Obama Joker artist revealed

Discussion in 'Politics' started by countezero, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Briefly: there was no such day - unless you are talking about the days before Obama was known to be in line for power.
    Not just us, but the spreaders of that poster. So what was the attraction, the viral push, of an image that doesn't fit on its admitted grounds? Not just a little bit no fit, but a dramatic and obvious mismatch?

    There are a very large number of mismatches and nonsense comparisons available - a telling caricature is a difficult creation, because it was produced from such a large number of possibilities. Hence the revealing nature of correlated falsehoods and errors - the statistical power of the correlation is very high. The number of wrong-headed caricatures available for selection is huge. It's as if the punchline of a joke didn't have to be either funny or relevant to the rest of it - suddenly a very large selection of phrases will work for you.

    And of those thousands, the chosen one is racially loaded.
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  3. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Give it a rest. Many of us see Obama as a joker. The joker wears face paint. Nothing racial about it. By the way, did you know that Obama stold his entire campaign from Eddie Murphy?
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Ad hoc stupidity

    Ah, yes. The predictable. The inevitable.

    So someone makes some noise. And then the usual suspects make the usual noise about that noise. But some noisy other suspects make a whole lotta noise about the usual suspects making noise about the noise. And, of course, someone else feels the need to correct the noisy others about the noise they're making about the usual suspects making noise about what was, really, a minor noise.

    And on and on and on it goes. Around and around.

    And then one of the noisy others makes the point, "Give it a rest."

    Tell you what: Stop making so much noise about the usual suspects making noise about a noise.

    So spare us, sir. Really. You ought to be embarrassed for yourself. I couldn't have written a more retarded, predictable script if I tried. But why bother? We've got you to act it out for us, ostensibly ad hoc.
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  7. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    And yet you, of course, are above it all. You are not making noise about my making noise about the usual suspects making noise about a noise. No. You are here to enlighten us with your erudite wit.
  8. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Well, I mean "back in the day" a bit humourously, naturally. Back in the day of a few months back, when criticism from other than the usual quarters (Beck, Limbaugh) still seemed to catch that edge of surprise and shock.

    Like I said: I don't expect everyone in the populist right to be about subtlety and nuance. Why viral? Well, because the Joker is mean and shocking and psychotic and evil - "and so is Obama", which seemed to be the point. I mean, there's not much grey area on the Joker. He's kind of a shit all around; pathological and duplicitous, which seems to be shared by a lot of the hard right towards Obama these days. So the criticism of Obama in that way, with no opt-out to soften it, does seem to be a kind of exciting viral meme. "Obama sucks! No, no nuance. He just sucks! Absolutely! He's terrible! I think he's like the Joker! So fuck you!" etc, etc.

    True - but again, since when has the left argued that the hard right is tuned-in to nuance? Or that they're subtle? Who defines conservatives these days in terms of their progressive comprehension of imagery? (As a note to conservatives who might be offended: any of the above may well be true. I'm merely speaking of perception by the left here. Don't worry, I love everybody.)

    Well, here we must disagree. This is a conclusion, but I don't think that it follows from the evidence.

    (Progress note: Thanks for a genuinely enjoyable debate. Muchly appreciated.)
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    I'm sure you have something to play in your hand ... right?

    Of course I'm not making noise about the usual suspects making noise about a noise. I'm accustomed to it.

    If you recall the history of this subject at Sciforums, it was brought to us by someone who specifically wanted to doubt the usual suspects and the noise they were making about the noise; or, more directly, the original discussion of this issue at Sciforums was put up by one doubting the racism claim.

    Or have I got that wrong? Is there a prior thread somewhere I've overlooked?

    Indeed, as long as I am the issue here, let's review. When I entered the discussion, Spidergoat and Acid Cowboy were discussing the notion of whiteface. I commented on that:

    I don't think the racism is the big problem with that flyer. Rather, the problem is its inherent stupidity. Original offered a blog post that pretty much demonstrates the issue. Conservative mudslingers seem to see things according to words used, but overlook the details of actions.

    As agit-prop goes, that one's pretty good. The whiteface is obvious enough that the artist could not have overlooked it and made certain decisions.

