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Chairman Mao and Barack Obama = Barack Obamao and the Cult of Personality

Activism > Politics

Summary. There’s a movement on the Internet that involves making comparisons between the political career of Barack Obama and Chairman Mao Zedong (Tse-Tung).

Both are charismatic leaders who didn’t just win the support of the people, but created a movement that was founded on basic idealistic principles.

Below are some images from China that have been updated to portray the image of Barack Obama instead of Chairman Mao.

Pictured to the right is 1950s Chinese propaganda poster showing a happy family of five enjoying life under the image of Mao Zedong. The caption above the picture reads “The happy life Chairman Mao gives us.”

Some people were referring to Barack Obama as a messianic figure prior to his election. The hope was that his progressive and hopeful optimism would help transform business as usual in Washington D.C. and hopefully bring about positive change in the United States.

Below is an image of the same propaganda poster, with Barack Obama’s image on the wall.

Below are other manifestations of this phenomenon.

Cult of Personality. One similarity between Obama and Mao is their magnetic personality and how they managed to generate a following that might be considered a cult of personality phenomenon.

“A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships. The sociologist Max Weber developed a tripartite classification of authority; the cult of personality holds parallels with what Weber defined as ‘charismatic authority’. A cult of personality is similar to hero worship, except that it is established by mass media and propaganda. However, the term may be applied by analogy to refer to adulation of religious or non-political leaders.” [source]

Personal Jesus. Perhaps one of the most powerful presentations of the cult of personality phenomenon regarding Obama is a YouTube video (below) that provides a compilation of campaign images showing idillic and worshipful portrayal of Barack Obama. The music soundtrack to the music video slideshow is the song Personal Jesus performed by Marilyn Manson. Some have found the insinuations of this video offensive.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com