« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Glenn Beck's zombie art scandal

January 25, 2011 | 10:34 am


The Great Christmas Ornament Scandal is now officially a zombie story -- up from the grave and refusing to die, even though it's completely fake, thanks to the supernatural ministrations of Fox News "art critic" Glenn Beck.

In December 2009, a conservative blogger claimed the White House Christmas tree was festooned with the image of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, supposedly clear evidence of President Obama's hidden socialist sympathies. It turned out that the ornament actually featured a famous painting by Andy Warhol -- one that lampoons Mao -- but the inane charge ricocheted around the Internet nonetheless.

And now it has returned -- dredged up by Beck on his television show as back-story to the equally fatuous claim that superstar Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who performed at last week's White House state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao, used the opportunity to secretly insult America. Lang performed a song that is a patriotic anthem in Communist China.

I'd say you can't make this stuff up -- except for the fact that, in Beck's case, that's exactly what he does. For art, it's always "The Night of the Living Dead."


Lang Philip Glass, Lang Lang among Pacific Symphony's 2010-11 season highlights

Music review: Lang Lang and friends

Music review: Mehta, Lang Lang and Vienna Philharmonic at Disney

Gustavo Dudamel and celebrity


--Christopher Knight


Comments () | Archives (18)

I suppose that if it was a Warhol painting of Hitler or Stalin, that would be just fine with Knight, too.

As a viewer of both FOX and MSNBC it is often easy to agree with both Conservative and Liberal voices when they yell "Foul" at positions or comments made by hosts of commentary shows (i.e. Beck, Maddow) on each network. However, your position that the Warhol of Mao "lampoons" him is an inaccurate depiction of what Warhol's intentions were at the time he created it and, more over, the pop icon status Mao has since achieved because of Warhol.

Displaying an ornament on a National Christmas tree with the picture of a political thug who did not celebrate Christmas and in fact would have imprisoned somebody that did publically celebrate Christmas in his country is nothing less than a snub at Christmas and what it represents to the overwhelming majority of US citizens that celebrate the holiday.

The question must be asked....given the situation and the known audience, is this the best choice out of all options available?

Same can be said for the Chinese patriotic piece played at the White House. While it is a beautiful piece of music to listen to, was it the best choice given the thousands of options I am sure the talented player had, the audience, and venue.

There are obviously better choices for both the ornament and the piece of music, therefore some pesonal reason was taken into consideration and that reason must be questioned.

I don't know how anyone can take Glenn Beck seriously. He spins things so much he's making me dizzy.
Dude1 uses both "Hitler and Stalin" WOW that's original!!
Google "Godwins law"

leave glenn beck alone. he is the best thing that has happen to this country in some time.

Nixon went to China.

Dont argue with idiots/crazy people/republicants.

China is our bank. Be nice, and simply repay the loan before the terms change. Stop whining, and be responsible, cutting taxes during time of war was the most irresponsible thing in history. Never done before, pure greed on eveyones part.

Support our troops, give them a debt free country to come home to, and stop spending on selfish materialist crap like contempt art!

Though actually, we owe Japan more now. Pay your debts America? Raise taxes and stop being spoiled children, and cut everything we can. But not education, got dumb enough brats as is. But teachers are on salary freeze just like the rest of us working stiff who have suffered cute hours and benefits, like most of us ever had any or cost of living raises, riiiiiiiight.

Mao killed millions more people than Hitler & Stalin combined, estimated at 60 million. But for some, like Knight, a portrait of Mao is a "lampoon". If they were European and not Chinese, would Knight and pals think differently? Webster calls a lampoon "a harsh satire". Warhol's Mao is a pop icon, not a harsh satire, and it's the worst of ignorant "taste" to hang it on a Christmas tree. Mao hanged (well, to be precise, shot), Christians by the thousands.

Lang played a Chinese household song called "My Motherland" which depicted the fighting of Chinese troops against US troops during the Korean War, the song goes, "If the jackals come, we will greet them with guns." nice tune take a bow obama


Whose to say the "jackals" arent Japanese? They are the ones who invaded China, though Mao's son was killed by us in Korea. I doubt if the word is jackal, wolf makes far more sense as interpreted, as jackals are from africa.

You a re putting your own values onto others, a common trait of both wingnu ts

Were there pictures of other mass murderers hanging from the White House Christmas tree that year? Was it a theme?

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it. –Robert Frost

Even IF the picture of Mao was from an Andy Warhol "spoof," it was INAPPROPRIATE on the White House Christmas tree!!!

I do agree it was inappropriate, Mao killed tens of millions. However, its hardly a conspiracy, just too many "clever" contempt art grads at the White House as aids.

art collegiadelenda est

I don't know why Glenn is so scared, because everybody knows zombies only eat brains.

OMG! What a ridiculous man. Once again he used fear and paranoia to stir the pot. What is wrong with this guy? He needs counseling for his mental instability.

NOT what's wrong with Glenn Beck; what's wrong with US? Turn it off. Just turn it off. Boycott companies that sponsor Faux News and let them know why. Beck is a self-proclaimed "entertainer." What is wrong with us as a society that his lies, hate, and fearmongering constitute entertainment? If we stop buying, they will stop selling.

this guy's so hard to listen to. his delivery is hokey at best and he's just a pot stirrer w no real message. i wish him and the palins and the kardashians would take a breather


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.