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December 5, 2008

Your Turn: Remnants

Morris Obama posters.jpg

After spending years subtly skewering Bush, McCain and the Republicans, this is a pretty stunning image from photographer Christopher Morris. The photo, titled "Remnants," appeared last Friday on the TIME White House photo site.   

I hesitate to say anything except… what are you thinking?

(image: Christopher Morris / VII for TIME. caption: Obama posters remain on a a wall in Washington, D.C.)

  • Siobhan

    I had two separate thoughts looking at this.
    One, I imagined this was the logical conclusion Steve Schmidt had in mind with the “celebrity” ads. A faded poster like some Teen Beat foldout, peeling away on the wall while the vapid pop-culture obsessed teenybopper public moves on to the next Flavor of the Week.
    Of course that would be a total lie… if anything people are asking for more Obama, both in substance/policy (windfall taxes? withdrawal timetable?) and personal clout (asking for his guidance in the bailout). So two, it may be a commentary on the return to reality for Obama’s supporters, the stylized image being chipped away. But it seems like an incomplete picture. All that’s revealed behind it is the wall.
    First time comment long time reader btw!

  • Sybil

    The condition of the posters stands in great contrast to his expression and highlights his strenth and resolve. The campaign is over. He fought and won, but it is not a time for celebration. He looks embattled, but ready to stand firm and thoughtfully face the onslaught of problems headed his way.

  • Rewind

    There seem to be 2 types of people who tear down ephemeral posters. The anti-clutter, mildly crazy “How dare you show me that?!” sort who tear from the centre outwards. Then there are the souvenir hunters who stop when it appears the desired poster will be damaged — better to leave up the poster relatively intact so we can still appreciate it. These appear to have been half ravaged by the latter.

  • Antonio

    Quite appropriate.
    We all need to do the same to the “hopes” created during the campaign, both the public and private hopes. I suggest the “Hope” poster be replaced by one that says “Work”, perhaps with sleeves being rolled up, not too Soviet like, but emblematic of continued effort.

  • Michael

    It’s not only the anti-clutter who tear the middle of posters. It’s also those who hate what the poster represents. But that is not what has happened here. So a subtle testimonial to respect for the person behind the poster, even while it subsides into the vast urban clutter of fading imagery.

  • momo

    What I see is a depiction of tattered dreams…

  • Progressive Mom

    No matter how much people tried to tear it down and rip it up, hope is still here and conviction remains.

  • JayDenver

    After An earlier post on the McCain campaign. The circus always moves on — unless you’re in Las Vegas.

  • zatopa

    It’s surprising that they waited this long to try to convince us that hope has overstayed its welcome. Republicans are attempting to spin Chambliss’s nigh-inevitable retention of his Senate position as the beginning of the end for Obama; they work through absurd statistical contortions of to try to substantiate the “center right nation” meme; Joe the Plumber is publishing a “book;” we’re supposed to get all despondent about various high-profile appointments to the cabinet. But the fight has not even begun yet. Obama is not yet even in office. This isn’t even the end of the beginning.

  • mudkitty

    Doesn’t anyone get the Andy Warhol in the image?
    Repetition, repetition, repetition!

  • thirdeye pushpin

    Hope Ho…
    Has Obama been whoring us hope?
    Will we be dissappointed in his promises?
    How long will the glow of victory last, its emotion placating us…when we will actualize hope or we will enter bitterness.
    It was at the bottom of Pandora’s box.

  • Michael (The BAG)

    Welcome Siobhan! First time commenters/long time readers warm my heart.
    I almost titled this: “Tough town.”

  • ahpook

    Obama weathered the storm. The message remains.
    It would be a brilliant move to change the slogan to WORK (the O even stays in the same position). The image would need to shift too though, to show a line of folks stretching off into the distance. Definite echoes of Soviet Realism, like this one:
    (can’t get it to embed properly, here’s the link)

  • Bsg

    It reminds me how fast paper wears away when left out in the elements.

  • Antonio

    We’re agreed on the work. (See my earlier post!) But just as I mentioned, the Soviet tendency to dehumanize by aggrandizing could not be a part of the visual. NOT.

