Obama Joker artist unmasked: A fellow Chicagoan
August 17, 2009
By Mark Milian
When cryptic posters portraying President Obama as the Joker from “Batman” began popping up around Los Angeles and other cities, the question many asked was, Who is behind the image?
Was it an ultra-conservative grassroots group or a disgruntled street artist going against the grain?
Nope, it turns out, just a 20-year-old college student from Chicago.
Bored during his winter school break, Firas Alkhateeb, a senior history major at the University of Illinois, crafted the picture of Obama with the recognizable clown makeup using Adobe’s Photoshop software.
Alkhateeb had been tinkering with the program to improve the looks of photos he had taken on his clunky Kodak camera. The Joker project was his grandest undertaking yet. Using a tutorial he’d found online about how to “Jokerize” portraits, he downloaded the October 23 Time Magazine cover of Obama and began digitally painting over it.
Four or five hours later, he happily had his product…
Alkhateeb says he wasn’t actively trying to cover his tracks, but he did want to lay low. He initially had concerns about …
… connecting his name with anything critical of the president — especially living in Chicago, where people are “very, very liberal,” he said.
“After Obama was elected, you had all of these people who basically saw him as the second coming of Christ,” Alkhateeb said. “From my perspective, there wasn’t much substance to him.”
“I abstained from voting in November,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Living in Illinois, my vote means close to nothing as there was no chance Obama would not win the state.” If he had to choose a politician to support, Alkhateeb said, it would be Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich…
Although Alkhateeb claims he was making no political statement with the artwork, he’s plugged into the Washington debate. Though born in the United States, his Palestinian family closely follows Middle Eastern politics.
“I think he’s definitely doing better than Bush was,” Alkhateeb said of Obama. Alkhateeb’s views on foreign relations align with the Democrats, he said, while he prefers Republican ideals on domestic issues.
Alkhateeb’s assessment of Obama: “In terms of domestic policy, I don’t think he’s really doing much good for the country right now,” he said. “We don’t have to ‘hero worship’ the guy.”
Speaking of jokers, have you seen the you tube video circulating of Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) admitting that his vote in Congress will not reflect the concerns of his constituents?
MASSA: I’m not going to vote for 3200 as it’s currently written. Step one, I will vote for a single payer option or a bill that does have a medicare coupled public option, which we don’t have right now. If my town hall meetings turn into the same media frenzies and ridiculousness, because every time that happens we lose. We lose another three million people in America. They see that happening and negate us.
PARTICIPANT: It changes America.
MASSA: Every time that occurs. So what happens in my town hall meetings frankly is important, because I am in one of the most right wing Republican districts in the country, and I’m not asking you guys to go back to wherever and send people to me. This is a generic statement of what can I do? Well that’s one thing we can do.
PARTICIPANT: So if we got your meetings to sixty forty, you’d vote…and there was single payer in a bill you would vote for it?
MASSA: Oh absolutely I would vote for single payer.
PARTICIPANT: If there was sixty forty sentiment in the room?
MASSA: Listen, I tell every audience I’m in favor of single payer.
PARTICIPANT: If there was eighty twenty in the room?
MASSA: If there was a single payer bill?
PARTICIPANT: And there was a single payer….
MASSA: I will vote for the single payer bill.
PARTICIPANT: Even if it meant you were being voted out of office?
MASSA: I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful.
MASSA: I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.
Well isn’t that lovely? This is proof that the current members of congress are there to serve themselves and not the people. At least Massa is being honest about it and I have to respect him for that. Note to New York voters: kick this donkey’s ass out in 2010.
Autographed Letter Signed,