Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Obama 'Joker': Art or "Dangerous"??

A poster posted around Los Angeles challenges acceptance of our freedoms as citizens of the United States while the artist remains a mystery. I came across the article in the Chicago Tribune this morning. In doing a search on the topic it appears that The Drudge Report was the lead viral catalyst to the story. The poster is of President Obama in the likeness of Health Ledger’s role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” (see below for poster).

Earl Hutchinson, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President, stated the “Depicting the president as demonic and a socialist goes beyond political spoofery. It is mean-spirited and dangerous.” Not sure how it is dangerous. The response by Mr. Hutchinson does reflect an undercurrent of a thin skinned American society. To add to the poster the word “Socialism” is listed below the picture.

As Noel Sheppard points out in his article, (Obama Joker Poster Stirs Outrage, Bush Joker Poster Not So Much)”Yet, when Vanity Fairs Politics & Power blog published a somewhat similar visual representation of George W. Bush last July, nobody seemed to complain.” Is political satire a one-way street? A big reason why people flock to the United States is because of freedom of speech.

Saul Relative comments (Obama Joke Poster: A Contradiction) that the artist attempt to paint President Obama as an “evil trickster, a jesting madman, a person in disguise” missed the mark and “...the image falls apart in its effectiveness. Because anyone who knows anything about the Joker, it is that there is nothing about him that is concerned about the common good. In other words, there isn’t a socialistic bone in his body. The joker steals for the power of it, the fun of it, and the disruptive force of it.” All elements that appear to contradict the Joker Obama and the assertion of “Socialism”, perhaps the artist was bringing satire to the famous Hope poster that followed Sen. Obama during the presidential campaign.

While the artist’s intention of the poster may be in line with Thomas Lifson interpretation (President Obama ‘Joker’ poster asks ‘why so socialist?’) of “Open mockery of Barack Obama, as disillusionment sets in with the man, his policies, and the phony image of a race-healing, brilliant, scholarly, middle-of-the-roader”, the real question is if the depiction steps too far over that satirical line or is it free speech?