Think back. Did you ever recall, in American history, a presidential candidate depicted in this way? Do you recall ever seeing the same type of campaign posters produced by FDR, JFK, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Kerry, Gore, McCain…..and so on…and so on….?
This has always been the difference between the United States and Dictatorships: Idol Worship. Not anymore.
You know, sometimes, when walking down the street, I will see a fool wearing her Che Guevara t-shirt. I loathe her — for worshiping a monster she knows nothing about — or knows everything about, and still idolizes. And then I wonder what it must be like to be a Cuban, whose relatives were slaughtered at his hand — walking down the same street to see his family’s butcher memorialized on a five dollar t-shirt. I wonder what it must be like, for him to see Obama posters rendered in the exact same fashion as Che’s.
One of the closest people to me in life, comes from the former Soviet Union. When he sees this type of depiction — when he sees the Obama shirts and posters — it deilvers flashbacks of the Soviet propaganda that plagued every street corner he walked. And invokes horrific memories of the oppression and horrors he endured.
And lo, Obama has chosen to be portrayed this way. In fact, he personally thanked the “street-artist,” Shepard Fairey (appropriate name), who came up with many of the Obama campaign posters you see now.
“Shepard’s Obama posters are reworkings of the techniques of revolutionary propagandists — the bright colors, bold lettering, geometric simplicity, heroic poses — the “art with a purpose” created by constructivists in the early Soviet Union, like Alexander Rodchenko and the Stenberg brothers, and by America’s own Depression-era Works Projects Administration. Works on the walls of his studio and on his Web site include depictions of Sid Vicious, Chairman Mao, Noam Chomsky and Vladimir Lenin”
In a thank you letter to Shepard, Obama writes: “Dear Shepard, I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can help change the status quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign.”