NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at Please update your bookmarks.

You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds...

« Naked Power | Main | Black Arts »

Apr 12, 2008

Bitter Has Its Own Poster




#1:  Shepard Fairey's original Obama poster.
#2: The reformulated version on wingnut Michelle Malkin's blog, riffing on the Clinton attack.

Writes Al Shaw, with a take on the graphic design:

Its meticulously-spaced three lines of copy are a direct hit at Obama's signature both in terms of copywriting style ("CHANGE / We can believe in") and his extensive use of the Gotham typeface. On the surface, the parody works—Obama looks arrogant with an upturned chin, and the O in "SNOB" mimics his recurring logo, reiterated over and over with his message of HOPE.

On a deeper level, however, this spoof falls apart because everything it references contradicts what it tries to convey. Shepard Fairey's art is as anti-elitist as it gets. Check out some of the sightings of the poster for an example of what I'm talking about. The typography also reiterates populism. As H&FJ (the creators of Gotham) recount, the font actually originated out of New York's "vernacular lettering" and signage-- liquor store neon signs, hand painted truck lettering, the sign at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, etc. (not exactly bastions of elitism). It was designed to be quintessentially American--lettering from before the era of "graphic design."  Considering the Malkin spoof, the letterforms contradict what the words have to say.

Writes The BAG, with a take on the political design:

1. With a preacher-like feel, I'm wondering if there isn't a racial element here, too.  Echoes of Reverend Wright?

2. Sorry, but with the hair missing, and the loss of the red to frame the blue facial shading, I get a little skittish seeing Obama's head cocked back and his eyes closed, that dark blue simultaneously winding around his neck and forming a great gaping gap.  And what about that red now?

Photoshop of the week: Typical liberal snob (Michelle Malkin)
HRC Continues Attacks On Obama's Remarks (MSNBC)
'Bitter' Is a Hard Pill For Obama to Swallow (WAPO)

(illustration 1: Shepard Fairey via  illustration 2: Tennyson via


#2 also seems to show Obama with his eyes closed. It looks like he is soaking up some sunshine if you resist the snob label a little. "Looking down your nose," the expression the parody seems to visualize, requires eyes to be looking.

#2 Decapitation threat.

The first poster is interesting: the reds and blues are well balanced and the palette is complex. My monitor displays three shades of blue/blue-gray, the red is a nice clear red-red-orange. I'm struck by the highlighting in white on the right side of his face, right where humans look to read emotion. Overall I see balance, complexity, layers, thoughtfulness. It's an iconic image of Obama.

The second poster is confused, threatening, claustrophobic. There is a disconnect between the word, SNOB, and the image. The effect is violent. The face could be sleeping or in prayer, but it could also be a death mask. The red makes Obama look battered, his lip is bloodied.

Fascinating Stuff the world creates.

I look at the color of the letters as if it is their voicing.

I see the white letters SN B and think of you think some white people might think that.

I read the red letters as the republican leadership saying, it's an elitist thing, as in power, to the masses of blue, who wouldn't or shouldn't understand...and many probably won;t see the complexities of this attack.

So obama is a sonafabitch to them (the republican leadership) because he wants their economic elitism to stop, and the masses are flat out being told they won't understand.Simultaneous he is also a sonafabitch to the blue masses because he is elitist and doesn;t want them to understand.

Being from SW Pa I feel fairly certain that SW Pa will resent being seen as ignorant and will rally against the elitists. The question is which one.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think this issue will land with the ignorant lower class unconsious racist voter; along the lines of he insulted me.

It is a very good divide and conquer strategy from the right wing at painting obama as a wolf, albeit a latte drinking one.

If he beats this back, he will be President.

If he doesn;t McCain will crush Hillary, as it will be hard to do more than vote for her.

I think posters and ads like this are primarily intended to sow doubt. The Malkins, Coulters Limbaughs and other closet authoritarians are desparately afraid that the masses are starting to identify with BHO.

