Obama-Joker Poster goes Viral/Denounced as Racist

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Cowboy, Aug 10, 2009.

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  1. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    As I said, it's a mistake to think that everyone in America knows that The Joker is a Batman Villain, let alone that they know Heath Ledger's incarnation. There are plenty of people who do not follow comic books and do not go see comic book movies.

    Unless you have that context I would assume that a racoial angle would be the first think you think of. That said, even with that background if in the time it took to repaint his face the potential racial implication *never* occurred to him, then the artist is likely kinda slow, or suffering from Asperger's or some other condition that makes it hard for him to imagine the reactions of others.

    I recall the series of images comparing Bush to a chimp. I can imagine someone redoing that to criticize Obama. I cannot imagine that they would not think abouyt the potential racial implications at all during the process, even if the Bush images were their initial motivation., unless they were (in this hypothetical case) severely mentally impaired.

    Same thing with The Joker poster, though a more mild mental impairment would explain it for me.
     
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Context and definitions

    This is one of those occasions that I'll call out as simply as possible.

    Your misinterpretation of the statement is the dubious aspect. The phrase, "organized right-wing" is incomplete as you have read it. Normally, I would point to the hyphen, but that's no cue around here. However, the phrase correctly read is "organized right-wing attack".

    This phrase, in the immediate political discourse, is a reference to much noise and bluster put forward by a very small group of dissidents whose aim is not to add their voices to the discourse, but to disrupt it entirely with their shouting. Some conservatives hail this movement as being grass roots, but it is, in reality, exploitative and being organized by high-level Republican spinsters. That is, instead of an organic origin within the people, the movement is organized by right-wing politicians. Hence the idea of an organized right-wing attack.

    It's part of a strange phenomenon widespread in politics, but also concentrated more heavily in the right wing. I've already noted the appearance of conservative difficulty with simile, metaphor, and analogy. This occasion is a matter of definitions. ("Right-wing" is an adjective, not a noun, on this occasion.) Sometimes when trying to discuss issues with people, one must be very careful in their selection of words and construction of sentences because, while we might be supposed to give, say, George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt on any of his odd misstatements—e.g., "We know what you're trying to say, George," such as the bit about terrorists working hard to hurt Americans, "and so are we"—the conservative tends to seek out the most confrontational and controversial definitions of words possible, even if doing so renders the statement in question completely incomprehensible. Insofar as I can tell, the purpose isn't to make the other person look stupid, although more power to you if you can; rather, it's a way of looking for a fight.

    And perhaps it's not intentional. Maybe it's some inherent quirk of conservative psychology, but we should not be surprised if the behavior is more prevalent among conservative quarters. Indeed, I often think this is part of the reason why liberals just aren't good at sound-bite mudslinging; they're trying to play someone else's game according to rules they didn't make up.

    But it's also why people often pick on conservatives for poor reading comprehension and a lack of context or subtlety.

    For Quadraphonics, as near as I can tell, the point has to do with Countezero engaging a very common rhetorical device, which is presuming that an event occurs in a vacuum, in complete isolation. In such a context, it is clearly possible to create a poster like this without ever once thinking about racism, history, and smearing a black man's face with white makeup. Indeed, Quadraphonics was accurate when he suggested, "It has had exactly the intended effect on you: you're here publicly defending it, the people who made it, and the agenda it promotes."

    But what of the other elements? A plot to subvert responsible governance in the United States? Certainly, there is a question of responsible governance, although the hue and cry from the right wing does make it sound like, "No way but our way." Theoretically, even if there was responsible governance afoot, the right wing would oppose it for a matter of political labels.

    As to racism, though? At the heart of anti-Obama paranoia is a racist seed. Were the arguments of the general clamor against the president more sensible, relevant, or based in fact, those might become the focus for discussion. But it is still, as I suggested to S.A.M., about xenophobia. Ethnic heritage is one part of that xenophobia. Another is religion, and yet another is mere politics. And while political exaggeration is commonplace to the point of being expected (almost any Democrat will be attacked as a Socialist), religion and ethnicity are a different problem altogether. Kennedy was attacked as a Catholic, and among his opponents were those who would never be assuaged that he wasn't selling out the White House to the Vatican. Some of those still remain today, although they are largely insignificant to the historical discussion.

