The Joker + Barack Obama

The Joker + Barack Obama


… equals JObama? The Jaracker?

If you haven’t seen these posters yet, they are apparently sprouting-up in and around Los Angeles as a type of street art, a la Shepard Fairey.

But here’s where the ‘joke’ falls flat: Obama is nothing like the Joker.

[and this is where you discover my nerdliness]

Anyone who is a fan of The Dark Knight (comic books or movies) knows that what’s striking about the Joker character is that he is an anarchist. He describes himself as an ‘agent of chaos’. These qualities are the antithesis of socialism.

If the Joker were a rabid socialist, he would have attempted to destroy Gotham City in the name of an all-powerful government. Instead, he was trying to destroy the city and in the process he nearly takes down the government as well (by using many of its own employees no less).

Barack Obama, by contrast, is a calm and collected character (publicly at least) and is not prone to fits of crazed rage and violence. He is not an anarchist, rather a community organizer.

Oh, and Obama is not white — but I’m not going to delve into the racial over/undertones here.

So, what have we learned here kids? Basically, the artist(s) who created these posters do(es) not understand the Joker (or Batman lore for that matter), socialism or President Obama.

…unless of course they were simply trying to say that ‘Obama is a joke’, in which case I would have used slightly different imagery.

[cross-posted at]

  • Tully

    He is not an anarchist, rather a community organizer.

    Not disagreeing (Obama is certainly no anarchist) just pointing out that given the rather loose nature of what calls itself a “community organizer” the two are not mutually exclusive.

  • The Pajama Pundit

    Tully, your point is valid — but I would also argue that just about any definition of community organizer would indeed be a stark contrast to an anarchist.

  • Tully

    Sorry, I’ve known too many “community organizers.” :-) Sadly it’s used more as a label, not a definition, and the label is often false advertising.

    But I was digressing in any case. The originators of the poster wanted a scary image with some dark humor, and you’re quite correct that for apt message they were WAY off target. Now, had they used Ross Perot….

  • kranky kritter

    Why in the world would you think the makers of the poster care a whit about aptness on such an intellectual level?

    It’s iconography. It’s a powerful image that says that Obama is bad, and it calls him a joker. The message is that he is dangerous, untrustworthy, kooky, and must be opposed.

    And as a picture, its a visceral message that can’t be opposed by reason. That’s why such imagery can be effective. Is it fair? Not really. Does it make much rationale sense to compare Obama to the joker? Nope. And do the preceding two points matter? Also nope.

  • d.eris

    What Batman, or other, comic villain does Obama most resemble then? Two-Face perhaps? But that could apply to any number of Democratic and Republican politicians.

  • Trescml

    Actually Batman is closer to being a socialist, but a picture of Obama as Batman qualify as a scary (and racist). The image will delight the right, disgust the left, but may cause a small group of people in the middle pause if only subconsciously. I am starting to think this is the new right wing strategy–knock away support little by little in mostly non-issue ways. The question is does this push people toward the right or away from it?

  • gerryf

    But the hoot is once again, these people don’t get it.

    The original Boston Tea Party was a protest at the tax breaks given to the wealthy East India Trading Company while the common man got nothing.

    The modern tea baggers–a label they gave themselves and proudly trumpet which is hilarious in and of itself–protested when most of them were getting tax breaks and the plan was to increase a tax on the wealthy.

    And now we have the inverted Joker imagery.

    Yes Kranky, it is a powerful image, and yes, it eggs the intended audience on, but ultimately, either the message senders are idiots and don’t have a clue, or they have no respect for their audience who they treat like morons because they can rile them up with the bizarro iconography.

    Personally, if I was a tool of the right, I would be offended that my leadership had so little regard for my intelligence that they would shovel this crap at me.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    This poster may be a response to a 2008 Vanity Fair article where President Bush was depicted as the Joker.

  • jacob.donklephant

    If they’re going to do it, they should do it right.

    The Ross painting is a powerful image that incredibly “apt on an intellectual level”.

  • David

    If you wanted a negative comic character for President Obama, perhaps Ozymandias, the Kingpin, or perhaps Lex Luthor – they’re all about control and polish. If the sentiment was more “he doesn’t say what he means” then Bizarro would work well too.