  • jkh

    ‘Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

  • Esoth

    There has always been an ambivalence in the press about Obama because despite his obvious image-and-media-savvy presentation skills, his message ultimately was directed at the electorate and not the media itself. A counter-intuitive bonding occurred between Bush and the media, even as Rove became more and more brazen in his manipulation of the media, often in ways that showed an underlying contempt for the media. Implicit in all of the hard-ball sophisticated tactics and use and control of imagery, was the premise that winning and dominating the media battle was the whole ball of wax, the game itself. Rove’s lavish attention to media detail was gratifying even when it wasn’t complimentary to the media, because it reinforced the idea that for all the candidates’ preening and purring, it was the media who ultimately told the voters how to think and vote. They were the critical element in the equation.
    Obama’s ability to work around or despite of the press threatened their self-perceived status as the players in the process. Obama’s ability to organize and inspire the masses through the Internet and more traditional grass roots organizational tactics ofter worked quietly in the background while the press lurched all over the map after the latest polling blip, or the latest sound-bite flap. The media were often reduced to reporting (imagine that) on Obama events rather than shaping them, and they resented the hell out of that, and fear it still. They have had to go along with the tide, but the faded Hope image suggests their resentments are still simmering. Since “Hope” wasn’t a media creation, it was derided. Obama was criticised as being vague and slick, and the crowds dismissed as trend-seeking and shallow. Events proved otherwise. The idea that Obama and the people can continue to have a conversation (see, for example, the Saturday YouTubes) keeps the media awake nights.

  • Meredith

    This scares me. I almost see it as a collage of his Presidential years. The righthand poster on the top row looks as if his heart has been torn out, the next one shows how ravaged he is and the Hope is gone. The penultimate one restores the Hope although he is still pretty battered. And the final one shows him pretty much together except for the deep lines and crevices in his face. This is going to be a difficult eight years.

  • Len

    Don’t be so cynical! We can only HOPE that the poster isn’t a prelude to the reality.
    Maybe a leader with a positive attitude is what we need, lord knows we haven’t had anyone we could trust or believe in for a long time.

  • Meredith

    I’m sorry you interpreted my comment as cynical; it wasn’t meant to be at all. I just saw the poster as a symbol of what the next 8 years could do to the man. Our problems are so enormous and wide ranging that they would test the strength of anyone. I believe he is the best person for the job, and I am behind him 100%.

  • MS

    Obama has not yet been sworn in, and some are imagining his downfall. Or the downfall of the ideals and optimism that put him into office.
    I’m impressed to have been called to an ObamaBiden house party next weekend, to discuss “what’s next” “how will we interface with the new administration” “what do we hope to see” (with 150 available within 50 miles of my house).
    The train is still moving forward, even if the old posters have not yet been removed from the walls.
    PS I like the image, were it not so poignant in its implications.

  • mjfgates

    Tens of thousands of these posters went up in cities all over the country, and people do put up the same poster in long rows like this, and posters get ripped up when you leave ‘em up. I could go anywhere from Seattle to Miami and find this same block of posters, ripped pretty much like this. They’re mass-produced ephemera.
    Interpretations of the image are.. not significant. Remember that sequence of photos about two posts ago, where the auto executive was really just wiping his eyes, and the mainstream press spun it to be a Deep And Meaningful Gesture? Anything “important” you try to say with this photo is like that; you’re trying to add Special Meaning to something that just doesn’t have any.

  • Sergei Andropov

    Welcome to the BAG, Siobhan ;)

  • charlie

    It would be a devastating image if Obama had lost.

  • mudkitty

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • chachabowl

    Looking at the photo of weathered Obama posters on plywood, I smiled at the memory of a Star Wars movie poster from thirty years ago that was designed to look like an afterthought slapped up on plywood. You can see a picture of it here:
    Maybe we could retitle this thread as “Episode November 4th – A New Hope”

  • Porlock Junior

    Antonio has called it. Work, after all, was a major theme of Obama’s campaign, though the obvious fact seems to have escaped the press as well as the right wing, which of course needed to believe that the faction he represented was the Welfare Queens. But remember, “We can’t quit now, when there’s so much work left to do.”
    Anybody want to guess what the major theme of his inaugural address will be? Looking forward to the endless commentaries by pundits making parallels to Kennedy and to Churchill? (I’m not; I’m already sick of them and their repetitiouness and trivialization, and the speech won’t happen for another six weeks. Probably shouldn’t comment at this hour of the night.)
    Anyway, a time to hope and a time to work; and don’t be surprised if Ecclesiastes shows up in the post-inaugural comments, too.

  • Tom White

    Here’s one I took before his nomination…

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