Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
October 31, 2016

On the NY Magazine/Barbara Kruger Trump “Loser” Cover

This photo-illustration by artist Barbara Kruger on the cover of New York Magazine at the close of the 2016 presidential election labels Donald Trump as a loser.

When they go low, we go… lower?  Sorry, but we’ve been through way too much indignity and small-mindedness throughout this slog to end this cheap.

Is it cute pivoting off the anticipated election results to declare the last word on Trump’s character? Sure, but for all its creative license and cultural cache, the poster is still undermined by its meanness.

That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve it. Trump has demonstrated himself  to be an amoral urchin and a sleaze. But to label Trump a loser (by the art star, and the acclaimed label-maker, Barbara Kruger, no less) is going down “the deplorables” path big time. It’s like parading around that proverbial bucket— the one brimming with white working-class citizens who took Trump’s bait because winning (in a society this educated, cultured and in-the-know) is out-of-reach. And that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.

Nearing the end of a general election campaign short on substance and long on acting out, what we need is insight, not schadenfreude. We need to understand how Trump got as far as he did, so in spite of himself. And what we need to dissect is that he is not a loser. He is a symptom.

(photo-illustration: Barbara Kruger. photo: Mark Peterson)

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