Signs, Signs, Agitprop Signs ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: May 13, 2008 4:54 PM
MKH's post (featuring the banner with Obama's mug on it) got me thinking.  You know those Obama posters?  They scare me.  

poster3.png picture by MattLewis01

Other countries love posters with people's faces on them.  They parade them around at rallies and marches.  It smacks of fascism.  That's not our style. Give me a good ol' sign with someone's name on it, any day, but the pictures of faces ... I can do without.

Cane.jpg picture by MattLewis01

Another thing about it.  It's unabashadly the cult of personality (like Mussolini and Kennedy).  It's the epitome of symbolism over substance.  It's the kind of stuff that punk-ass kids would put on a tee-shirt ...

ernesto-che-guevara450x-1.gif picture by MattLewis01

I'm not even crazy about the Uncle Sam "I want you!" posters -- but at least Uncle Sam is fictional.  The thought of glorifying the image of a political leader just rubs me the wrong way.

... Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way.  I found this LA Times column of interest:

"The Obama poster has spread Fairey's fame, but is the image good for the candidate? Like the photograph-turned-icon of Che Guevara -- which graces the T-shirts of countless hipsters who barely know who the guy is -- Fairey's Obama poster is rooted in the graphic style of agitprop. There's an unequivocal sense of idol worship about the image, a half-artsy, half-creepy genuflection that suggests the subject is (a) a Third World dictator whose rule is enmeshed in a seductive cult of personality; (b) a controversial American figure who's been assassinated; or (c) one of those people from a Warhol silk-screen that you don't recognize but assume to be important in an abstruse way.

This cannot be the Obama campaign's idea of good public relations, I find myself thinking as I stare at one of the ubiquitous Fairey posters while waiting for my soy chai latte. It's just too bohemian and too vulnerable to misinterpretation, too much the visual equivalent of your parents smelling incense and thinking it must be pot."