I'd like to see a set of posters showing McCain, with the text below the image:

Same Bad Judgement
Same Old Ideas
Same Wrong Direction

The Hope poster is brilliantly effective as it effortlessly delivers a complex message. This work far exceeds the "thousand words" standard for pictures. Its message is clear and unambiguous, but not blunt. It succeeds at projecting warmth from the conventionally divided and contentious Reds and Blues. There is even a dash of humor, the ironic and chiding lapel pin. A candidacy with less grace would bluntly state "I'm a uniter not a divider" and leave it at that.

In parody the Malkin effort recalls the wit and infectious (as in Ebola) humor of the short-lived ½ Wit News Hour. The visual pun is, as noted in comments above, that in portraying the candidate as effete (has there been a Democratic candidate since the dawn of the Southern Strategy that hasn't been labeled "effete"?), the image really shows BHO beaten to death. Since lynching is so 1930s, we see decapitation instead.

In keeping with the sui-parody tradition blazed by the ½ Wit News Hour, the Malkin piece screams condescension. Apparently the word "Snob" by itself to answer "Hope" by itself runs the risk of their intended audience not "getting" the "point". Such is the opinion of this work's creator and publisher that their readers need a little more help, some coaxing and prodding, frankly some direction. They need to be told that Senator Obama is "elitist". They need to be slapped upside the head: "You Wouldn't Understand".

I'm sure Ms Malkin knows her demographic. If she thinks her audience is too stupid to get the comparison, it's her show, explain away. She is demonstrably a snob.

Great minds, OhKay. Just yesterday I emailed a friend with some poster ideas. This image should be on every utility pole in the nation. More slogans:

  • Vote for John, Vote for George
  • Stay the Course — Indefinitely
  • 2nd Best in 2000, 2nd Best Today
  • It Ain't Torture If It Wins Votes
  • etc

SNOB spelled backwards is BONS.

Well, that is just about as relevant as Malkin's posturing of Obama. It is an oft-used and thus weak charge leveled by all republicans for the past 30 years against all democrats. I guess when it comes to original thinking, Malkin isn't a contender.

As for the graphics, Malkin's version has curiously removed almost all the blue from the poster. (My monitor shows the BG as black in Malkin's) The original interestingly, has the background divided by blue and homage to Obama's bringing in republicans and independents, welcoming them into the blue nation? Is that what so rankles Malkin? Or is she even aware she did that?

In Fairey's original, the red and blue look to be the result of lighting and shadow. It looks like an idealized, solarization of the original photo. It also recalls (in the minds of viewers old enough) much of the artwork of the 60s and 70s. In Malkin's version, the red 'bleeds' all over the face and becomes more menacing, dripping out of his thinned lips. His already prominent ears are exaggerated and highlighted. It's not balanced, but then, neither is Malkin.

As to the racism, I have often observed racist resentment of blacks among certain recent arrivals to this country. At least, certain recent arrivals from a specific Pacific Island group. It does appear that his head is in the position of a body hanging from a tree. Of course, you don't suppose she meant any such thing, do you?

As for "elite".....have you seen the huge housal compound Malkin lives in?

After reading black dog, I almost didn't post this. But here it is, FWIW.

I have a black and white postcard of Louis Armstrong in a similar pose as he cradles his trumpet in his arms. He is full face looking up while the parody Obama is turned a little to one side. When I saw that postcard, I had to have it, there's such an ecstatic look of Pops' face.

Interesting but Obama will be hit on elitism and arrogance throughout the rest of this campaign.

Very disturbing stuff from Malkin, as always.

Her take on the poster not only implies the lynching of Obama, but his face is drained of color and surrounded by black (at least on my monitor), implying that he's been dead for some time now.

She is one perverted version of a Divine Human, being.

Love,love, LOVE Fairey's poster. Brilliant.

Gotta go see if I can buy one. Or twenty. To post around town ...

Seems to me like Michelle Malkin built her entire career on demonizing the "wrong types" of people.

But apparently it's everyone ELSE who's "elitist"? Hmm.

I can't figure out if you people are too smart for your own good or if you're failing to see something because you're trying to hard to make some over reaching intellectual observation.

"It's an elitist thing you wouldn't understand."

