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remembering ronald reagan

for many gay people around the world, the recently deceased ronald reagan became a symbol of conservative hate, denial, and intolerance. under his administration, more people died of AIDS than during any other,* simply because he refused for six years to publicly acknowledge the disease even existed.

ironically, if ronald reagan had voiced any sort of concern earlier, we would have missed out on one of the most powerful examples of activist design from the late twentieth century.

reagan’s administration was home to some of the loudest, angriest political art the country had seen in twenty years. his inaction fueled several AIDS- and gay-related units to coalesce, most visibly ACT UP. ACT UP was a grass-roots group formed to protest and cause change against governmental inaction in regard to the AIDS epidemic. its art was loud, angry, and unashamedly homo. this link timelines a lot of that work and several other artists active during that period. the art and design it produced was unique in that it didn’t take inspiration from the folksy appearance of previous grassroots activism efforts from the 60’s or 70’s. instead, its visuals were fueled by a highly organized media-savvy membership raised on soundbite messaging.

ACT UP’s best-known visual is its SILENCE=DEATH graphic, white typography on a black background and a pink triangle appropriated from the symbol used to tag gay jews in nazi concentration camps. the graphic was reportedly designed anonymously.

ACT UP’s visuals also utilized several works from artists keith haring and barbara kruger. and while ACT UP can’t be credited with defining the entire visual vocabulary for the gay rights movement, the visibility of its work made a depth-charge impact on gay citizens. it united us under a rudimentary visual rhetoric consisting of the rainbow and pink triangle (which got swept up along ACT UP’s own visuals, and is now badly in need of rejuvenation, if this link is any indication), and it’s spawned oodles of cantankerous, bitchy, uproariously funny work.

mr. reagan? thanks for being such a jackass. without your lousy attitude, we would be culturally poorer.

*ACT UP’s published numbers indicate 41,027 dead and 71,176 diagnosed by the time reagan first used the word AIDS publicly in 1987.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 1976 FILED UNDER Design Academics
PUBLISHED ON Jun.07.2004 BY Patric King
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Kyle’s comment is:

"mr. reagan? thanks for being such a jackass. without your lousy attitude, we would be culturally poorer."

This was tastefull until this.

Have a little fucking respect.

On Jun.07.2004 at 01:46 AM
pk’s comment is:

Have a little fucking respect.

for reagan? won't happen.

for ACT UP and the people they stand for? the statement was sarcastic. i do respect them.

however, i would much rather a world where an organization like ACT UP is unnecessary. the irony of that would be that we never would have been privy to so much amazing work.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:46 AM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

pk, I'm 110% behind you on this one. Jackass is far too kind a word in my opinion. and hey we should all be allowed to have opinions here.

Props to all the ACT UPs and Gran Furies of the world.

"a little fucking respect." I love it.

On Jun.07.2004 at 05:39 AM
patricia’s comment is:

I realize that we are supposed to respectful after a president dies, but quite frankly it boggles my mind the way the media white washes presidents like Reagan and Nixon after they have passed this mortal coil. We should be up front and honest about everything these presidents were responsible for, regardless of whether they are dead or alive. Great discussion, by the way.

On Jun.07.2004 at 08:31 AM
Rob’s comment is:

Sorry guys, while I can appreciate your opinion and agree with your portrayal of former President Reagan's inaction and inept handling of the AIDS issue you cannot judge the man by just one aspect of his work, which like design is subjective.

For all the screwed up on this issue he also did much that will be honored including overseeing the end of the Cold War and the tearing down of the 'Wall' which if anything opened up the entire world to the design of Eastern Germany. And certainly the end of Communist rule in the former USSR and other Eastern bloc countries had its own impact on the world of design and some of that has to be credited to Reagan.

While no man or woman is perfect, to refer to the former President who has just passed as a jackass, despite your anger and outrage at his inadequacies on the AIDS issue, is in poor taste in my opinion. The man is dead and calling him that really seems meaningless and spiteful.

Having said that, I guees it's is a good thing that Reagan helped bring on the end of Communism and kept going the so imperfect system of democracy that guarantees all of our rights to free speech in all its forms.

On Jun.07.2004 at 08:45 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

All presidents are Jackasses. Well, maybe not Lincoln. But the rest certainly are. Some just more so than others. ;o)

I had no idea the pink triangle was an appropriated nazi symbol. Victory through appropriation!

On Jun.07.2004 at 08:46 AM
franko’s comment is:

thank you for this article. it's been a great antidote to the virtual canonizing i've been seeing in the print and tv media. that being said, i guess i've got to credit him and his administration for firing me up enough to come out. so thank you, gipper, from the bottom of my faggy graphic designer heart. i will always carry a bitterness towards you for all my friends who died while you kept silent, but i can't imagine what my life would be like if you hadn't pissed me off enough to take a chance and open my closet door way back then. ps - love this site. long time reader, etc.

On Jun.07.2004 at 08:53 AM
Justin’s comment is:

I'd like to quote Juan Cole to sum up my feelings on reagan:

But yesterday is now history, and Reagan's legacy should not pass without comment....