    It may well be that the lobbyists and PR firms behind the current conservative outcry don't have a specifically racist agenda. That is, they aren't opposing Obama simply because he's black or has a Muslim name. At such heights in political organization, one does not operate so nakedly. However, they are perfectly willing to exploit the racist seeds of Obamanoiac rhetoric in hopes of political capitalization. In this context, the attacks are still racist.

    Which leaves only the connection between the artist in question and the political fires his work is fueling. The artist need not be part of any racist plot per se. Rather, the artist chose to play to a certain market segment, and made a decision (e.g., whiteface) with clear political implications. The art in toto includes racial overtones, and it certainly has fed the Obamanoiac noise machine.

    In the end, the strongest defense for the art in this question is that it reflects the mood of a political subgroup. It is, as I have said before, quite the symbol of our times.

    • • •​

    In addition to the presumption critical to your conclusion, I would suggest you're also overlooking something basic about the political course this issue has followed.

    • The image emerged
    • The usual suspects made the predictable complaint
    • The issue carries on because someone decided to make a point about the predictable complaint​

    If we had left that at the second step, with the usual interest groups making the predictable complaint, this whole thing would be largely forgotten by now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
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  5. Tyler Registered Senior Member

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    I don't know. But I know a big chunk of the population isn't.
     
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  7. Jeff 152 Registered Senior Member

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    So are you saying that when we see what we believe to be false accusations of racism we should stand by and do nothing?

    I think we are still at the point in this country because race is such a sensitive issue that it really hampers free speech and honest discussion if people are constantly afraid of being accused of being racist. As you state, the usual suspects always bring race into the issue, so this makes any critical statement at risk for branding you as a racist if enough people catch onto the hype. This is the kind of stuff we need to stamp out. You can't be afraid to speak your mind because you are worried about offending the people who will invent ways to be offended.

    In fact, right now, I am surely being demonized by many as "defending the racist author" when all I am trying to do is merely state my opinion that I do not believe that this was intended to be a racist attack on Obama.

    And I don't suppose you have come up with a more fitting caricature of Obama that would deliver the same message with it being impossible to construe as a racist attack?
     
  8. TW Scott Minister of Technology Registered Senior Member

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    And Obama hasn't earned the same status? He demanded congress pass a bill. Not asked, not cajoled but flat out decreed they would pass it. He has flat out said that anyone who speaks out against his healthcare reform is against America. How has this asshat not earned being ridiculed?
     
  9. Ganymede Valued Senior Member

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    3,322
    That's because Obama is responding to the concerns of the American people. If you were to look at any of the pre-election polls in 07-08 you'll see that Health Care reform was near the top of the list. One the central issues Obama campaigned on was healthcare reform. He articulated concisely what his plan would entail, as did John McCain. When the American people were given the chance to vote on the candidate with the best ideas, Obama won in a landslide. Democracy sucks when you're in the minority doesn't it?

    That's completely false. Obama never said that anyone who speaks out against Healthcare reform is against America. I implore you to provide the source of information that led you to this conclusion. Surely it wasn't any verifiable facts. However, I'm open to be proven wrong.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    (Insert Title Here)

    Hardly. But you should probably come up with something other than predictable fallacies.

    One of the signs of genuine racism—or else genuine stupidity—is that when the usual suspects raise the predictable issue, the response is so feeble.

    See, it's hard for me to believe these usual suspects are always going off half-cocked, because I can use the word "nigger" in a room full of black people and not get eaten alive. I'm well aware that it is not, with those usual suspects, just a simple fallback to racism. Part of the problem is that there is, in fact, that much racism left in our society. I'm not sure what it will take for those organizations to fade away, but at present they have much cause for vigilance.

    It's not the defense of the artist or the art that is to your discredit. Rather, it is the reliance on fallacy. Such as the above. Or,

    Criticizing Obama by making him look like a white villain is racist
    Criticizing Obama by making him look like a black villain is racist
    hmmm, I think I see where this is going.....any critic of Obama will inevitably be charged as a racist

    This is exactly the sort of feeble response one expects when the issue is raised.