    I rather like it because everything, from the socialist to psychopath to whiteface shows the grotesque fear a black president causes so many people. It's quite the symbol of our times.​

    You will note that consideration didn't draw a whole lot of attention. That's fine with me; it wasn't a damning enough indictment to draw conservative criticism. They just wanted to focus on why the usual suspects were wrong to make noise about a noise and extrapolate that image to represent an entire political philosophy. In other words, they wanted to keep the racism banner alive so they could throw stones at it. Rational discussion was set aside for another time.

    I next commented on the issue in response to S.A.M.'s inquiry about racist satires. And I wrote then:

    Yes, there are more important issues facing the country. Indeed, there are more important issues about this poster. But look at the context of the discussion. Acid Cowboy wanted to discuss the racial issue. Plenty of people seem to want to focus on it. As I said before, I think the real problem is the poster's inherent stupidity. It's rather hard to attack Obama as a socialist; the talking points are few and superficial. The whole point of this line of attack is to distract people from real, substantial issues in the American political discourse. And it's working. Some people and interests find the whiteface obvious, even primary. Others think it's symptomatic. And then there are folks like our thread starter who seem to need a remedial course in the history of American racism.​

    And I suggested that such issues are much more complex than the argument at hand:

    Generally speaking, people tend to regard mass-market comedy (e.g. Dave Chapelle) as different from political satire as different from avant-garde insurgent political commentary. As such, different rules apply to the different roles. Mass-market comedy is only bounded by what an artist thinks the public will buy. Chapelle might push certain buttons and boundaries, but only so much. Cartoonist Steve Benson was run out of Tacoma after he published a Veterans' Day frame depicting "George & Dan's Body Bag Sale" about the Gulf War. The man knew how to pull strings; his farewell cartoons to Ryan White and Jim Henson are legendary tear-jerkers. I have his Dr. Seuss memorial cartoon framed and stowed away somewhere. But this jab was a bridge too far; it was too controversial and allegedly "insensitive" to the outlook of a military town (Army and Air Force). Eventually, he packed up and went back to Arizona. Our loss; their gain. It isn't just racial issues for these artists, but sensitivity. I forget which British cartoonist published the frame of Obama as a nigger Superman cleaning up a bunch of elephant shit, but nobody gave him any significant flak for its deliberate commentary on racial overtones in American politics. The context of that one is important. From an artistic standpoint, the indictment of American culture was reasonably accurate; many people joked that we had hired a black man to clean up after a bunch of white people. With the Joker poster, the question is really how important the detail of whiteface is. It is an interesting commentary as even some of Obama's supporters feel he's pulling an Uncle Tom. However, only the most idiotic artist on the planet could look past the whiteface without recognizing the potential. And the rules applying to insurgent political commentary make that a very dangerous point. Insurgent commentary is expected to be polite enough to be considered respectable before it is given any real consideration ....

    .... Those who would point out that calling Democrats Nazis is fair because there was a lot of Nazi talk about the Bush administration are overlooking one of the basic aspects of simile, metaphor, and analogy: relevance. As facts emerged, more and more of the Bush administration's actions seemed taken from historical playbooks. Which is, in itself, fine. History is an excellent teacher. But the war cry matched an observation made by Hermann Göering; and, indeed, shades of what Göering said can be found in the governmental philosophy of Leo Strauss, a University of Chicago professor whose work is fundamental to the contemporary neoconservative. Legal black holes for detainees, rendition, and torture all contributed to the image. Carefully-selected audiences to depict broad support for a beloved national leader certainly didn't help.

    For the conservatives, it seems that a Democratic president who doesn't want to do everything they want him to do is fair game. Obama's a Nazi vampire, didn't you hear? And the difference is which facts support the analogy, metaphor, or simile. I might compare you to a cow, but why? What about the comparison makes it work? Sure, you have breasts, but am I after an udder theme? Do you graze lazily through rhetorical pastures and regurgitate the meal, only to chomp it back down for yourself? Do you shit excessively? There must, if I am to call you a cow, be some bovine aspect that translates in the image. And you'll notice I haven't even begun to account for the fact that you are from India.

    But these aspects don't seem to matter to conservatives. Perhaps you called some politician a fascist. And the fact of his words or actions matter none to the conservative. What they seem to see is a term they find insulting, and thus, if you can be insulting, they can call you a cow.​

    And that analysis, as pretentious as it was, drew something of a yawn. Again, that's fine. Not everything has to be the center of attention. But I hope a theme is emerging here about how I've been looking at this issue.

