Highlighted Selections from:

Batmobama and ObaMarx: the Meanings of the Material and Visual Culture of Obama Mania


DOI: 10.1093/jdh/eps054

Kramer, E. “Batmobama and ObaMarx: the Meanings of the Material and Visual Culture of Obama Mania.” Journal of Design History 26.4 (2013): 345–361. Web.

p.346: As one writer reflects, ‘Barack Obama has seeped into the world’s collective unconscious to a massive degree, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the bizarre, inappropriate, and downright silly products people are hawking out there.’ Another frequent charge was that Obama and his campaign exhibited ‘style over substance’, an accusation for which the material and visual culture of Obama mania served as evidence. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.346: This consideration is further enriched through focusing on Obama-themed objects produced by the craft community in considering the significance of making these objects in support of the Obama campaign and presidency to a culture whose creative skills have been increasingly put to use in the arena of activism. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.347: This engagement, in which personalised creative activity is used in an attempt to change the world for the better, has been termed ‘craftivism’. The DIY spirit, social networking and active community engagement, already present in the craft community, were all strategies used by the Obama campaign. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.349: Daniel Miller urges that we view kitsch not as good taste’s ‘other’, but value the ‘positive role in the formation of sociality’ it plays. Its form and humorous nature make kitsch interesting and approachable and thus it becomes a powerful vehicle for political expression. As Judy Attfield has pointed out, ‘kitsch can use humor to be subversive and make powerful political statements by exaggerating artificiality and making light of serious concerns.’ -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.350: As Tapper points out, crafters have been making for causes for a long time, offering the example of volunteers knitting for soldiers and sailors, ‘but the ability to galvanize crafters around the country and beyond has been multiplied immeasurably by the powers of the Internet. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.355: Dora Apel investigates the racist imagery leading up to the 2008 election and argues that the meaning surrounding an image ‘is not anchored to intent; instead it is produced by the discourses that surround the image in the arenas in which it circulates. [.  . .] A caricature [. . .] only works if there is immediate recognition of the object being caricatured.’ Representing Obama in the manner of earlier images of Jemima ties him into her long history of ‘knowing her place’—the kitchen, subservient to white owners or bosses—neutralising his powerful position in society. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014