    Well, The Riddler comes to mind, but it's been years since Jim Carrey's anemic performance, so we don't have the added Heath value. But the Joker image could have been done without the whiteface and still been instantly recognizable.

    The thing about the whiteface is that it's sort of paradoxical. There is, somewhere in the annals of American cinema, this hilarious scene where a black butler is frightened by a ghost. They essentially did a stop-motion animation in which pieces of clay or putty were applied to the actor's face; you could see each new piece in the frames—he was scared white by a ghost.

    And while those roles are oft derided in the modern day for their appeals to stereotype, I do find interesting the idea that a black man becomes white when he's scared senseless.

    Likewise, the Obama whiteface. If we must drag race into this, we should also consider the value of making Obama white in order to depict him as a sociopath.

    Further complicating the artistic outlook is the comparison between the Joker and Socialism. Ledger's Joker played "Lifeboat", which is the antithesis of Socialism. Who do you throw overboard? That's not exactly Socialist.

    (There is, incidentally, a bootleg vinyl pressing of the Beach Boys' unreleased Smile album; it comes on multiple platters, including the approximate album as planned and studio outtakes. One of the outtakes is of the guys, on acid, playing Lifeboat in the studio, and it is really hard for them to wrap their heads around the idea that somebody must be thrown overboard. Not that I recommend searching high and low for this thing; it's expensive, to boot. But, if you ever come across it, it's a very striking recording.)

    But the artistic problems won't prevent this one from becoming a cultural icon. Hell, in American history, most iconic art is dysfunctional. The Warhols and Pollocks of our history are deviations. Even our best political cartoonists regularly skimp a punch line. Sitcoms, the Billboard Top 40, the G.I. Joe and Transformer movies .... Michael Jackson, for heaven's sake.

    In the long run, the Joker poster won't be remembered specifically for its indictment of Obama, but rather for having captured so succinctly the spectre of fear haunting so many ignorant American minds.
     
  11. TW Scott Minister of Technology Registered Senior Member

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  12. Ganymede Valued Senior Member

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    It's gonna come out of who's taxes? The top 1%? Fuck them, most of them are white collar criminals anyway.


    Do you have any quotes, links or video? Because you're telling a bald face lie right now. It makes you look incredibly uninformed when you come here and parrot fallacious right wing talking points. And President Obama never called any healthcare critic a terrorist. You're a compendium of misinformation.
     
  13. Cowboy My Aim Is True Valued Senior Member

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    There was whiteface, but it was just smeared on rather than applied carefully. Same goes with the red lip coloring, which looks like something Anna Nicole Smith would do. The character of the Joker is a lunatic (which was emphasized more with physical appearance in The Dark Knight than in Tim Burton's Batman movie, where the Joker was well-dressed and charming at times), so it's not surprising that he isn't particularly thorough when applying his clown makeup.

    Nope. You could read this thread, for example, and see common sense vs. race-baiting.
     
  14. Cowboy My Aim Is True Valued Senior Member

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    Not shocking. Every cultural reference is going to not make sense to a certain amount of people. But it's not unreasonable to expect many people to recognize a satire based on a character from one of the most popular movies EVER who was played by a fairly popular actor who died not so long ago.

    I've never seen Titanic, but I still get the "I'm king of the world!" reference from the movie because I've seen that clip on many occasions.

    Putting makeup on a picture of Obama to make him look like the Joker doesn't have any racial connotations to me. If they made a picture of him in a loincloth, holding a spear and a watermelon, THAT would be racist. The complaints about the Joker picture are from people who either are race-obsessed or Obama worshippers (and there is probably a lot of overlap between these two groups).

    If you're putting on whiteface to mock someone, the target would be white people. So, realistically, there is no reason for anyone other than white people to have ever been offended by a character in whiteface.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  15. Cowboy My Aim Is True Valued Senior Member

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    Like I said in a prior post:

    I think the real issue here is that Obama fans know that "How dare your mock Dear Leader!" won't go over with the public as well as "That's racist!!!!!!!!!" will, so they're going with the latter.