    All of those would make more sense than the Joker. However, I saw a lot of caricatures of President Bush which likewise made no sense either.

    And of course, who can forget Obama: wrong on Batman

  • kranky kritter

    Yes Kranky, it is a powerful image, and yes, it eggs the intended audience on, but ultimately, either the message senders are idiots and don’t have a clue, or they have no respect for their audience who they treat like morons because they can rile them up with the bizarro iconography.

    Well since you concede that they chose a powerful image and successfully egged on their intended audience, how can the message senders be idiots? I think it’s clear on its face that the intended message is disrespectful, so why whine about that?

    What I think the Obamaphiles here don’t get is that the anti-Obamites are seriously enjoying themselves with this picture. Really now, it should not be very hard at all to cast your minds back to the fiendish glee that Bush haters experienced when righteously finding ever new and better ways to hate GW Bush.

    Then as now, it was never about being fair or erudite, or about treating their audience(s) with respect. Then as now, it was about disparagement, by any means necessary. Plain and simple.

    That picture above is not nice. And it strikes a nerve. And that’s all that the image is about. We’re what, just over 6 months into the Obama admin. So there’s a ways to go. Obamaphiles are going to wear themselves out losing their minds every time someone takes a shot at their hero. But hey, whoever wants to write chapter 89 on “why the other side is wrong again about everything including all of their ideas and every approach they take”, knock yourselves out.

    It must be sort of like Sting singing Roxanne, though.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    I’m happy to wear myself out calling Republicans idiots. Call it a hobby.

  • jacob.donklephant

    KK: Lots of people still listen to Roxanne – some even still scream along with Sting: ROOOOXANNE!!!

    The Donklephant community seems to like it in the background, occasionally pricking our ears, but mostly focusing on the task at hand: keeping the union intact.

  • gerryf


    I said they were either idiots because they got the reference wrong, or their audience are idiots for being bamboozled.

    I didn’t say both were idiots. One or the other. They just both cannot not be idiots.

    Ouch, I think I hurt my brain with that last double negative…..maybe I can be a Republican now….I feel…I feel…like Obama is from Kenya!

  • The Pajama Pundit

    You see, this thread is why I love The Donk! =)

    Tully and Kranky are indeed right, the artists don’t give a whit about the honesty in the imagery — they just want to scare people (which seems to be a recurring tactic in many conservative circles).

    d.eris, Two-Face is a good sample (for any number of politicians). How about Underdog? =)

    Jimmy and Jacob, the vampire depictions of Bush 43 are indeed striking as well. I had never seen the Ross painting. I would argue that none of these are necessarily appropriate, but when offered as socio-political commentary one can hardly fault an artist for being controversial.

    Likewise David, I had never seen the Obama: Wrong On Batman toon. I laughed out loud. Your other Obama-as-comic personae are spot on too.

    And yes Jacob, keeping the union is tact is an undertaking of which I am proud to be a part, along with all of you. … and ‘Roxanne’ is an awesome song too.

  • Tully

    The most effective political snark propaganda is rarely honest. The effect of it is meant to be emotional, not intellectual, and form follows function.

  • kranky kritter

    I actually saw Sting a few weeks ago. And he sang Roxanne. Again. And it was good for me.

    But Sting himself mentioned “do you know how many times I’ve sung this song?” during the performance. The point is that it gets tedious for Sting.

    Sting’s voice is in extremely good form for a guy his age by the way. He hasn’t lost much of his vocal range at all, I don’t think. I bought the tix as a gift for my wife, who I knew would really enjoy it, not because I’m a huge fan. But it was a very, very, good show.

  • jacob.donklephant

    Tully, I agree. The Ross painting, however, is an exception. It certainly appeals to emotion but also expresses genuine, intellectual concern. Function and form!

  • Joshua

    The perfect fictitious villain to represent socialism isn’t the Joker or any other comic-book character, but a literary/movie character: Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (She also appears in the last two books in the series, but Order of the Phoenix is where the socialism allegory is most obvious.)