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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Obama the Great Savior?

Photographed 2 days ago at Pine and Kearny, San Francisco.

As the entire world undoubtedly knows by now, the Senator Obama secured the democratic nomination a few days ago. Good for him, I guess (Who in their right mind wants that kind of responsibility, I wonder, but I digress.)

Almost immediately after the media released the news, this poster (above) showed up on the wall of a building at the edge of Chinatown, San Francisco.

Was this poster really designed by Obama supporters? I'm wondering. Because the more I look at this image of the Senator, and the more I think it's detrimental rather than helpful to his image.

First of all, the image is designed such that you feel like you're looking up, way up (up into the sun, it would seem?) even when you are standing right in front of it. Then, there is the body language - when are people standing cross-armed in front of you (or in this case, should I say 'above' you?) ever good news? Then... Well, maybe I shouldn't say anything else and let you interpret the message for yourself.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but a poster like this almost makes "the other guy" look better.

Careful now.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad the Senator's made it so far, for a number of reasons. But I just don't get this "great savior of the masses" vibe everybody else around me seem to be getting.

Only time will tell, anyway. Personally, I can't wait for this campaign (however entertaining it's been so far) to be over.



Blogger claude said...

Ce poster n'est pas une réussite. Obama méritait mieux. Comme d'habitude j'ai suivi les primaires azvec attention et suis contente que ce soit lui qui l'est emporter. C'est un grand espoir pour le peuple noir Américain.
C'est toi qui voulait voir mon post sur le Dday. Il est fait à la date du 6.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Makes the other guy look better???
That's pretty weak. Unless I'm mistaken that body language is the same as the cover of Newsweek. Stop trying to be insightful...
It's not your strong suit.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw a bunch of people wearing that shirt at Haight st. Fair today. It's better than the lame stuff the Campaign puts out.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you Haven't been paying attention for the last 8 years. OR, maybe you forgot how different this country was in the late 90's. That's where the "savior" thing comes from. A direct result of just how bad things have gotten. People really WANT a new direction. That's probably why you see so many people directly taking part in the process. I don't think it's particularly helpful to sit up here and discourage people getting excited about a candidate. Whether or not you care for the imagery is beside the point. It's a positive sign of involvement .

10:49 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Oh, what a surprise, an anonymous personal attack (12:37) by someone who doesn't know me from Adam.

That's funny, but I was under the impression that a lot of people preferred and voted for Obama in great part because he was the underdog? Plastering an image that makes him look this arrogant on the walls of the City isn't helping him any. You may not recall this but Clinton actually won California, not Obama.

You can attack me [or people on the fence] all you want, but that isn't the best way to go about getting me to change my mind or see your viewpoint.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Jackson said...

It would seem to me that this blog was on the attack. I don't think anyone is trying to change your mind. Perhaps just disagree with you. If you don't like people disagreeing than maybe you shouldn't post your opinions publically. I am neutral as far as the poster goes, but as for the perspective, would you prefer a poster where you are looking down at the candidate rather than up? I don't think that would be very inspiring.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

[to anon 10:49 am]
Oh, but I have been paying attention! I have lived in this country for a long time, and I remember very well not only the 90's [did you mean the Clinton administration?] but also the 80's!!! It's really hard not to notice how the country's been steadily going down the drain, believe me, and it's not a good feeling.

But imagery IS important, in fact, every little thing counts, especially now that the Democratic party is practically split in half. In case you haven't noticed, the package is much more important to most people than the actual content (I would even say that the reason Hillary Clinton did not get the democratic nomination has nothing to do with her ability to do the job but everything to do with the fact that her campaign sucked from day 1), but hey, that's just my opinion, of course.

So listen, now is really not the time to screw anything up and yes, imagery *is* important.

I still don't buy the "great savior" message, but it'd take me too long to explain that one. Maybe we can just agree to disagree, or something.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Jackson, Hi.

No, no, I don't have a problem at all with people who disagree. I think this poster (image) just pissed me off, and I sometimes use the blog to get stuff like that out of my system.

I'm also annoyed with the "great savior" underlying message. It's as if the country expects someone to come up and waive a magic wand, and make all the problems disappear. Come on!

11:58 AM  
Anonymous jackson said...

I agree Hillary was more than capable, her campaign did suck. She failed to communicate in a effective way and she went negative. I don't think the party is in half. I can't imagine a Hillary supporter who is gonna vote for McCain instead or Obama. That would be ridiculous. Ideologically they are polar opposites. Imagery is important, as you've said. I don't think there is anything wrong with a candidate seeming confident, intelligent and dignified. That is not the same thing as arrogant. I for one have always wondered why Americans shy away from candidates who seem more intellectual. In 2000 people said the same about Gore, he seemed snobbish. So they voted for a good ol' boy. Bush seemed like a guy they could have a beer with. I'd prefer to have a president who is exceptional not average.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


First, by way of full disclosure, let me say that I am a big fan of Obama Street Art and thus, unequivocally biased with regard to this issue. And I am curious to understand your adverse reaction. Your post made it sound like you just thought it was poor design, poor strategy. But then one of your comments indicated it pissed you off.

I definitely cant make you like the poster, but I can tell you why I like it. First, it motivated me. As an Obama-supporter to begin with, I saw an image similar to this one on a trip to San Francisco and it got me excited and it inspired me to do more.

