Photo-illustration: Barbara Kruger. Photo: Mark Peterson

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

Must the election cycle end this cheap?

by Michael Shaw

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.

Originally published at Reading The Pictures, the only site dedicated to the daily review of news and documentary photography. Sign up for the Reading The Pictures Week in Re-View email. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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