Beheading the President in Absentia

There were a few occasions during the Obama administration that the President was hung in effigy, and Bush, and Hillary Clinton. So it's not new.

Holding up the severed head instead of hanging him, though, has interesting symbolism in the age of ISIS. But the same sort of thing was said about the tricky symbolism of hanging Obama, as opposed to hanging Bush.

The only thing that's maybe new is that this is not some fringe dude putting up a gallows in his cornfield somewhere, but a celebrity recognizable to most Americans.

UPDATE: Scott Adams has a good account.
I have been telling you since before the inauguration that the country was going to split into two movies on one screen. Some of us are watching a new president do his best to make America great. But half the country is watching a disaster movie in which we unknowingly elected a Hitler-monster to destroy civilization. The Kathy Griffin situation illustrates the two-movie idea perfectly. For Kathy and her associates at the photoshoot, this photo was intentionally provocative, but in a silly way. In their movie, beheading the Hitler-monster is a widely-approved fantasy. Perfectly acceptable. Nothing to see here.

Then they published the photo.

And learned there was another movie on the same screen....

Obviously I support Griffin’s right to produce provocative and sometimes offensive art. That is part of her job. And I also respect her rapid and thorough apology. To feel otherwise about Kathy would make me one of the overly-sensitive folks I have been mocking for years. You don’t get to turn me into that person. But you can go full-snowflake on this topic if you like.

The takeaway here should not be so much about Griffin. The takeaway is that a room full of people involved in the photoshoot did not see this as a huge problem from the start. They were living a different movie. If you judge this situation to be an error of taste, judgement, intelligence, or morality, you are missing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that the country is living two movies at the same time, and Griffin was acting “normal” in one of them.


Eric Blair said...

Oh, it's "Mudflaps" Griffin again. Not called "D-List" for nothing.

Grim said...

Yeah, but that's the Jack Sparrow thing. She may be the worst you've ever heard of, but you have heard of her.

james said...

I remember hearing or reading a year or so ago about partisanship in the House and Senate. The thesis was that the generation that came through WW-II was partisan, but because they'd fought alongside (sometimes almost literally) people across the aisle, there was a strong sense of "we're all in this together."

Of course a generation arose "that knew not Joseph."

The default position in the USA seems to be to ardently cling to your party and savage the others. The default for newspapers has been to be a party organ that praises your guys and shoots down the rest--with truth if available and with lies if those are handier. (That seems to be fairly common elsewhere as well, but I'm American and quite properly pay more attention to things here.) We've had a relatively civil interregnum, but I suspect we are reverting to type.

james said...

I knew if I clicked Publish Your Comment I'd remember the link. Brann (1855-1898) could sling internet-levels of vitriol. You can easily find terrible lies about Lincoln, and on and on farther back.

Grim said...

That's an interesting site, James.

Ms. Griffin has issued a lengthy apology.

Lars Walker said...

The picture figures a hideous head covered in red. There's also a Trump mask in there.

J Melcher said...

"The takeaway is that a room full of people involved in the photoshoot did not see this as a huge problem from the start....If you judge this situation to be an error of taste, judgement, intelligence, or morality, you are missing the bigger picture."

The project 10:10 to promote awareness of global warming filmed a commercial in which authority figures demanded children or subordinates accept "the consensus" or have their heads exploded. They were surprised to discover that anyone could object to such images.

Grim said...

Yeah, I remember that.

It's definitely a different movie playing in their heads.

E Hines said...

Ms. Griffin has issued a lengthy apology.

Like Donald Trump, Jr, noted, Griffin's apology might be believable if she hadn't, during the shoot, joked about the backlash she and her photographer would receive on the picture's publication:

Her apology is nothing but a dishonestly offered square-filler.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Ritual courtesies are not pointless, I think.

jaed said...

... when intended as courtesies.

When offered as a way of evading opprobrium and nothing more, less so, I think.

E Hines said...

Ritual courtesies are not pointless, I think.

This was no ritual courtesy; it only had the form of one. Even rote ritual requires more than the happenstance of form.

Griffin's piece was offered solely as a square-filler, an attempt to reduce the deserved opprobrium and other consequences that are coming her way. Her pocketbook is being hurt, so she pretended to apologize. That's not ritual; that's hypocrisy. That's also abuse of ritual and denigrates it.

Though it's early, she's also done nothing to indicate her behavior has actually changed. For instance, she published a blanket "apology," but she's not apologized personally to Trump, to Melania, to Barron. And yes, Griffin needs no meeting in the Oval office or any other particular venue; she knows full well how to contact Trump and Melania, if not Barron, directly. She could have done much that before her form-generic false apology. She could have done that much since.

She's done nothing.

Eric Hines

douglas said...

I agree, apologizing to us, but not to the person you've most offended rings false.

I think Adams' read on this is mostly correct, but doesn't get to the point- that we're not watching movies- we're living life in the same world, and that means one of us is watching a lie, or at least a false image. That they could be so blind to not see the reception this would get suggests it's their view that's false. But I suspect no one will be jolted from their well constructed cocoons by this.

But to believe this, it helps to believe there is such a thing as truth.

Grim said...

...we're living life in the same world, and that means one of us is watching a lie, or at least a false image.

At least one of us.

douglas said...

Heh. Philosophy strikes again.

Matters of degree then.