Obamart - Macleans.ca
 

Obamart


 

obama_diptych_sized

From the items-that-could-become -columns file:

One of the most remarkable — but ultimately, I think, dangerous — results of Obama’s victory is the way he has become an instant pop culture icon. The resonances of the famous agitprop  image by Shepard Fairey underscore both the promise and the danger of the way Obama is being portrayed, part Warholian icon, part dictator.  It doesn’t leave the man much room to maneouvre, with little margin for error. Where does he go from here? Take the left fork, and he risks becoming the leader of a personality cult. Take the right, and he’s just another pretty, empty vessel of the sort popular culture throws up every now and then. 

It’s not an either/or thing, obviously. People wil eventually calm down, and his presidency will become normalized.  And he might just manage to find the sweet spot of governance, keeping his overly-fanatic base reasonably happy while bringing the skeptical or openly hostile along with a combination of good policy and his seemingly limitless powers of persuasion. 

Anyway, while I understand the excitement over his victory, I’m not sure that relentlessly casting him in works of religious/fascistic propaganda art does the man any favours. Time will tell, as always. Meanwhile, for all you cultural studies grad students out there casting about for a thesis topic, here you are.  


 
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Obamart

  1. Great Art work! Wow… cool
    Also , a good blog! thank you for this post!
    Norman LeBoon SR

  2. “Take the left fork, and he risks becoming the leader of a personality cult.”

    He is a already a leader of a personality cult, it’s a bit late to worried about this. I think how dire the reporting has been on the Blago case shows how in the tank many in the msm, and people in general, really are. Obama comes from the most corrupt culture of politics in America but we barely hear anything about it. All anyone talks about how he’s stopped the rising of the oceans and how he’s healing the planet.

    Obama’s cult of personality was launched long ago and many are still part of it. It is pathetic.

    • I read a piece a few weeks back that said by most measures Illinois is only … only … the 7th most corrupt state. I forget the rest but Florida was # 1.

    • The cult of personality is hardly surprising given the staggering incompetence and mendacity of the outgoing administration. Can anyone here be explicit about the “danger”, or are we to content ourselves with dire harrumphing?

      As for the Blago case, aside from guilt by association, is there anything there at all?

      Anyone? Anything? Citation, please.

      • As for the Blago case, aside from guilt by association, is there anything there at all?

        That’s immaterial. It just matters what gossip, rumour or idle speculation is sufficiently novel to command the public’s attention during a highly competitive news cycle. God forbid the rest of us be exposed to actual evidence before we’re allowed to make up our minds.

        • Yup

          And god forbid any of us wait to see actual evidence before making up our minds.

          It is all too tempting to leap to the conclusion that we really want. Some around here leap with show and enthusiasm (kody, for one). Others are too smart to leap but sit on the sidelines asking serious questions. The serious questions amount to artificial smoke, but that’s plenty for those who want to shout “fire!”

          • My point about msm and their treatment of Obama is that they aren’t looking into his connections with Blago and many other shady characters. Obama, Emanuel and two others were basically Blago’s campaign manager when he ran for governor in 2002, and Obama endorsed him again in 2006, but there has been little to none investigation into these ties.

            Why isn’t the American msm looking into these connections? All the msm do is listen to an anon source or two within Obama camp and then proclaim The One is innocent of any wrongdoing. Obama team released a report the other day that exonerated themselves and the media was entirely credulous. Why were more reporters sent to Wasilla to investigate Palin than there were in Chicago looking into Obama’s past. I am just curious what the American msm think they are doing.

          • “My point about msm and their treatment of Obama is that they aren’t looking into his connections with Blago and many other shady characters.”

            How do you know they’re not looking? Because nothing incriminating has been found so far?

            Honestly, the number of people nowadays who believe something because there’s no evidence to the contrary is frightening. And they’re such a waste of time, to boot.

  3. I’m not sure that relentlessly casting him in works of religious/fascistic propaganda art does the man any favours.

    One shudders to think what the bored and lazy media would do if there weren’t easily-obtained artifacts of mild-to-extreme pro- or anti-Obamafanaticism to capture its attention and to push it to speculate idly on emerging trends that may not in fact be developing or may be of trivial public import. Report factually and critically on policy and legislation? Engage in investigative, well-researched reporting to bring to light issues (and that may include genuine cultural movements) that are substantive based on a body of credible evidence?

    Group psychology isn’t just a product of people naturally coming together by the force of shared ideas they’ve developed independently through a rigorous process of empirical observation, exposure to wide variety of information and the application of critical thinking. It’s also a function of groups of people simply focusing on what they’ve been exposed to. If we have a mass media that is overly enthralled with the imagery and symbolism of charismatic leaders (or, for “balance,” one which confuses critique with cynicism to interpret imagery and symbolism falsely or consistently negatively), then the rest of us are just going to go along with it, because we have no other choice.

    I take Andrew Potter’s warning seriously, but I’ve been asking myself (since the Reagan era and ‘Morning in America’….I was too young to be swept up with Trudeaumania) why we (the masses, as it were) consistently fall into uncritical groupthink and hero worship (or entrenched bitterness and cynicism) and have come to the conclusion that it has nothing to do with *us*. It’s really a reflection of what our media and its mystifying process of editorial decision making are preoccupied with.

  4. It couldn’t be any worse than the last 8 years of Bush worship.

    • My personal favorite Bush Cult quote comes from Powerline, Time’s 2004 Blog of the Year:

      “It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.”

  5. It couldn’t be any worse than the last 8 years of Bush worship.

    Actually, it could be. Trouble is, with an uncritical, lazy media, we never know just how effective a particular leader or administration is until long after the fact. Even then, it just becomes a competition among widely diverging “histories” advanced by people who may or may not be in possession of any credible evidence or who may or may not have even been paying attention at the time.

    Kind of like of whole generation of people born in 1980 who claim to understand what the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney years were like.

    • Uuumm, yup. My tired, aching back came into the world in 1948. I can remember when it seemed like there was an outside chance of an informed people being sovereign. That was before 1980.

      • I can remember when it seemed like there was an outside chance of an informed people being sovereign.

        You mean such a time actually existed?

        • Ok. A little over the top, maybe.

          But the world – the western materialist one we live in, at least – turned into a nastier, meaner, more spiteful place after 1980. And a lot of us have been persuaded that’s good for us.

          • It’s become a much dumber place, that’s for sure, particularly with the rapid expansion of media and information technology that quickly replaced a narrow field of authoritative and credible information with a glut of bewildering and/or useless propaganda masquerading as news and current affairs.