Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama Cult of Personality Part 2

I love Shepard Fairey's iconic Obama image, but as I discussed in an earlier post, I wonder if he hasn't been looking at propaganda designed to promote sinister charismatic leaders, such as Mussolini, or Mao. 

The trope of leader as the head of the body politic is a classic of dictators' propaganda imagery, you see it in portraits of even lesser known strongmen like the subject of my obsession, jailer and persecuter of my family, Francisco Franco, below.

In his efforts to imitateMussolini, Franco had the benefit of a Fascist propaganda office in his territory, templates were created to quickly spray paint his portrait on the walls of newly-occupied towns and cities. These spray paint templates resemble the Fairey Obama icon quite a bit.  

Here is an image of Franco, and Mussolini, below

Above is a fascinating photomontage where the masses are the black shirt uniform clad torso and the ben-day dots indicating the mechanically reproduced nature of the image echo the visual metaphor of a multiplicity unified in one body. 

And of course, the masters of propaganda, the Maoists, had a way of fusing Mao with emblematic architecture, Tianamen Square, and the masses, just like Shepard Fairey places Obama within our national shrines of political power. 

I still cannot get over the genius of Fairey in playing visually with Obama's bi-racial background, making his face two colors, but also perhaps alluding to his middle of the road be all things to all people persona.

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