A bizarre assessment of things like “Your Land,” ultimately arguing that such efforts are making the Internet more like a TV than a communications medium. Somehow, I think the writer misses the point. Point, Click and Mock on the Wild, Wild Web
Beyond the tangle of political blogs, you will find on the Internet assorted bits of political animation. One kind in particular has been gaining ground since Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a mutant form born of the marriage of video games and Dada photomontage. Shortly after the terrorist attacks, an animated cartoon of Osama bin Laden, called “Nowhere to Run” and set to the tune of “The Banana Boat Song,” appeared on the Internet, circulating widely for months in e-mail messages.
[…] Now that the election is looming, the online whipping boy isn’t Mr. Hussein and it isn’t Mr. bin Laden. It is George W. Bush. (Some sites mock John Kerry, but not many.) The substitution is shocking.
[…] So what does it mean when the same sort of animation is used regardless of whether the target is Mr. bin Laden, Mr. Hussein, Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry? It means that it doesn’t matter.
The point is that you can punish someone famous to your heart’s content. It is equal opportunity venting. Then there’s the question of the punishment itself. The key is repetition. It doesn’t matter whether the punishment is spanking, shooting or bombing. The point is to do it and do it again. It is punishment as slapstick. Repetition is always funny. Repetition is always funny.
Photomontage has been used before as a political weapon. In the 1930’s and 40’s, the German Dada artist John Heartfield skewered Hitler by pasting his face into various unseemly settings. His cartoon of Hitler as a chimp pounding the globe with a sword is captioned, “And yet it moves.” Another montage, “The Meaning of the Hitler Salute,” shows Hitler’s raised hand taking a wad of cash from a rich man behind him.
Today’s Web-mations have none of this political commitment. They may lead you to opinion polls (one site asks how you feel about prayer in schools) or to voter registration drives, but there is really just one imperative that they all share: They all order you to forward the animation site to your friends, or else! The point isn’t so much politics but rather, as in video games, racking up points. The deformed child born of the cutting humor of photomontage and the flippancy of video games is growing up. And that child is looking more and more like its video mother and less and less like Dada.