Photographic Evidence that All Politics is Fiction

further proof that politics 1

further proof that politics 2



  1. No you didn’t, because I haven’t read anything from the Wall Street Journal in months, much less something that would pertain to this post, but perhaps you could share a relevant link.

  2. I was teasing, but if you haven’t read the article it’s right up your alley:

    Totalitarian kitsch exists to glorify the state, foster a personality cult surrounding the dictator and celebrate ceaseless and irrevocable social and economic progress through images of churning factories and happy, exultant workers…

    …Vladimir Putin’s office released photographs of the Russian prime minister on vacation that are nothing if not totalitarian kitsch. One shows him bare-chested on horseback, another swimming butterfly in a river. “Putin’s action-man holiday album,” was the BBC’s snarky headline, and they were right. All political leaders try to project an image of vitality and vigor, but these photos went farther in their attempt to portray Mr. Putin as somehow superhuman. As such, they are of a piece with the propagandistic purposes of totalitarian kitsch in which the leader is turned into a larger-than-life icon.

    From “Why Dictators Love Kitsch, Wall Street Journal 8/10/09

  3. Thanks for the link, Dan.

    I’m adding the photo of Clinton and Kim Jong-Il, which should have occurred to me in the first place.

    Why doesn’t an article like this talk about US propaganda? The photo of Gates and the Cambridge policeman sharing a beer at the White House is at least as manipulative as Clinton’s photo in Korea. Barack Obama is still identified with that iconic Shepard Fairey poster that looks, to me, like a direct homage to Soviet and Chinese propaganda. A few months ago I blogged about an Austrian movie director who places “Air Force One” right alongside “Triumph of the Will” as a piece of political propaganda.

    If we’re going to scoff at Putin for taking his shirt off (and we should) we should also try to recognize when we’re being played.

Leave a Reply