Artist who “Jokerized” Obama: College Kid Averse to “Hero Worship”

August 18, 2009

(ChattahBox)— Posters of an altered image of President Obama depicted as the Joker from Batman with the word Socialism emblazoned across the front, first began appearing in Los Angeles and spread across the country, soon to be carried by angry right-wing tea party protesters. No one knew the identity of the author of the disturbing image, until now.

The author has been unmasked, as Firas Alkhateeb, a 20-year-old college student from Chicago, President Obama’s hometown.

Alkhateeb majors in history at the University of Illinois and he didn’t vote in the presidential election in November, because he claims his vote wouldn’t have counted when Obama was a shoo in to win the state.

“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.” Alkhateeb denies making a political statement with his doctored image of President Obama, but he is certainly not an Obama supporter.

“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,” said Alkhateeb, but he believes Obama is doing better than Bush in foreign policy.

Alkhateeb created his, infamous image, by playing around with Photoshop during his winter break. He downloaded a now iconic picture of President Obama, which appeared on the cover of Time magazine and he followed the directions of an online tutorial on how to “Jokerize” photos.

Alkhateeb uploaded the image to the photo-sharing site Flickr on Jan. 18, where it received about two thousand hits, until someone removed the reference to Time Magazine, added the word Socialism to the image and displayed the image throughout LA. After that, his Flickr page exploded to over 20,000 views.

The LA Times found Alkhateeb’s Flickr site last week, with the help from a tip left by a reader. His page also contained an image critical of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, captioned “epic fail.” Flickr has since removed the Joker image due to copyright-infringement concerns and as of Friday, Alkhateeb’s site has been taken down.

Although he was born in the U.S., Alkhateeb’s Palestinian family closely follows Middle Eastern politics. Alkhateeb is keenly interested in politics, as well, saying he would vote for Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, if he had the chance.

Shepard Fairey, the Obama “hope” artist complimented Alkhateeb’s work, but condemned the Socialism caption. Alkhateeb dismisses Fairey’s criticism, believing Fairey is hypocritical, because he once created an image of Bush as a vampire. “That’s kind of speaking with two faces,” said Alkhateeb.

Alkhateeb does admit though, that accusing Obama of being a Socialist is “immature.”

Meanwhile, Alkhateeb sits and waits, hoping that DC Comics and Time Magazine don’t decide to sue him for copyright infringement.



4 Responses to “Artist who “Jokerized” Obama: College Kid Averse to “Hero Worship””

  1. Mary Ellen Theriault on August 18th, 2009 9:26 pm

    So the 1st amendment means nothing. It was ok for people to demonize President Bush, put a target on his photo, with the caption “sniper wanted”………that was funny. Put Obama on a poster as a joker with a caption and the poor guy is hunted down like a dog!
    This country is truly in a scary place………..but hopefully, not for long!
    Yes, Obama, you are a JOKE, and not a funny one AT ALL!

  2. Roderick Haynes on August 19th, 2009 8:34 am

    It’s a good thng Alkhateeb doesn’t live in my neck of the woods (know what I mean)!

  3. Laura B on August 19th, 2009 3:42 pm

    I agree with Mary Ellen. George Bush was demonized from the day he stepped into office. When the very same joker face was put on Bush, where was all the vitriol? Leave the college kid alone, he’s young and may not be aware that there are two sets of rules–one for Democrats and another for Republicans.

  4. limo hire on August 20th, 2009 6:59 am

    oh man !! you looks real hero of the US.

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