Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kim Jong Il's Fashion Makeover

Newsweek apparently had 5 fashion gurus give Kim Jong Il a makeover. There's a slideshow of the pictures. For all that I don't care for Kim Jong Il, I found it offensive that they would treat the leader of a country that way. The Austin Powers one was especially ridiculous.

But you guys check it out and tell me what you think...

4 comments:

Sean said...

I disagree on whether the article is offensive. Newsweek is basically a source of infotainment that regularly runs articles on Anna Nichole Smith, American Idol, etc. Also, it would be one thing if the caricatures were racially offensive, but they're not. It's basically a ridiculous piece on a ridiculous individual. I don't think that it's going to hurt US-North Korea relations like a couple of the readers suggest.

Will Buck said...

While I absolutley agree with the premise that it is important to take North Korea seriously, the one where Kim is wearing the t-shirt "I got bombed in Pyongyang" with a graphic of a bottle of booze underneath, with a nuke in his pants, is pretty clever, and dare I say, funny.

That aside, I think Americans are far too quick to label leaders like Kim as "irrational" and depict them in such a fashion as Newsweek has done...no pun intended...when they disagree with or defy U.S. policy. I think Ahmadinejad gets similar treatment as some cartoonish lunatic. The danger here is that such views of these people can often lead to serious strategic miscalculations and poor policy decisions. It's important to draw the line b/w "getting bombed in Pyongyang" and actually getting bombed in Pyongyang.

Erin Robinson said...

On one hand, I completely agree that we must take Kim (and, I'm with Will on this, Ahmadinejad, and maybe even Hugo Chavez, though he's not as well known or as nuclear as the other two) seriously. I admit that the "makeovers" disturbed me in terms of what it means about public opinion and Mr. Kim.

The other side is... I believe things like this are an inevitable side effect of American society. I think it is possible that this is a way of dealing with something that most people really are afraid of. To mock it and ridicule it, makes it seem less threatening. To take Mr. Kim seriously is a much more frightening prospect, one that means we take his nuclear weapons seriously. Right now Mr. Kim inhabits that place where he's enough of a threat that the American public is uncomfortable, but not enough of a threat that we are forced to take him seriously, as, say, Bin Laden.

We mock what we are afraid of and do not understand, so in that sense, I think this is simply a sign of what is in the American public consciousness now. The only way to avoid displays like this would be to educate people about North Korea.

Jaime said...

Although these particuluar images may not be racially offensive per se, I do find that the actions of dressing up and making over and the general comic treatment of Kim Jong-Il (and, as Will mentioned, Ahmadinejad) flirts with Orientalist notions, wherein Asians are demonized and rendered effeminate. This has me wondering if any Western or white leaders are parodied in ways that could be viewed as childlike or figres to be manipulated? Feel free to prove me wrong if there's a site to design costumes for Cheney.