Second, I think that images like this communicate to a younger generation of which I guess I am a part in a way that no other campaign imagery has. It is subversive and unfiltered and it represents someones own self-expression.

There may be other reasons I like it too. Its different.

Anyway, I am genuinely curious to get a better understanding of your reaction. And Im curious whether you think it would have a negative affect on the campaign.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Jackson, Mark: I'm sorry I had to step away from the computer yesterday and I can't stay long right now, so you probably won't get the detailed, thought-out answer you both deserve.

Let me just say a couple of things real quick. First of all, the thought that this poster was made by young people for young people didn't even enter my mind at the time, or else I wouldn't have posted my rant. Everybody is entitled to self-expression - including me saying I didn’t like it, by the way ;) and the fact that the young people are taking an interest is, indeed, pretty cool!

I don’t know how to explain why this image is rubbing me the wrong way in just a few words. Maybe it’s because I approach *every* candidate with a healthy dose of scepticism. You have to! So the “hero” message doesn’t work for me.

Also, I think the timing contributed to pissing me off (poster showed up as soon as he got the nomination, and for all the people who supported the other democratic candidate it feels a little “in your face”).

As to the image, perhaps the fact that he looks like a little bit like a comic book hero doesn’t appeal that much to me (again, I don’t care for the “Superman” message).

But most of all, what pissed me off - and whoever designed the poster had nothing to do with that, I realize that - is that I’m just sick of all the constant Obama propaganda around me and in the local paper (SF Chronicle) almost every freaking day since the campaign started.

The media is so freaking slanted either one way or the other, it’s a disgrace. You have to look really hard to try to figure out the facts from the reality. I don’t know, I’m just really frustrated right now with the whole campaign. The country is a mess and they’re spending millions of dollars talking about nothing.

Anyway, hope that helps.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Eddie said...

Hi. I thought I'd respond as I am the one responsible for the aforementioned poster. I would encourage you to keep that healthy dose of skepticism, it's important. However, be wary that it doesn't cross the line between skepticism and cynicism. I have watched this country change in ways I find both offensive and extremely disappointing over the past 8 years. I do what I do to express my strong support for my candidate. This is my way of exercising my freedom of political expression. I certainly don't expect everyone to love or agree with what I do, but I am involved and I am participating and I am sincere in wanting to help put our country back on the right track. At very least this poster has created a dialogue and that is a net positive. I think it's interesting though, that with all the consumerism and advertising that surrounds you probably everyday, in the form of much bigger posters and plastered on every inch of available space, that you would take issue with this one little poster. I would think you would be more offended by say a huge billboard trying to sell you a new SUV, or some new manufactured food. Perhaps you are tired of all the Obama propaganda. I am tired of all the republican fear propaganda, and this is my response. I create my own propaganda to offset theirs. The visual dialogue as you walk down the street should not be dominated simply by consumer goods and the agendas of those who can afford to purchase ad space across our landscape. I'm just trying to interject with something I feel matters.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...


Your comment, too, deserves a better answer but I can't stay online very long, so this is the best I can do in a hurry.

You're quite right in everything you just wrote, including the fine line between scepticism and cynicism (I should know, I cross it all the time!)

I sincerely hope you keep doing what you feel is right and go right on plastering your posters where people can see them! Whether someone like me likes the message or not is completely irrelevant. Like I said, the timing of the poster probably had a lot to do with my reaction.

Now we only have a few more months to determine what the candidates really have in mind, and I hope the journalists won't be asking stupid questions like "Why aren't you wearing a flagpin?"

I'm very glad people are taking an interest and getting involved. Gotta run, sorry.

PS. I don't even see the billboards anymore (unless it's an iPod commercial, those are always cool ;)

10:34 AM  
Blogger Alexa said...

Hi, Tomate --
Interesting discussion. There was an op ed piece by Roger Cohen in the NY Times on June 9 (sorry, I don't know how to put the actual link here). It's called "The Good American and Monsieur Obama" and in it Cohen says "His face is everywhere [in France], sometimes in socialist realist images evoking Che Guevara."
Sounds like this poster, doesn't it?

12:32 PM  
Blogger claude said...

Oh ! C'est bien pour éviter ce genre de discussions que je ne fais pas de politique sur mon blog !

12:42 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Hey, Alexa, nice to see you! Yeah, I've heard someone else mention something like that, as well.

I've also heard things like " In November, I'm going to hand-write 'Hillary Clinton' on the ballot" (that's in SF from people who are *registered* democrats). I'm not sure if the dedicated Obama supporters realize how strongly some of the people who voted for Clinton feel right now.

I don't know if you remember that, but Sarkozy (French president) also was running under 'Change' (actually, I think it was "reforms" rather than "change." Same difference.) So, they elected him and now his approval rate is lower than Bush's?

Claude : merci pour la visite et les commentaires! J'ai un autre blog ou je suis beaucoup plus neutre, je me contente juste d'y mettre des photos et des explications neutres. Mais sur cette page, ici, je me permets de dire un peu plus ce que je pense (tout en faisant quand meme attention a ne pas depasser certaine limites).

8:58 AM  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

On a different subject:

2:28 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

You're right, Louis, it's time for a change of topic. Well, here you go!

6:21 PM  
Blogger Nathalie said...

Ooooh, an interesting conversation going on here.

I agree with your view that image analysis is extremely important in decoding the hidden message. Good on you for trying to see beyond !

(I'll be back to read the whole set of comments, no time now)

3:54 AM  

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