Anti-Obama Street Art in LA, Is It For Real?


Recently, images of US President Barack Obama depicted as the Joker (of Batman fame) have been popping up on the streets of LA and flooding the rightwing blogosphere & news sources.

One blogger, Tammy Bruce, used the opportunity to slam the Prez with the title “You Know B. Hussein Is In Trouble When…,” while the American Thinker used “Barack Obama, laughingstock” for the title of their post.

The first mention of this, according to NewsBusters, was in the April 25 edition of Bedlam Magazine:

A poster of Barack Obama in Heath Ledger-style Joker make-up with the legend ‘Socialism’ beneath it has been popping up recently on surfaces around L.A.

One poster supposedly popped up on a KFC in Georgia with the words: “Why so socialist?” (though judging by the comments below the post, it may have been a Photoshop job)

There are a slew of images on Flickr but no one seems to know the identity of the artist, which raises a lot of red flags for me. Perhaps this is not by a real street artist but some right-wing group attempting to demonstrate popular discontent with Obama’s policies? Anyway, it strikes me as a little too polished and politically confused so I’m not convinced this is a “grassroots” effort.

I’ve tried to follow every lead I’ve spotted online but to no avail yet. The most likely so far, which I found via a comment at the bottom of the Bedlam Mag piece, was BUREAUCRASH, who describe themselves as:

Bureaucrash is an international network of activists, called crashers, who share the goal of increasing individual freedom and decreasing the scope of government.

I’ve shot them an email and will let you know if I hear back. Anyone know who this is by? Or have an idea of a possible lead? If you do, please let me know…this is one mystery I’d like to solve.

One blogger at the also thinks this isn’t really street art but  a coordinated right-wing effort:

Although reports at this time are unconfirmed, it is being reported that the release of the Obama Joker posters may be a coordinated endeavor across the US today by groups or organizations angry with the President, presumably, over issues relating to the proposed universal health care.

Btw, the image references Obama’s appearance on the cover of Time Magazine, the date of that first appearance is on the top left of the poster, October 23, 2006.

If this is indeed “street art” (which I doubt), then this poster may actually provide an answer for Paul Schmelzer (of Eyeteeth), who posted a very provocative piece on Art21 a few months back which asked “Where’s all the rightwing street art?

9 responses to “Anti-Obama Street Art in LA, Is It For Real?”

  1. forumandcontent Avatar

    Hey Hrag,

    Just curious: Why do you think it wouldn’t be street art if it were put up by a conservative organization? If you think the “Enjoy Banking” stickers are street art, then it seems like this would count, too. What is it about its being organized by a politically unified group that disqualifies it as street art?

  2. hv Avatar

    If it was a grassroots group that would be fine. But if it turns out to be part of a lobby group of some sort that’s different. I should’ve been more specific in that regard, if it is affiliated to a political entity or a lobby group then I think it becomes illegal advertising.

  3. houri Avatar

    Fascinating… very curious to find out who is behind it… I suppose freedom of speech works both ways but I still do not like seeing an image “plastered” all over that represents something so negative and false.

  4. […] lot of asking, probing and following every lead I could possibly find, there is no sign of who the artist behind the Obama/Joker image could […]

  5. Kris Avatar

    The Obama Joker $1000 Video Contest WINNING entry from the San Francisco Bay Area crew of Joe and Kris:

    http //www. /watch?v=tmbOIF8AJ7E

    Obama is a front man for a cartel of fascists, monopoly men, and determined eugenicists. This is not about black or white, left or right, it is about OUR FREEDOMS!

    If we do not exercise them we will LOSE THEM!

  6. […] out the origin of street art can feel like tipping at windmills (I never figured out who posted the Obama/Socialism posters in LA) … but sometimes it works. Today was one of my better days. Behold the story […]

  7. DevilDoodle Avatar

    You DON’T know who the artist is…? Well, maybe it’s because he’s a STREET ARTIST. In case you didn’t know, street art is ILLEGAL, and if he said who he was, he would get arrested, moron.

    I mean, what kind of graffiti artist would tell the world who they are? Not only would they get arrested, but most graffiti artists love the secrecy and the aspect of having a kind of alternate alias. But regardless, him NOT going to jail matters more.

    And you make it seem like it would be SO hard for a street artist to put up a few posters. They got so much publicity, TONS of people put em up now. All you need is the internet. You can even make your own with Photoshop.

    You are a moron.

  8. Hrag Avatar

    @DevilDoodle: You could have saved yourself the embarrassment by asking if anything you said was true, because it isn’t. 99% of street artists are known and particularly to other street artists. Considering you’re commenting from Arizona, I assume this is all very new to you. The person who created the image is well-known (LA Times reported on it in September) but the person, company, PR firm, advocacy group, etc. who placed the posters up in LA is still unknown.

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