If Obama is the Joker...who gets to be Batman?


Over the past couple weeks, a lot of controversy has been documented in regards to a banner of President Obama as the Joker from the film, Dark Knight. I thought this would be a good time to talk about semiotics.

If you have already seen the image you know that the it normally
has 4 elements.

1.) The President of the United States.
2.) The Time Magazine Red Border.
3.) The word "socialism."
4.) The digitally painted make-up of the Joker.

The Joker and the word socialism - which really should have been typeset "socialist" - have no direct relationship or add to a thoughtful attack on President Barack H. Obama. No doubt, the person utilizing the image, probably thought it was a good way to present the President as an evil trickster. However, the Joker is not a socialist. The Joker's character was thoughtfully developed as a nihilist whom comments on the "arbitrary nature of morality in contemporary society." Not only is this a bad metaphor, but it is also an inaccurate label for the President's economic policies.

Implying that the President is a socialist, is an insult to socialists everywhere. However, I would rather avoid this discussion and stick to the semiotics of posters - which brings me to discuss Shepard Fairey's addition to Obama's election campaign.

Shepard Fairey is known for creating communist propaganda derived imagery. Therefore, if the Obama's Presidential Campaign wanted to avoid accusations that he was a socialist; perhaps they shouldn't have publicly thanked Shepard Fairey for his contribution. I am making this comment, even though I am aware that communist propaganda visuals have been utilized for many unrelated things. However, it is still probably a bad idea for a designer to utilize communist derived imagery for a politician in the United States - even though the process resulted in a very attractive poster.

Note: Communism has a socialist transition period as part of it's realization.

Furthermore, the Obama as Joker image was never intended to be utilized in this manor. It was actually produced by a history student, Firas Alkhateeb, attending the University of Illinois, whom was following a tutorial on how to "Jokerize" any photo. Alkhateeb's image was then taken from his flickr account and turned into a political statement by adding the word "socialism" on the bottom. More info on the student and his thoughts about responses to the image can be found here.

On a less serious note...if President Obama is the Joker, than who get's to be Batman? the past republican candidates whom ran against him? or one of the current targets of US aggression? I mad this quick (Very quick. Please do not judge.) visual response.

Note: I do not support President Barack Hussein Obama or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Maya said...

Well then who do you support? I think that it is important to not be around the bush on your personal blog. If you feel a certain way you should actually talk about it. And why would calling Obama a scocialist be an insult. What has he done to insult anyone? Just wondering.

bizhan said...

Let me clarify.

I said that it would be insulting to socialists; not insulting to be a socialist.

Why is there a need to support a political leader? or for me to elaborate on whom I support on my design blog?

I am not "beating around the bush." I just didn't want the social commentary to be misconstrued as support for a political leader.