Kathy Shaidle

Media Matters laughs off White House ‘Mao’ ornaments as harmless ‘pop culture’ (you rubes!)

Posted on December 28 2009 12:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."
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Oh, pu-leeeeze! Lighten up, you ignorant hicks!

When Media Matters warned readers on Christmas Eve that “posting will be light for the next week and a half,” who knew they meant both quality and quantity.

Apparently at a loss for something important to write about — and we all know what a slow news week it’s been — today Media Matters’ Eric “the Excitable” Boehlert posts another vapid, hysterical squib, this one entitled “Surprise! Breitbart’s Big Government doesn’t understand pop culture”.

Well, that certainly would be a surprise, since Big Government/Big Hollywood founder Andrew Breitbart lives in Tinseltown, and his site boasts contributors like Saturday Night Live alum Victoria Jackson, film critic Burt Prelutsky, Emmy winning actor Michael Moriarty and numerous working screenwriters and musicians based in California and New York.

As opposed to, say, Eric Boehlert, who types about Beltway goings-on from an office in DC’s Chinatown. Like today, where he writes:

A random White House Christmas tree ornament, of unknown origin, featured a world famous image of Mao as interpreted by Andy Warhol. But because Breitbart and his bloggers are so clueless about pop culture and art (they seem to have no idea what Warhol’s “Mao” is), they wrote up a blog post in which they proudly advertised their ignorance.

A few things: first, I’m guessing a number of Breitbart’s friends and colleagues own genuine Warhols, and that Eric does not.

Next: the ornament is hardly of “unknown origin;” the White House Christmas tree was decorated by “controversial designer Simon Doonan.” The creative director of Barney’s New York “has often caused a stir with his design choices. Like his naughty yuletide window display of Margaret Thatcher as a dowdy dominatrix and Dan Quayle as a ventriloquist’s dummy.”

Third — why does invoking “Andy Warhol” automatically confer canonical status to any object? Warhol may still be important to pretentious, big city, college town types, but so what? The alleged magic wand of the man’s name loses its power in “flyover country” — and Obama is supposed to represent the entire nation, not just its hipster Easterly and Westerly crusts.

Fourth — forget Warhol: aren’t the lefties at Media Matters the ones “advertising their ignorance” about who Mao was (i.e. a mass murder millions of times over?)

Apparently not. The irony deficient Eric approvingly quotes a writer for the Los Angeles Times, who patiently explains to us plebes that:

Warhol’s parody transformed the leader of the world’s most populous nation into a vapid superstar — the most famous of the famous. The portrait photo from Mao’s Little Red Book is tarted up with lipstick, eye-shadow and other Marilyn Monroe-style flourishes.

You see, it’s all so po-mo, you idiots don’t get it.

However, I can think of a few other equally iconic illustrations, created specifically to “play with” and “explore” and “parody” received wisdom, in a “shock the bourgeousie” manner. How about the infamous cover of Hustler, created to mock feminist critiques that pornographer Larry Fynt was treating women as “pieces of meat”? The cover in question features a drawing of a woman being fed head first into a meat grinder. Get it?

Is Media Matters implying it would be ok for a White House ornament to feature that Hustler cover?

Just because something is hip and ironic, doesn’t make it an acceptable adornment for the White House Christmas tree. In fact, I’d argue that that very fact should rule out such an ornament. Shouldn’t Christmas ornaments in “the people’s house” have something to do with — call me crazy — Christmas, rather than serve as a chance to display its inhabitant’s elitist hipster cred?

Especially in a White House that up until recently employed an admitted admirer of mass murderer Mao?

The phrase “tone deaf” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Finally: isn’t this the same Media Matters that devoted considerable time to denouncing some conservatives’ embrace of that satirical, and uncomplimentary, “Obama Joker” poster?

Hey, isn’t that poster and its many iterations showing Obama “tarted up with lipstick and eyeshadow” like a “vapid superstar” simply a cool, winking po-mo commentary on the power of “image” and “celebrity” blah blah blah?

Oh wait, I forgot: when they do it, it’s different.

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