    My third post on the subject took two parts. In the first, I addressed Superstring01 about a dispute he was having with Quadraphonics. There is a relevant point there:

    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.​

    And the second section, considering Jeff 152's point, pretty much brings us back to noise about noise about noise:

    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.​

    It's almost, but not quite, as if we're pretending it's somehow newsworthy that it rained in Seattle this week.

    And responding to Jeff 152's take on that post came next. I don't really think there's much doubt where I stood in relation to questions of politics and art when I wrote:

    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.​

    And, I even provided some thoughts on a possible alternative:

    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 ....​

    Quadraphonics responded to one of my comments to String; I stated I did not disagree, and shortly thereafter the thread closed.

    Reviewing the current thread, my entry came about thirty hours after the new thread posted; perhaps four days had gone by since my last post on the issue.

    In that post, I reviewed my take on whiteface and racism in response to Iceaura, and addressed S.A.M.'s question about mixed blood in society. Two and a half days later, I noted a local news story about violence and the Socialism-Joker poster. Hype offered his thoughts on the issue, and Countezero stopped by to write a one-line complaint. I responded to that briefly, which left him so dissatisfied that he claimed dozens of incidents of violence "wouldn't be indicative of much of anything".

    I next undertook your brief post about authoritarianism, presenting Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme and considering the failures of the Communist revolution. You attempted a minor dodge: "I fail to see how a dictatorship, of the proletariat or otherwise, can be anything but markedly authoritarian." (That may be true, but it still doesn't equal authoritarian left = communism.) Thus, as I noted, your response was beside the point.

    GeoffP checked in regarding the inherent dangers of revolution. My response was to consider Norman O. Brown's Life and Death, rehash a story about my father and the conservative philosophies I learned in youth, and describe a problem I see with capitalism—which is a trigger leading toward more communal thinking—and closing by suggesting that the conservative critique of liberalism is incorrect.

    We continued that discussion, including a post where I reiterated that the proper communist revolution will come about naturally, as people respond to the increasing demands of capitalism. And then I gave my thoughts regarding Geoff's reply; I quoted Mark Steel, Karl Marx, and Aleister Crowley, alluded to one of Steel's jokes about Beethoven and the Eleventh Feuerbach Thesis of Marx, and considered the prospect of benevolent dictatorship.

    And then the thread went into lockdown during the overhaul, and revived twenty or so days later. I haven't had anything else to say, but your appeal that people should "give it a rest" struck me as rather quite discordant to reality.

    So tell us, sir, since your haughty presumption is so assured, where do I stand? You want to make this about me? Go ahead. I mean, you obviously know so well, don't you? And with that stellar track record for accuracy and acuity, we all just know you're going to embarrass the hell out of me. Right?

    Where do I stand, sir?
  10. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    Not alone.
  11. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Of course not.....
    I really think the whole racism angle is BS. You want to see a politician who dealt with racism? Consider Harold Washington, first black mayor of Chicago. I lived in the Chicago area at the time and remember what happened. He faced damned near univeral opposition even from his own party because he was black. That's racism. Obama, if anything, has probably benefited more than been hurt as a result of his race. Opposition to him is due to his policies, not his ancestry. Who gives a rat's ass about his ancestry? I'll take a 100% black government of conservatives who agree with me on the issues over a 100% white government made up of leftists any day. Race is irrelevent to me. It's policies and ideas that matter.
    Now that's an intriguing point.
    My point was that I couldn't believe this thread was still alive after this much time and the issue of the Obama/Joker poster being racist still being debated.
    Well, on the Left. The far left, from my perspective. And, as Hype pointed out, you're not alone there.
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Whoever wrote "socialist" across the front of the whiteface poster was obviously not too concerned about his policies - hadn't even bothered to find out what they were.

    Meanwhile, concern about his ancestry - racial, ethnic, national, identity of father, etc etc etc - is and has been kind of a big deal. Almost every night for months, something on the news about it. Many threads on this forum.
  13. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    None by accident.
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    "None by accident"?
  15. pastakia Registered Senior Member

    The fact he was used to represent The Joker is clearly wrong, it's saying he is false in the promises he makes and that could be quite a problem if he or any represntative could come across this site... in that case i would just take the time to say "i have nothing to do with this what-so-ever, i'm just informing people"
  16. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    None By Accident :bugeye:
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

  18. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    Meaning threads don't just drop like "anonymous" waste as we pass here. TFR* is in effect at Sciforums. I also have some time on my hands today, thanks to BHO.

