The first shot of the Agitprop War of 2016 has been fired and it looks like a pile of steaming, uh,"feces."
New York street artist "Hanksy" recently painted Donald Trump as a huge, steaming pile of "s***" – replete with buzzing flies and electric hair. Ludicrous and puerile, but par for most progressive communication. At least it's a clear enough likeness that no one is asking who it is. Seeing this is not Hanky's first "unflattering" portrait of the presidential hopeful, he apparently doesn't care for his fellow New Yorker and "misguided hair mogul."
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Desperate for any attention on stale progressive politics, the local Gothamist website reported the wall art was "stunningly lifelike." There's more to come, which is great, as long as the feces and possibly higher life forms in art flow in both directions.
Not unexpectedly, the left is gearing up with cartoons, films, songs and tiresomely trite slogans to serenade their favorites. It's a politicized media assault on the sanity of Americans who can't escape (short of living in sod huts until the indignation has passed).
It's shades of the dark days in 2008 when artist Shepherd Fairley plastered Obama's little-known mug across 27% of all surfaces in the US – and even more electronic ones. His appropriated image featured a dour and glowering Obama – something between beardless Rasputin and an FBI "most wanted" photo.
What Fairey understood is that for leftists, the Nazified, Stalinist, hardliner implication is a good look indeed. The "OBEY" injunction was a bit of overkill, but it worked. Obama's unyielding, hostile glare spoke volumes to Fairey's crowd: "Only follow in the (designated, clearly marked) paths of politically-correct righteousness and you will never have to think for yourselves again."
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Now they are rallying the troops. Anyone from 8th graders with spray cans to the entire audience of the last Academy Awards will be enlisted to push for the party of Lost Hope. Yet there are a few artists, very few at this point, who are rallying behind GOP candidates and offering art to prove it.
There seems to be few venues for hip, conservative art at this point. What is (or was) there has a habit of quickly disappearing off the web. Interesting images referred to in the Independent Journal Review and some GOP sites came up with art spaces entirely blank. Of course it's a coincidence.
Obama's monster poster phenomena, unfolding with just a few formulaic images purloined from a photographer, should give artists food for thought.
Donald Trump: Poop artist Hanksy coyly claims he wants to be "Donald Trump's answer to Shepard Fairey" (referring to the artist/groupie who made Obama a household face). Trump appears to have spent little of his own moohlah on image and hype, since he is getting most PR free at this point. That could change.
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SABO, the ubiquitous and highly-charged artist, is open to change political mood as well. He's quietly worked on several projects for conservative candidates – or against some of them. The LA street artist has a few tentative things on Trump, offered up with very mixed messages.
Mock deer-crossing like signs announce "Undocumented Democrats say DUMP TRUMP." But his pièce de résistance high satire and possibly blasphemy (he is not particularly religious) stars Trump as a crucified billionaire.
The large photo-collage piece has something to offend all comers. Mock crucifixion by media (hands and feet hammered by ESPN and ABC and the like). Jeb Bush lumbers by on a rhinoceros, with a unmistakable finger salute.
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The suffering entrepreneur is surrounded by a cloud of business rejection icons related to Trump's political statements and stands. Macy's dumped his clothing line, Univision and especially ABC canceled his shows. And he lost building contracts. Big ones. Trump may have been somewhat crucified financially and SABO is giving him his due – but not his loyalty. That spot has belonged to Senator Ted Cruz for years.
Ted Cruz: Street artist and political activist SABO speaks of the power and might of Ted Cruz (slightly hyperbolically). Snarly, tough guy Cruz was born in 2011 mostly from SABO's concept of the ideal conservative. But Cruz can hold his own. He believes Cruz is "kind of a badass," ticking off the Washington establishment.
If Trump's dazzling popularity is due to the inner boardroom (street) brawler who knocks out liberal bullies – "Kapow!!!" – Cruz is the cool brains of the "gang" against the corrupt capitol machine (along with his peers, some of whom are running as well).
SABO comes up swinging in response to juvenile media attacks on conservatives. Thus "Ted Cruz, Vampire Slayer" was born. SABO details his inspiration. "In response to the True Blood (HPO) episode that decided to call Republican women 'Republicunts' during what they portrayed to be a Ted Cruz rally, I decided to create this STREET poster," he notes.
SABO was recently smeared by two "writers" from the Texas Tribune. Aman Batheja and Patrick Svitek found the artist guilty of controversial [conservative] statements, which are not tolerated in fluff media.
It isn't hard to find something offensive by SABO, as he disdains diplomacy. Yet the Texas Tribune accused him of "rooting for the assassination of President Barack Obama, cheering on the beheading of journalists by ISIS and using racial epithets." When taken into context and considering sarcasm (which apparently are no longer taught in journalism classes), SABO said nothing of the sort.
