Marisa Martin (a pseudonym) begins her Feb. 28 WorldNetDaily column by asking, "Why do dictators always love enormous, ostentatious and self-aggrandizing art?" You know it's not going to go well, because she quickly moves from Lenin, Stalin and Mao to, yes, President Obama:
Which brings me to the current administration and their fondness for huge heads … of Obama.
Last December diplomats with London’s U.S. Embassy were lavished with unusually large portraits of Obama by the famed artist Chuck Close. Described as “tapestries,” the black and white portraits are woven from Polaroid photographs. At 8 feet tall and more than 6 feet wide, the POTUS projects powerfully into the space. It could be considered intimidating, but the attitude is something his diplomats have learned to live with, or perhaps enjoy.
Martin then undermines her own argument by conceding that such large-format portraits are Close's stock in trade, and that Obama "apparently appreciates Close’s work and collects contemporary art." But she quickly got back on her paranoia track by declaring that "There’s an Orwellian element here that can’t be missed":
Perhaps it’s just artistic expression, but the State Department and the president approved it. They had the choice of another more solemn piece by Close, which would have worked at least a little better – in my humble opinion.
There is a marked difference between the giant visage of a movie star and self-portraits of a reigning political personality. Everything changes because of the history and the cultural meaning understood by the public through historic precedent.
The psychology here is: I’m watching you. I’m bigger than you. I’m the alpha dog in this political pack, and I can take your money to make these monuments too.
Massive public art dedicated to non-political luminaries exude none of this implied threat. Celebrities, city fathers or General Custer have no opportunity to control, limit, imprison or execute you.
Cult leaders may apply the Happy Face artifice. Still on a grand scale, here the Leader is benign and compassionate. Scenes of adoring children are common props, reminiscent of Jesus and the little ones. And even Kim Jong-il is always grinning blithely in a field of daisies to derail complaints.
America hasn’t plastered Obama’s face on currency, textbooks or federal buildings … yet. We don’t bow, send him mandatory birthday presents or laud him as “Sun of the Nation,” but that’s the small stuff. They’re merely the outward efflorescence of the darker motives to control thought, loyalty and belief. Big stuff. And that’s where we find ourselves in America now and why the big heads matter.