Is obviously a reference to the t-shirts of the 90s that were popular in the black community. The t-shirts read "it's a black thing, you wouldn't understand."

Whats with the conscious removal of blue? Taking Obama's blues away? It feels to me like the photoshopper did it on purpose, i am not sure why though.

It is a shame when someone is constantly condemned for ANY little thing he/she says. This flippin campaign has gotten so out of control it is not even funny.
Regardless of what you people think, these are humans and they will make mistakes from time to time.
Get the **** over it.

Those Obama posters are creepy. There I said it. Are they some propaganda code or what??

As much as I hate to admit it, I think this issue will land with the ignorant lower class unconsious racist voter; along the lines of he insulted me.

Gee, I can't imagine where Malkin would get the idea that Dems are snobs! Sure, she's scum, but she's got a point...

This is classic racism, old-school deep south racism.... this is calling Obama an "uppity negro" - straight up, no doubt, pure racism - but subtle enough to get away with it...

"It's an elitist thing you wouldn't understand."

Is obviously a reference to the t-shirts of the 90s that were popular in the black community. The t-shirts read "it's a black thing, you wouldn't understand."

Good point MrBrown Thumb, I would have missed it had you not pointed that out - but one of the reasons I would have missed it is because Malkin's satire is so lame it didn't make the connection. As others have pointed out, everything about the image gives the opposite effect Malkin intended. She used the wrong image, the wrong typefact, the wrong coloring. And the "It's an elitist thing, you wouldn't understand" is heavy-handed and lame. She could do it so much better if she weren't so invested in the new buzz-word "elitist" that must be repeated in order to hammer home the talking point - they're counting on that word a lot in the next six months, so they have to use it.

In my opinion, it doesn't work. Not only because Malkin is so lame, but it just doesn't hit the target.

They've torn his throat out.

oh please, get a life you losers

the first artist is shepard fairey, and whoever created the second one should be sued for infringment

Too hilarious!

I think Fairey's poster is a 21st century rip-off of 20th century Communist iconic posters used in nearly every life-sucking collectivist regime ever generated. It is purely idyllic, as a good Marxist icon should be(no need to actually BE what you portray). Why do you think DumbO's rise through the election was so heavily reliant upon imagery? The poster, the "O" symbol, the Presidential seal, the "office" of the president elect. Iconic imagery serves to distract. You present eloquent honey-dripped verbiage combined with repetitive iconic imagery and hope like hell you ramm the candidate through so fast the numbed up minions vote like the autonomic Obamazombies they become.

The second poster, however is taken from the viewpoint of one who has observed and is reflecting an opinion. That stands in stark contrast to the first. DumbO IS an arrogant snob, as are the vast majority of the Left leadership the world over. They have no interest in behaving or conducting their lives in the fashion of the homogenous masses they encourage. However, they insist on a common pool of supplicants to supply them feed. I love the fact that that smirking, slimy, Chicago empty-heart has its face upturned in the perfect position for ... a damn solid bitch-slapping, which is exactly what the American populace will provide when the lustre wears off and the ugly face of Marxism rears. America will not be dragged to her knees and forced to choose between two shades of grey for her dress.

Too hilarious!

DeeWillyFree must have been somewhat distracted by the crayons he was eating. The second poster is incompetence on a page.

It would be hard for Fairey to sue for infringment over the Hope image. 1.) it has been dubbed "iconic" by the media and is therefore open to parody and social commentary. 2.) Shepard Fairey has legal issues of his own surrounding the image so it could be that he does not even have the rights to the work.

The press is not telling everything there is to know about Fairey. Mark Vallen and the critic Brian Sherwin are about the only people calling Mr. Obey out on this. Sherwin goes further by suggesting that the Obama grass roots art movement was nothing more than a stealth marketing campaign lead by a pr firm that had worked for the Obama campaign. Check the links below:

Wow, people. It's a freaking campaign sign. He, nor his "people" researched all of those things you insinuated in the making of it. Get over it, and realize there are far more pressing issues at hand than a poster. Is your job at stake? Yeah, worry about that.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003