WaPo Slams Obama/Joker Posters as 'Coded,' 'Racially Charged' Stereotypes

An article in Thursday's Washington Post lashed out at the viral Obama-as-the-Joker posters, attacking them as promoting "coded," "racially charged" images. Art critic Philip Kennicott smeared the images, which have been showing up in Los Angeles, as flat-out bigoted: "The charge of socialism is secondary to the basic message that Obama can't be trusted, not because he is a politician, but because he's black." [Emphasis added]

In the August Style 6 piece, Kennicott provided this incendiary take on the poster campaign: "Obama, like the Joker and like the racial stereotype of the black man, carries within him an unknowable, volatile and dangerous marker of urban violence, which could erupt at any time." The Post writer did acknowledge that a similar image deriding Bush as the villainous character appeared in the Vanity Fair in 2008. But he spun this Joker poster as somehow worse:

And didn't we see George W. Bush depicted as the Joker not so long ago? Yes, in an image by Drew Friedman published online by Vanity Fair on July 29, 2008. That drawing at least played into a view of Bush popular among his detractors, that the former president was unpredictable and fast on the draw when it came to geopolitics. But the danger many of Obama's detractors detect is more of calculating, long-standing deception, that he is quietly and secretly marshaling a socialist agenda, a view that would be better served by imagery that recalled "The Manchurian Candidate."

The Post writer went on to explain why the new image is not a "good poster." He justified, "The Obama Joker poster leaves you with the sense that it has said everything it has to say, and waits only for the media to endorse the message through the legitimizing process peculiar to our new age of rapid-response journalism."

Continuing the argument that the Obama/Joker posters, which feature the word "socialism" underneath, are racist, Kennicott found nefarious meaning in the very use of the iconic Batman character:

So why the anonymity? Perhaps because the poster is ultimately a racially charged image. By using the "urban" makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker, instead of the urbane makeup of the Jack Nicholson character, the poster connects Obama to something many of his detractors fear but can't openly discuss. He is black and he is identified with the inner city, a source of political instability in the 1960s and '70s, and a lingering bogeyman in political consciousness despite falling crime rates.

The MRC's Matthew Balan reported on Tuesday that when CNN's Jeanne Moos examined the viral campaign, she focused mostly heavily on left-wing anger towards it.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.