Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Other Political Halloween Masks

It turns out that you can find Halloween/monster images of other political figures:

here are a few:

First: Reaganstine

It will be noted that this mask, unlike the Obama mask, is actually rather "cute" and "cuddly." The guy looks more like Herman Munster than the genuine Frankenstein's creature.

Next, Sarah Palin as a "rogue Zombie."

A bit more gruesome than Reaganstein, but still a nice smile and much more clearly a "funny" and "goofy" Halloween Mask.

Again contrast that with the cruel face of Baruckula:

The difference strikes me as very marked. Finally however, there is a parallel to Obama, with Bush as a Vampire:

It would appear, then, that my worries about Racism in portraying Obama were without foundation? Not so fast. Here again is the Obama statue of Liberty/Vampire picture:

Notice that obama's features are greatly exaggerated in a parody of stereotyped ideas of African American faces, but Bush's normal face is used. Why is that?

Why is "Barackula's" mask cruel and malicous looking, but Reaganstine, lovable and grandfatherly? And why is Palin's mask merely goofy?

Perhaps the vampire images of Obama are not racist, I don't insist that they must be, but the differences in portrayal cries out for explanation, and racism is clearly a possible explanation of these different looks.Bookmark and Share


  1. You think the Palin mask is "funny" and "goofy"- not scary? The demented squinty eyes, the large smile with blood seeping through the teeth, her hair dripping with blood? Even the shape of her eyebrows is sinister.
    Imagine, for a moment, that Palin was black. Would that particular mask still be "funny" or would it be "racist"?
    It may be that part of the reason you feel the Obama mask is more scary is because Palin is a woman. Men are "scarier" than women. A combination of sexism (men are more capable) and general physical differences (men are generally larger and stronger than their female counterparts).

    As far as the difference in the pictures, I would have to see more of the political artists' pictures. Is there one artist or two? What is the favorite style of each artist? If the first is to draw more life-like and the second artist likes caricatures, I see no real problem, other than the second artist directly stealing the first artist's work. (The statue and the hands.)

    Racist? Possibly.

    Is this also racist? http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_RpxH3Mc_GZA/SRXf8RoepbI/AAAAAAAAAYw/gh6I5XBpC6o/s400/Obama+caricature-final-sm-sig.jpg
    Or this?

    Racist works all ways, against everyone. We are products of a society that has a long history of racism. I think we must be careful when declaring something offensive- make sure our own bias isn't at play. Is it offensive because it wrongly attacks us as a race, gender, or minority group or offensive because we merely don't like it?
    Republicans and teabaggers may take offense at the Palin mask. But why?
    Bush-supporters may take offense here. Notice the nostrils flared in aggression, the evil angle that the eyes and eyebrows are set at, the pointy shape of the ears, the mouth set in disgust.

    I'm hesitant to assume statements directed against Obama is about race and not politics. There are so few PoC in politics that it is easy to jump to conclusions. There are so few women in politics, as well, that it is easy to make wrong assumptions. Is that political cartoonist attacking all women by making Palin curvy and empty-headed, or just Palin?

  2. Thank you for your comment Anonymous. Your reply is very thoughtful and well argued.

    A few things.

    1) I agree with you that the Barackula mask is not necessarily racist. It struck me that way, and I wondered about it in the first post I did about this. I'm not sure in the end if it is, but I gave my reasons for thinking it might be racially charged.

    2) The Palin mask does not strike me in the same way, but your description of it is telling. In particular, it reminds me how subjective such reactions (including mine) are.

    3) About the other links you post: portraying Bush as a monkey cannot be the same thing as portraying Obama as one. There is a long history of racist mockery that portrays African-Americans as monkeys or monkey-like, there is no such context for whites. Now, I grant that people portraying Obama as a monkey might not intend that context, but the consequence of it being present is unavoidable.

    4) Finally, I agree that it is off base to assume that all (or most) statements directed against Obama are about race. Criticism of his Health Care plan, foreign policy, or whatever, need not be, and usually are not, racist. I do note, however, that he has been subject to much racism, which is unsurprising as there are a lot of bigots out there. But not all, nor even most, criticism - I think - is of the racist kind.

    Your last picture of Bush is very telling. That picture too is demonization. You make a compelling case for reading the Barackula mask as, perhaps demonization, but not necessarily racism.

    Thank you for your comment! Keep em coming!

  3. Did you notice how happy Obama was, in the Statue of Liberty pix, to be sucking the blood? The American flag backdrop? And the Obama pin on Lady Liberty? This is on par with the Conservative argument that Obama ran for office to get back at the American people (reparations), he has no regard for any American - even those that supported him and that he uses American values to manipulate the public = he is not one of us.

    To even suggest that the imagery is not racist is a denial of a history that is still with us.


Comments from many different points of view are welcome. But I will not publish any comments that are hateful, insulting, or filled with profanity. I welcome and encourage dialogue and disagreement but will not publish any hate speech.