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News :: Education
The birdbrain in the whitehouse
20 Jan 2006

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Bad PhotoShop artwork: an academic appreciation
20 Jan 2006

While I don't recall Bush publicly declaring "BEND & SPREAD 'EM Boys" or, literally, "SCREW the Constitution" I'm probably just being too literal. Instead, I need to appreciate the multiplicities of meaning within the piece. And although I don't know exactly how someone pronouncing a whole row of exclamation points would sound, I do imagine it would sound impressive, which is fitting given that the subject is the President of the United States. Perhaps the artist is trying to convey something beyond words and yet not beyond symbols?

The saavy art critic and collector of "bad" or "outsider" photography will discern that this piece is portraying Bush as a parrot literally (his beak a slight touch of white that might just be cocaine residue) and also figuratively as one of those "green parrots" Howard Zinn was just talking about on this site. This Bush parrot/green parrot bomb is alluring to the foolish, the young, like a toy, but also deadly-- deadly not only in the form of an explosion it creates but also via avian flu, which would make sense given that Bush is unarguable "sick" in many ways. As he says, "WHERES [sic] MY PILLS??!!!" He is looking for a remedy to an untreatable condition, the Postmodern condition, which is a nearly unbearable but inescapable reality.

Aren't we all doing just that, in our own ways? To paraphrase musician William Corgan, "Despite all my rage, I am still just a parrot in a cage."

The thick pixelization around the head is clearly a commentary on the digitalization of contemporary American life, specifically digital spying technology. Even Bush himself, we see, is not immune to its detrimental, identity-fragmenting effects. He is plagued by a white aura around his head that simply will not leave-- alienating him from the background, his surroundings( in other words), and thereby pushing him into further moments of pique as well as surprisingly honest, direct commentary. Perhaps, then, there is truth in his rage, after all? The butt of this clever visual joke gets the last laugh?

Genius! Bravo, Gallagher, bravo!