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Why the anti-Obama jokesters need a different way to spoof the president


Raising one's fist defiantly against an oppressor is part of being an American. And doing so to someone as powerful as the president of the United States is not only admirable, but, most would say, downright patriotic.

Which is why I appreciated the creepy, surreal and plain-old-scary posters making their way around Los Angeles this week by an artist who has yet to reveal himself. Political discourse via street art is one of the things that makes this country great, especially if the images are shocking and powerful and weird. The Obama-turned-Joker posters were just that.

However they picked the wrong comic book character to lampoon the president. The Joker, especially the most recent one, is just way too...

cool -- a trait Barack Obama's detractors tried to use against him when he ran for office last year.

Think about who's played the Joker on TV and in the movies: Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and most recently Heath Ledger. Do you really want to complain about someone by calling them suave, hilarious and dashing?

As the kids say: You're doing it wrong.

 Also, the Joker was resourceful and relentless and fast on his feet. He was ambitious and creepily charming. He often sported a dark smile on his crooked face. Oozing with charisma, he wasSocialism quick to toss out a funny tale. In that sense the Joker was like many politicians, but as Batman, Commisioner Gordon, and the rest of Gotham could attest to, the Joker was unlike most politicians because he actually had follow-through.

Talk's cheap, and when you want cheap talk the Riddler is your man, not the Joker.

But finally, and this comes from an LA Now commentor, you can't put a "socialism" tag under Obama/The Joker because The Joker is not a socialist, he's an anarchist. Ledger's character didn't rob from the rich or from the banks to give to the poor, he burned the money. He blew up hospitals. He even murdered his fellow clowny gang members. That is the epitome of someone who sees beauty and order in chaos -- thus, an anarchist. 

Political art is just that. And although it's easy to use Photoshop to apply a green tint to hair and some red tones around the lips, accurate, biting, long-lasting social commentary is an art. Which is usually why the best examples are created by artists like Robbie Conal, Shepard Fairey and Banksy. And why the lesser pieces are tossed off by... jokers.

Kudos to the creator of the poster, but perhaps a more fitting villain would have been Egghead, played by Vincent Price during the kitschy '70s Batman TV series; a foe more intent on puns than evil, but allegedly the world's smartest criminal.

Better yet might be Black Mask, whose cult-like following mirrors that of the president's underground rise to power. And of course he has that black mask and all -- that's clearly hiding the fact that he wasn't born in this country, and probably hails from Sweden, the Bethlehem of Socialism.

-- Tony Pierce

Top photo of Heath Ledger as the Joker courtesy Warner Bros. Bottom photo via KTLA

Comments () | Archives (31)

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How about no spoof. Obama is doing a good job with the horrible economy that he inherited.

why is it bad taste now? i dont remember the uproar over the bush picture. that was showing him as the joker. i guess its ok to make fun of bush, but dont you dare make fun of the messiah.

Obama has made the national economy much worse than Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would have used a more appropriate character Like Marx, Lenin or Stalin.

.....I am missing words to describe what I think of the poor guy who wrote that piece of junk!

Holy god! Did you go to school ? I can't see how someone can be againts Obama's politics, anyone with a brain would be glad to hear is healtcare reform!

Stop thinking about your big bag of money and start thinking about those in need.

A real patriot stand up for is people and community, puking all this about your own president IS the real anarchy...

Poor always.... lots of them have to say something...but only a few have something to say. was OKAY for Vanity Fair to "mock-up" a picture of GWB as the Joker...but doing BHO this way isn't! Guess the Liberals have a real double standard!

An anarchist is not "someone who sees beauty and order in chaos"-- anarchism aspires to a non-hierarchical society based on mutual aid. The Joker is a sociopath-- he's actually a great metaphor for trans-national corporate capitalism, so in that respect, an apt parody of Obama-- burning up large amounts of capital to "reform" a merciless, murderous monetary system.

About the 'Black Mask': Is the 'underground' still underground when it's a majority?

The poster is dead on - socialism now, the anarchy comes later

I stopped reading this article half way through because it was just terrible

You losers. The Joker burned money. Obama's not.. oh wait. He is. The JOKE's on us. Quit getting all technical.

The fact is, Obama is a socialist/marxist, and the message is clear.

This is the dumbest posting I've seen since LA Weekly's selective outrage and pathetic attempt to attach racism to this issue.

I've driven all over LA trying to find them and still haven' t seen any. Apparently teh news is trying to hype something that isn't even there

I agree with Maritza above.
If a politician is acting like a fool, or in any reproachable manner, than go for it- but be ready to back it up FACTUALY!

And what is wrong with SOCIALISM anyway? The people I meet in Europe seem to have a higher quality of life than the average American, with little fear of falling thru the ever widening cracks in our society.!

You missed the point. Obama claimed that there would be no, "...giant lurch to the left..." When in fact everything he has proposed has been a nasty mix of socialism and corporatism (fascism by Mussolini's definition). The joke is on us.

The Joker robbed a bank
Obama robbed us blind with his 'stimulus' bill

The Joker blew up a hospital
Obama wants to blow up healthcare

The Joker commandeered two ferries
Obama essentially nationalized the auto industry

This one is a stretch, but some believe it to be true:
The Joker was commissioned by the heads of organized crime to kill Batman
Obama is destroying the last bastion of liberty and freedom in the world while the likes of Chavez and Castro cheer him on.

