Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Don’t Know Much About Art, But…

David Ng at the LA Times gave us a post-modern deconstructionist critique of the anonymously photo-shopped image of Obama the Joker-Socialist poster. His assessment: it could be anything. Or nothing at all. The guy must have gone to Berkeley.

Before reaching his non-conclusion we have to slog our way through this claptrap:

The New Yorker magazine's infamous cover illustration of Barack and Michelle Obama in radical drag, bumping fists in the Oval Office as an American flag burns in the fireplace, is understood to be a parody of conservative paranoia, not an attack on the first couple. But put that same image on the cover of the Weekly Standard and the illustration takes on a vastly different meaning.

In this respect, the image of President Obama in Heath Ledger Joker-face is especially disturbing because it is completely devoid of context -- literary, political or otherwise. The image seems to have emerged from nowhere and was created by no one. Deracinated from authorial intent, Obama-as-Joker becomes a free-floating cipher that can be appropriated and re-appropriated by everyone.


Methinks Mr. Ng has spent altogether too much time on an analyst’s couch. There’s  nothing deep, dark or mysterious about this poster. And it is fixed quite firmly in political context: Mr. Obama is a liar in socialist drag. The joke is on us. Come on, that’s funny.  Or it would’ve been had the artist been portraying George W. Bush, as Drew Friedman did last summer in Vanity Fair. (see image below)

And as for alluding to the possibility of the whiteface being racist; please. How can we ever take you people serious if you keep this up?

 obama-joker     bush-is-joker41

Anyway, there’s something to be said for turnabout being fair play. Vanity Fair’s readers seemed amused beyond containment at the art poster of GWB as Joker. So spare me your outrage over the joke-alist Obama. And  grow up.