20 May 2009

Juxtaposition

You may recall my earlier posts about faux motivational posters, and how part of my fascination with them is my usual overthinking about what makes a good one. Like a four-panel comic strip, you have very few moving parts, so they all have to reïnforce one another perfectly and efficiently: you need a joke in the relationship between the illustration and the big one- or two-word caption, and you need another joke in the sub-caption.

It's tempting to say that some kind of reference to outside information is required to fit a good joke into such a constrained format, which is why the examples I pointed to are geeky inside jokes. It certainly helps, but of course you can do completely self-contained picture-and-caption jokes, as lolcats, Far Side cartoons, and cheeky photo captions in the Economist demonstrate.

I bring all this up because I've recently discovered ObamaIcon.me, a clever little tool that helps you turn an ordinary picture into an image in the style of Shephard Fairey's famous “Hope” poster of Barack Obama.

The site lets you see other folks' poster designs, and many of them are very funny. It's a very constrained medium: you get one image—almost invariably someone's face—and a word of caption. Two words is pushing it. This turns out to pretty much require that you do an inside joke of some kind. Here are my favourites, listed by what you need to know to get 'em:

the best, but either you get it or you don't
high culture
politics
popkultur
popkultur
popkultur
The Wire
American lit
popkultur
TV
YouTube (which if you don't get it, merits an explanation)
popkultur
TV
TV
geekkultur
geekkultur
geekkultur
geekkultur
geekkultur
geekkultur
geekkultur (if you don't recognize this one I gotta provide an explanation)

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