Alex - you are correct about patriots standing up for and helping the community. It should not, however, be accomplished with the central gov't as the clearing house.

Paul - Socialism simply put, gives more power to those that are elected to do with and regulate lives as they see fit. If you would like to lay down and take your medicine as given, go ahead. But don't step on our Constitution to do it. Read the 10th amendment. If you disagree with it, amend it with the procedures in place. Don't pretend it doesn't exist.

I think that the juxtaposition of the joker with the words socialism makes sense. It's supposed to denote irony! It's meant to imply that Barack Obama's form of "socialism" might actually arise out of engineered chaos (not unlike 911). Obama's been continuing the Bush agenda. He's gone back on most of his campaign promises. His staff is mostly Fed-friendly Wall Street. Order through Chaos is a method of control by the ruling elite. If you don't know history, then you, or your children will be victims of "World Order." The ruling elite has always gained control by promoting chaos. The fake swine flu pandemic is a good current example. Allowing the international bankers to loot the country under the premise that it's for the people is another. These manufactured crises are all aimed at promoting a predicted reaction by the public. The public is then shepherded by the criminal ultra elite.
Read these quotes, and then do some research of your own - before it's too late!

Obama's hardly a socialist.

You guys talk Socilaism like it's a BAD thing. American become Socialists the day they retire. SOCIAL Security, Medicare. I'm pissed because I was in L.A. a week too early although I hear the posters are somewhat scarce.

I think the Joker is the best comparison to be made. I know it hits hard by the comments I've received from my coworkers about my new desktop wallpaper. At least it opens a channel for discussion so I can explain to them how I was on board with the "change" but now I realize it should have been "lies". Sure, he changed a lot of things... but he hasn't ended the war, he is pushing hard for more wars, he's stirring stuff up with Russia, he hired more bankers and lobbyists to be on his cabinet after promising not to... the list goes on and on.

New king, same as the old king. Wake up and see that there is no left vs. right, its us vs. them. Americans need to work together and stop believing in this two party system... we must demand real change!

one more thing: Socialism saved my life once. I was in France visiting a friend when I became seriously ill. I was so sick I had to go to the hospital.

Even though I was a 'foreigner,' the hospital took care of me like I was one of their own. They gave me medicine (for free) and follow-up care until I was back to healthy.

If I'd have gotten that sick in America, I would've died waiting for treatment that I couldn't afford.

So talk all of the smack you want. The truth is the light, and I'm ALIVE and here to tell you all about it.

PS: Bush was the worst. Way to leave behind a devastating mess for the new kid to clean-up.

President Obama is a clown who paid a billion dollars for his seat of power. Our tax dollars will fund the Democrat war chest.

I'd rather have socialism instead of the fascism that the far-Right is into these days. Bullying people at town-hall meetings? Assaulting congressmen? Seems like fascism to me. Keep destroying yourselves, Republicans. I know an Independent voter who is really disgusted with your bullying behavior. You need the Independents if you are going to win elections, but I guess you're going to keep losing them.

Apply your analysis of how wrong-headed this poster is, to the joker image of Bush last year by Vanity Fair. Were you as dismissive of that image? Are you saying Bush was suave, dashing, resourceful, cool, charismatic, fast on his feet, and charming?

Sorry losers. This country wasn't founded on people's willingness to give their possessions away. People didn't come here expecting handouts. This country has strayed so far from what it once was that it's getting ugly. If the government is going to run everything and give the sorry lazy bums everything they want then what is the point of working hard? To just have it all taxed and given to the moron with his hand out, crying because he never got a fair shake! I thought you sad libs were all Darwinists! Well, here's a Darwin LAW for you. Survival of the fittest.

Impeach Obama.

"Obama is hardly a Socialist."

Big Brother has spoken. Comrade Obama is no Socialist, therefore, it must be true.


National Socialism is not the change the United States needs. Citizens have a right to protest against bad change.

how about all yall kiss obama's ass

>That is the epitome of someone who sees beauty and order in chaos -- thus, an anarchist.

That's a lie. That's not what real anarchy is. Real anarchy is simply the lack of coercive government. That's all. Get a clue.

Where can I get the T Shirt???

I'm waiting to see the black face appear next. It may be a good thing for all of us that Obama became president because we all are now being forced to face the demons that exist among us and have for decades. We may want to laugh openly at these types of images of the president, but deep within we all know what emotions are at the root of images like these (thanks to freedom of the press). I am sure that you all must be thinking "RACISM" but that's definitely not what I'm talking about. It appears that the 43 million people without health insurance have lost their collective voice, because the thought of health care reform which would benefit the poor and needy of this country has touched a raw nerve of a large number of heartless, selfish pigs. but make no mistake, I would not ignore the race card sice a great number of citizens without access to health care are among the so called minority groups. Keep talking you selfish pigs because what you're doing so effectively is letting the rest of the world see how little we care about our own countrymen.

Exactly! I have been trying to wrap my head around the Obama-as-Joker image all week to no avail. There's no satire too it.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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