POST: Bloggers Go Too Far in Joker “Race” Characterization

August 6, 2009
    Images of Obama invoking the Joker have begun to pop up around LA. Come on, haven't we seen this before...recently?

Images of Obama invoking the Joker have begun to pop up around LA. Come on, haven't we seen this before...recently?

In an unsurprising move by hardliners against President Obama’s health care plan, posters have begun popping up around Los Angeles, depicting a creepy image of the President invoking the Heath Ledger-esque Joker from the Dark Knight. As a unwavering supporter of the President’s health care plan, this new-ish development is not a shock to me – after the lengths we have seen people go to, busing themselves around to Town Hall meetings purely for the purpose of disrupting local debates, the time it would take someone to Photoshop some crude image over Obama’s face and paste it down by Venice would actually be a shorter means to their end.  And, come on, this is LA we’re talking about. Having been born and raised there, although there is a large contingency of liberals, conservatives come in all shapes and sizes too – even ones with negligible artistic abilities and a computer.

Much More Menacing

Much More Menacing

In fact, you could even say I am slightly relieved that the Obama image, see above, is less scary and remarkably less creepy as the Bush image sent into Vanity Fair in July of last year (see left).  The Bush image, by artist and author Drew Friedman, is far scarier, far more overt in terms of it psychotic characteristics (and in the view of the Pwn3r, far more accurate…).

But, what I have the most beef with is the way people blow these kinds of things out of proportion. Yes, it is another example of a highly misinformed person mis-characterizing and misunderstanding both the President and the health care plan being proposed, in general. But, come on, it is hardly as detrimental as the Town Hall disruptors and it is certainly not racist.

Washington Post Staff Writer Philip Kennicott’s Op-Ed today in Arts & Living takes it too far.  When one looks at the image of Obama, I think what would be called to mind would be Heath Ledgers amazing, but disturbing, portrayal of the Joker in the Dark Knight.  The word “socialism” placed below is an obvious caveat on the part of the “artist,” albiet misguided. But, take a hard look at it, and I think the average man on the street will not make the connection between this image and “the inner city, a source of political instability in the 1960s and ’70s, and a lingering bogeyman in political consciousness despite falling crime rates.”  Later in the article, he purports that “The charge of socialism is secondary to the basic message that Obama can’t be trusted, not because he is a politician, but because he’s black.” Come on. The last thing I think anyone would see in this image, is a race issue. Agree? Disagree? Please leave a comment.


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