    That is the most rational explanation for the liberal outrage over a picture that is far less offensive than a lot of satires of George W. Bush.
     
  16. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    It's not like claiming unappreciated executive power (signing statments), torturing prisoners, eliminating the principle of Habeas corpus, lying to congress about WMD's, implementing the most fascist regime in American history...

    all Obama wants is health care reform.
     
  17. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    I don't really give a shit. This image will pass and won't have any real effect besides enshrining the popularity of Obama.
     
  18. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I think any representative of the people is open to being mocked by the same people. We call them thieves and idiots, morons, traitors, inept criminal and what not.

    A painted face is really very very low on the list of possible expletives. Like the Turkish newscaster wearing blackface, its about attracting attention rather than educating anyone or changing anything
     
  19. WillNever Valued Senior Member

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    That's really their problem, not the creator of the posters. People have a right to freely speak their minds, and the rantings of irate, politically correct soothsayers won't do anything to change that. It's time people started acting like adults.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  20. TW Scott Minister of Technology Registered Senior Member

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    The top 1% never pay taxes, they have too many loopholes to exploit, no the taxes will be levied on the middle class and poor becuase they can;t afford the tax consultants to get them their fair break.

    He never directly said it, but he did compare them loosely. His message was well crafted. "Dissent is not allowed. Argument is not american. You will accept my plan. I have spoken." He just made it sound much, much better. Just like you are now by using the largest words you can instead of plain unfettered English.

    I would like to say, again I am not against Health Care reform, I just do not want the government making a whole bureacracy of it. Every Bureacracy we have formed has done nothing but cost us more money than if we had just left it alone.


    I have a simple plan.

    Congress enacts a law that Insurance companies must provide a set amount of coverage at a set amount of dollars. This rate will not rise faster than inflation. The great part of this is everybody can then afford good insurance and becuase more people will be insured then medical costs will go down as now everyone is paying. It also allows people to purchase more coverage depending on their wealth and needs.

    Veteran Hospitals should be merged with normal hospitals providing same healthcare across this country. This will allow hospitals to ease some of the financial burden of equipment as the Military could be picking up upto half the cost. It also lessens the strain on the VA quite a bit, they basically become mostly an insurance provider of sorts.

    We increase scholarship money available to medical schools and nursing school. The trade of is that graduates who accept this financial aid, would work for set salary for the VA for a number of years determined by how much money the government gave them. This does allow some people to pay their own way and thus remain free agents.

    Finally, all drug research should be strictly government controlled and done by the congolmeration of drug companies. Utilizing shared facilities the drug companies could save billions in equipment costs. It also would allow cross company teamwork and breakthroughs. Drug prices would plummet to more acceptable levels. Not only that but the FDA would have access to the drug from day one for testing and this would save time in the final release of the drugs.

    In all of this we would not create any more bureacracies and put the one we do have to better use.
     
  21. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Please, let's not indulge the bigot fantasy that one must be motivated "simply" by race to have a "specifically racist agenda." You could make the same point about the Slave Power, and all it would get you is the evisceration of the term "specifically racist agenda."
     
  22. John T. Galt marxism is legalized hatred!! Registered Senior Member

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    And there is not one shred of racism in that statement, not one.
     
  23. countezero Registered Senior Member

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    No, I am looking for several other words to describe you right now, but I will refrain from doing so. So you think I am a racist because I don't care about something that you do? How, pray tell, does that work?

    Oh, what an intellectucal statement. Let me write that down and put it in my pocket.

    First of all, I am curious how you know how something affected me.

    Secondly, I think you need to learn how to read.

    I never defended the poster or the people who made it or the agenda it promotes (which I am unaware of), so I am "complicit" with nothing, and you need to step down from whatever fictitious high horse you are parading around on and surrender yourself to the cold, hard ground of reality.

    I wrote: "I don't care about the poster. It doesn't affect me." None of my other offerings qualify as defense, either. Get it right.


    Poor choice.[/QUOTE]
     
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