    *Total FecalReakalRecall

    Anyway, I like the Obama Joker Artist (Firas al-Khatib).
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  19. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    The artist or the work? And on what basis?
  20. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    I like both. On the basis that I can like what I like.
  21. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Well, okey-dokey then.
  22. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    :thumbsup: ...
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Hop on the bandwagon ... but you're not with them

    Now that is an impressive response. Put a lot of thought into that one.

    Two things here. First, many conservatives seem to think that if the KKK isn't out in hoods with some beefy-t redneck sheriff hosing down the blacks for them, there isn't any racism to be found.

    Don't get me wrong; I understand it's convenient efficient to regard issues so simply. But I also think it's a paltry excuse put forth by people who are tired of defending a racist standard they refuse to give up.

    Secondly, certainly it's policies and ideas. That's why they're never mixed with race. Take two examples from a liberal perspective. First is Chris Britt's cartoon for the September 19, 2009 State Journal-Register:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    (via Cagle Post)

    Now, what the hell could Britt be referring to? Especially since it's about ideas and policies, which are, of course, never mixed with race issues. Right?

    So consider, then, some folks poking fun at these protesters:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    (via BuzzFeed)

    It's part of a joke currently going by the moniker, "What Teabagger Signs Say vs. What They Mean". And perhaps you think the translation is a bit unfair. To the other, one should not imagine that denouncing the Obama administration for "White Slavery"—apparently because it wants people to have health care—in any way mixes race issues with ideas and policies, right?

    Look, at the core of the Obamanoia is a bunch of people who just can't deal with the fact that a black man is president. And that's their business. But then a bunch of partisans hop on that bandwagon, and those folks are just horrified to be accused of racism. I mean, sure they're willing to hop on a racist bandwagon, promote an essentially racist message, and distort common standards of both our society in general and our already twisted political history in order to carry out these obsessive attacks echoing the racists, but there's no way they could be racist, or that this could possibly be about race. After all, it just isn't fair to accuse someone who is speaking racism of being racist.


    As far as I'm concerned, it lost its charm somewhere in all the repetition. To the other, glad you finally noticed.

    I'm sorry but I just don't believe that. In the first place, why was the thread ever re-opened in the first place, then?

    To the other, if your point was that the thread was still alive, why didn't you just say that instead of, "Give it a rest. Many of us see Obama as a joker. The joker wears face paint. Nothing racial about it." It's hard to claim your, "Give it a rest," was about the fact that the issue was still being debated when you were, in fact, still arguing the issue.

    Really. Seriously. Your explanations often sound perfectly reasonable until compared against the history they deliberately misrepresent. After a while, all those falsehoods start carrying some weight.

    And, to yet another, from the outset there have been useful issues to consider in the debate over this poster. However, one of the problems is that its advocates are merely repeating their argument over and over and over again. They're not defending it. They're not explaining it. They are simply insisting on their point as if it was indisputable truth. The whole point of this discussion, as I noted before, was to focus on why the usual suspects were wrong to make noise about a noise and extrapolate that image to represent an entire political philosophy. The whole thing is bogus. It's part of the larger racist tantrum against Obama. And you're happily going along with it.

    It's an interesting answer, but totally ignores your own premise. I do sometimes wonder about that, but I'm already aware it's hopeless to expect a useful answer. I would actually be pleased to be wrong about that.

    So think of it this way:

    Madanthonywayne: And yet you, of course, are above it all. You are not making noise about my making noise about the usual suspects making noise about a noise. No. You are here to enlighten us with your erudite wit.

    Tiassa: Indeed, as long as I am the issue here, let's review .... Where do I stand, sir?

    Madanthonywayne: Well, on the Left. The far left, from my perspective.​

    Would you like to try it again, and this time make the answer relevant to the underlying point? Or would that just be a futile effort?


    Britt, Chris. "Untitled". State Journal-Register. September 19, 2009. CaglePost.com. September 22, 2009. http://www.cagle.com/working/090919/britt.gif

    Stroker Ace. "What Teabagger Signs Say vs. What They Mean". BuzzFeed. September, 2009. BuzzFeed.com. http://www.buzzfeed.com/5trokerac3/what-teabagger-signs-say-vs-what-they-mean-o6r
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009

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