That didn't stop FBI agents from knocking on his door about this musing: "Imagine if every Secret Service agent just up and left their jobs tomorrow, that would be brave. Taking a bullet for a turd is just stupid."
Crude, vulgar and tasteless, but not a threat by any means. Being appalled by the idea of "taking a bullet" for the president is part of their job description. If it were a "threat," every anti-war protester and pacifist opposed to "taking bullets" for the nation would be under investigation as well.
SABO's house guests may be part of the reason artists are wary of publicly supporting true conservative causes and candidates. Progressives are a vicious lot with a tendency to professionally lynch straying conservative artists.
Bosch Fawstin (winner of the "Draw Mohammad" cartoon contest) takes on the media, noting biased coverage, even between GOP candidates. From his website he offers opinions on a mound of things political – with pictures. He also supports Cruz, addressing media slights, as if ABC and CNN were bullies in a digital playground.
Fawstin received a Twitter invitation to the White House after his win of the anti-Islamic art contest. Similar to the invitation sent to school boy science-punk Ahmed Mohamed, it appears official enough. Fawstin mentions that he never responded to the POTUS.
But the GOP has been branded "uncool" by the powers that be for decades – a death sentence in a nation taught to value hip flippancy before honor ... or much of anything else.
GOP candidates have a few artists solidly behind them, but they need to be more globally spread and seen. Posters and viral graphic memes are thought to significantly help win or lose the last few elections. With the Huffingotn Post and New York Times employing professional prevaricators for disinformation, someone needs to blow their cover once in a while. In blazing color.
Rand Paul: Paul is highly-educated and photogenic – which appear to be the most valued qualities for president recently. Paul is also a fiery pro-lifer like Cruz, Rubio, Santorum, Huckabee, Jindal and, miraculously, most Republican contenders. This, and their ties to the media-cursed Tea Party, leave Paul and others susceptible to a type of political leprosy: unclean and uncool, with orders to be closed down if they can enforce them.
The Huffington Post is so frightened by Rand Paul that it resorts to calling him a political "insider" after only four years in the Senate. Staff at the "Huff and Puff" also confuse "outdoors" with "indoors" and need a great deal of signage to find their way about.
Artists and PR firms have a big job – to rehabilitate an image trashed by the Gang of Four and One-Half. That's CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and occasionally Fox.
Dr. Ben Carson is being offered as the intellectuals' Tea Party candidate – and his posters sometimes stress that. Carson also caused a stir and gladdened hearts of Tea Partiers and sane men everywhere by claiming straight-up he would not support a Muslim president. Will controversial artist Bosch Fawstin rally to his side now? Unlikely, since his man is Ted Cruz. "I admire him (Cruz) despite his religiosity, as he admires Ayn Rand despite her atheism," Fawstin explained.
Bobby Jindal has attracted more "anti" campaign posters than almost anyone but Trump. This may be a good sign, as real threats always brings out the worst in slogans and art. Democrats particularly dislike minorities that wander out of their corrals.
Mike Huckabee is such a mild-mannered and civil guy that there are few "hate" posters, but also few interesting pieces of art either. All they could come up with was typical leftist school yard mentally: Arkansas, inbreeding and the same stuff they walked around like a dead attorney on the road for the Clintons.
A designer using the moniker "Elfyboy" created bipartisan designs for presidential hopefuls on buttons and other merchandise at Zazzle for a few dollars each. I like this Huckbee/Ike take off since it reminds me on one stuck to my grandparents' desk championing Eisenhower for decades.
Carly Fiorina: Her campaign art is so far very traditional, although there are a few fan posters pushing her gender over all.
Rich Santorum is in a special class when it comes to the arts. He was so despised, feared and loathed by radical progressives that they effectively took over his "brand," attempting to annihilate him in the public eye. I hope to write a separate column on the fate of Rick Santorum at the hands of the art and entertainment communities – not that they will necessarily have the last laugh.
There are at least 19 declared candidates still running and ones I've skipped are because I haven't encountered much – or any – art related to them yet. (Okay, an exception is Jimmy McMillan of "The Rent is too D*%# High" party – currently a subset of the GOP and equally ignored by both parties.)
We need artists and creatives to help win elections in the 21st century, especially when people no longer use a candidate's voting record, the most logical indicator of what they'll do next. Even Jesus advised us that "You will know them by their fruits."
If the state-aligned media continues to control the spotlights and picks political stars, conservative artists must find other ways to get their work in our faces. Conservatives especially need reminders, as so many forgot to vote.
The problem with being an artist generally comes down to having a roof over your head – and even a street artist can't be on ladder at 3 a.m. all the time. Missing handouts from Soros and Clintons and standing against a Hollywood firing squad, conservative artists of all types need your support ... so they can support you.