Yesterday I learned that a friend of ours does not like the Life is Good brand. Now, we are all about Life is Good around here. Not only do we own several t-shirts each, but we frequently give them as gifts, and we own plenty of other Life merch as well. For those who may not be familiar, the signature LiG character is Jake, a jaunty little stick figure who really knows how to live. Jake is drawn with a black body and white face. It's not too much of a stretch to connect Jake to images of minstrel show actors in white face, and that offends our friend, who happens to be African American. I'm not sure if it offends me too, but my consciousness is raised.
Which is why I had to scratch my head this morning, reading a lengthy piece in the Washington Post about some posters of President Obama that have been turning up in LA. In them, he's got on the smeary facial make-up that Heath Ledger wore as the Joker in The Dark Knight with the caption of "socialism" beneath. The writer of the article made a rather far-fetched argument about the underlying racism of the image. He went way around the barn to connect the urban anarchy in Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker to a mainstream subconscious association of such anarchy and violence with African American people. I guess the depiction of the president as a psychotic comic-book villain, not to mention a black man in white face, just isn't offensive enough?