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.

Inauguration Merch

One of my dear friends is in DC and has been describing the myriad T-shirt designs available on sale for the Inauguration. I requested the official Shepard Fairey "Obama with the Capitol behind him" image. However, now I am pondering what other tchotchkes I might buy to add to my political propaganda collection. I have many pins already: Obama's name in Hebrew, two versions of the Latinos for Obama, a Boricua for Obama, an Obama logo pin with the Puerto Rican flag instead of the Stars and Stripes, two of the Shepard Fairey from Philadelphia given to volunteers - one from the get out the vote weekend I participated in, with the word "Vote." 

But the thong below just opens up so many possibilities.....and it's a great way to vet (hypothetical) sex partners for political correctness. Nice. It also goes well with the Che Guevara thong that I commented upon in an earlier Collecting Schlock post.
I am fascinated by the Presidential Barbie doll. I almost got it for my little niece who is now old enough to ask for Barbie instead of Polly Pockets for Christmas. I ended up getting her the traditional White one with a crazy long blonde weave and she seems to like it, but since she was so into Obama that she asked random people to vote for him while running errands with her parents, it could have been a nice motivational feminist PC toy for her. Well, there is always her birthday. 

I might need to by the sneakers below. If only Andy Warhol were alive, not only would he paint a portrait of Obama, but he would probably design and wear these!