For this next-to-the-last outing of this very disappointing year of 2009, let us turn to the disappointment engendered by that sterling idol of millions, Tiger Woods, turning out to be a mere human after all. Tiger, otherwise known as Mr. Clean, seems to have had a veritable stable of mistresses and when Mrs. Woods found out about one of them, she took one of his irons and started to take some practice swings at his head. Fortunately for Tiger, there was a car windshield between them. Since then, hardly a day has gone past without yet another mistress emerging from the woodwork. The first few all seemed to be cookie cutter blondes, like his wife, which I was tempted to lampoon, but since then, we’ve found mistresses of many more flavors and now I understand there are plans underway for a new reality TV show, “The Real Paramours of Tiger Woods.”
Now frankly, if I were a young, pretty, superstar athlete, I’d probably be tapping as many kegs as I could fit into the PGA tour schedule, but then again, I’d probably have a sleazier image than Tiger Woods to begin with. But there are two problems with Tiger doing it–first of all, he IS married–with a child to an extraordinarily beautiful woman, who deserves a little more than sloppy seconds. And then there is that image of perfection that he displays–the aura of good sportsmanship, unflappability, moral upstandingness–Mr. Clean. In some way, it really negates that image to be a serial adulterer with enough girlfriends to fill an entire TV season. Now, I suspect most of his fans are highly titillated by these circumstances, but some are mighty disappointed. Particularly those fans who pay him large sums of money for product endorsements. Now you could say, “why are you disappointed–he’s just a man, after all. It’s your fault if you can’t accept that.” But I would counter that he’s a man who worked very hard to project the image of rectitude than is now crashing in flames around him. In other words, if his fans had unreal expectations of him, Tiger himself was responsible for it to a large degree because that was the kind of image that he wanted.
Which brings me to another person who has been disappointing his legions of fans, though not through any actions worthy of the tabloids. I’m referring to the Great Mocha Hope himself, President Obama. Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Obama pushed the idea that we could change the direction our country was going in through the mismanagement of Bush, Cheney, & Co.. He offered us hope that we could make the country a better place with the rallying cry of “Yes we can.” But after almost a full year in office, those hopes have turned to disappointment for many. In some ways, yes, change has taken place, but in so many others, we seem to be continuing the policies of the prior eight years, and in other ways, real accomplishments have been compromised further and further away and the status quo has been cemented more solidly in place. Now, many apologists have said, “What are you disappointed about? Obama has never been a progressive, he’s always been a centrist. He’s not doing anything that he didn’t say he was going to do.” And to this I say, BULL! According to the My readers will be happy to learn that I am finally on the mend–and none too soon considering how fast Christmas will be upon us. And I’ve got shopping to do! As I announced last week, Thursday’s cartoon will be my last of the year, and we’ll pick up again on January 11 and believe me, the break will be much appreciated!National Journal, Obama was the 16th most liberal senator in 2005, the 10th most liberal in 2006 and in 2007, he was the MOST liberal senator. That’s not exactly what I’d call centrism. That’s what I’d call a trend to more and more liberal as we got closer and closer to the 2008 election. And when you speak so much about change and hope in the wake of a disastrous rightwing administration, a mere return to the center could not possibly negate any of the excesses that had been committed–the pendulum has to swing in the other direction to correct the injustices, not just merely stop them. Just as Tiger Woods worked hard to burnish his image of perfection, Obama and his team worked hard to present him AS the liberal/progressive choice. And it is disingenuous at best to claim now that all that had been promised was a return to the center.
AN INTERVIEW WITH D. LeTANTE, DESIGNER OF THE MONA LISA
I recently had the opportunity of visiting the studio of M. D. LeTante, the celebrated graphics artist and music sampler. While I was there, he unveiled for me his latest work, The Mona Lisa, a poster of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa in situ at the Louvre, in a limited graphics palette, underlined in big letters with the word, “REPRODUCE.” I took the opportunity of interviewing him for this journal.
The Mona Lisa is your boldest work yet.
May I ask if the word “Reproduce” is a reference to the copy of the Mona Lisa in your work?
Oh heavens no–in the first place, this is not a copy of the Mona Lisa–that would take HOURS–no, this is a photograph I took when I was in Paris for my senior year of high school.
I didn’t think they allowed photographs.
No, they kicked me out (laughs).
You worked from a photograph, then?
Yes, I scanned it into Photoshop and posterized it and smoothed it. With the addition of the word REPRODUCE it took less than 10 minutes. I never do anything that takes longer because I want to maintain the spontaneity of creation.
I understand, nothing kills spontaneity like disciplined concentration.
Yes, discipline kills inspiration. But to go on with your question: nor is it a copy in an artistic or philosophical sense. My poster is more of a re-contextulization and re-conceptualization of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Have you ever read Borges’ Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote? Pierre Menard has decided to write Cervantes’ Don Quixote. He buries himself in studying Cervantes’ sources and his period so that he can compose the Quixote, matching Cervantes’ work word for word. It is an amazing work, so much richer than the original. Cervantes’ work was superficial, grounded in his own time, but Menard’s had so much more depth because it was written in the 20th century. Similarly, my version of the Mona Lisa is grounded in the 21st century, looking back at the Renaissance. It makes a completely different statement in a Foucaultian context. One is forced to ask, what is this woman smiling at? And why is she smiling at all, while we are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the world is being destroyed by global warming?
Then what is the meaning of the word REPRODUCE?
Exactly what it says–a command to be fruitful and multiply so we may satisfy the maw of our corporate overlords, like the humans in John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE satisfied the needs of the aliens who ruled the world. I’m thinking of doing a series on the concept.
Oh? What would you call it?
I think, “REPRODUCTIONS”.
Shepard Fairey was impressed with THEY LIVE as well–he did a series of works on the command OBEY as used in the movie.
Yes, we used to skateboard together. As a matter of fact, he’s the reason I decided to concentrate on re-sampling public domain works…that bad business with the Obama HOPE poster. But Shepard was always a bit lax about attributions and things like that.
Yes. As a friend of Shepard Fairey, do you have any insights into that?
I think so. I have no doubt that Shepard was using the larger photo of Obama with George Clooney. After all, taking only a portion of that photograph would put him well within the restrictions of fair use. When he cropped it, like Pierre Menard and the Quixote, he managed to reproduce the precise cropping that AP used to release a second version of that photograph. Naturally, when he found that other photograph on his hard drive, he realized that in this cynical world, no one would believe that he independently made the same judgement as some anonymous AP editor, so he had no choice but to erase it from his computer.
He did say that he lied and deliberately destroyed the evidence by erasing it.
See what I mean? He had to confess since no one would believe otherwise.
But you do agree that AP is behaving like a stultifying corporate giant in insisting on its intellectual property? After all, the photographer said he couldn’t imagine anything better than his photograph being used to help Obama’s election.
Oh, of course! But I do have a little quibble from the point of view of an artist. Supposing someone comes along and sees my masterpiece, The Mona Lisa. What’s to stop him from appropriating it and using it in his own artwork. That is so inappropriate. I mean, what are MY rights with regard to my own work? Mannie Garcia can be noble because his work was used in a noble cause, but I’m planning on selling my limited edition on eBay at 500 dollars a print. I need to have that protected. Shep would agree–look how he jumps on people who copy HIS work.