He said that he had heard that some asserted there was hunger in America. He said it sarcastically. He said, "Sure there is; they're dieting!" or words to that effect. This handsome Hollywood millionnaire making fun of people so poor they sometimes went to bed hungry seemed to me monstrous. I remember his wealthy audience of suburbanites going wild with laughter and applause. I am still not entirely sure what was going on there. Did they think Harrington's and similar studies were lies? Did they blame the poor for being poor, and resent demands on them in the form of a few tax dollars, to address their hunger?

And now we have a president who is trying oh so hardly to emulate that legacy.

http://www.juancole.com/2004_06_01_juancole_archive.html#108654049412748319

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:26 AM
TJ’s comment is:

awful.

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:26 AM
pk’s comment is:

i have to say, my primary motivation in making the post was that i'm fairly irate at all the whitewashing the media's doing lately of reagan's work. he did do some good things, true, but he also did a lot of evil...just like everyone else.

i was taught when i was a child specifically to not deify the dead; my family taught me that was the worst possible way to remember someone. the truest form of memory is the truth. reagan was no saint, he did not save the country. in fact, i'd be willing to argue that he willingly allowed the deaths of several thousand of my own people.

is the post biased? absolutely. i came out of the closet in the reagan years, when i was too young to understand the connection between all those dying and AIDS. all i knew was that since i was gay, that my own death would be premature. didn't know why, just knew i was going to be past tense really soon. wasn't a great legacy for a president to leave.

i realized halfway through this that june is gay and lesbian pride month in the u.s. so...happy rainbow flag and all that.

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:41 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

i was taught when i was a child specifically to not deify the dead

But that's so unAmerican! We prefer to polish our past so it's nice and shiny and nostalgic and innocuous.

;o)

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:48 AM
Brady’s comment is:

PK

The proverbial soapbox from which you speak is one driven by your deep-seeded emotion and intimacy with the subject. Fueled by passion and supported by facts and artifacts, your presentation is one to be reckoned with. I commend you on that.

Unfortunately, you, as I myself sometimes fall into, let one statement tarnish the best retort to the canonizing we have witnessed this weekend.

Respect is not the issue here, Patrick. It is your right opinion that he was a jackass for ignoring AIDS and I think you showed that with the grace, intelligence and understanding that Reagan lacked on the subject, until you let your emotions get the better of you.

My point is that we live in a world where the impassioned voices are discredited for what may be a single error in presentation - no matter how right they may be.

Case in point: you have us talking more about your last statement, rather than the incredibly persuasive paragraphs that came before.

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:48 AM
pk’s comment is:

My point is that we live in a world where the impassioned voices are discredited for what may be a single error in presentation - no matter how right they may be.

point taken, and thank you. i don't know if i would change that statement or not, though.

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:56 AM
marian’s comment is:

It's interesting how much good art comes out of times of repression, all around the world. Graphic Design is, of course, one of the key elements of protest so it's natural that we should see it blossom when it's needed.

Kindof a conundrum, that. No one would argue that the art is worth the loss of lives, and yet if everything were smooth, happy and rich all the time we'd probably enter an age of artistic stagnation. Nothing much to say, no particular drive to say it.

So yeah, here's to the the people who motivate us to say something meaningful, and give it everything we've got.

I'm with you, pk, on all of it.

On Jun.07.2004 at 10:20 AM
Brady’s comment is:

> point taken, and thank you.

No, thank you for taking on such a sensitive and complex subject from an such intriguing angle.

> i don't know if i would change that statement or not, though.

The beauty about opinions is that no matter how many agree with you, the way you express it is what makes it yours and yours alone.

On Jun.07.2004 at 10:24 AM
schmitty’s comment is:

I had to chuckle at the closing lines of this article for it's frankness.

Perhaps we need to separate the man from the president.

None of us knew Reagan as a person did we? So let's not forget that he was someone's husband, father, friend and have some respect for those parts of his life and for his loved one's loss, I was sad to hear that he died.

As for the President, I could go on and on about how I didn't like the "Reagan Years". I think the simplest way to sum up his effect on the world is:

Reagan=Bush=Bush (Dole, Gingrich, Robertson... add any other "Christian" homophobes that I missed.)

Personally, while some great history making events (fall of USSR and Berlin Wall) happened during Reagan's presidency, I don't feel that he should be given credit for them.

I think he "got lucky" and the lifecycle of the political ideaology behind the USSR died naturally. It had much more to do with years of corruption, greed and mismanagement rather than anything Reagan did.

On Jun.07.2004 at 10:37 AM
Rick’s comment is:

Graphic Design is, of course, one of the key elements of protest so it's natural that we should see it blossom when it's needed.

As I was a young suburban punk during the Regan years, all of my youthful ire was aimed squarely at that Jellybean eating, "We've just bombed Russia"-joking, cut-rate John Wayne.

I think it's interesting that hardcore punk, which is an overdesigned subculture if there ever was one, really flourished during the Regan years. Just look at the work of Raymond Pettibon, or the amazing stuff that was coming out of DC during those dark years.

Good point, Marian.

On Jun.07.2004 at 10:50 AM
Tan’s comment is:

I was too young to vote for Carter, so I don't really lament Reagan's death or his legacy. I keep wondering what Carter, whom I believe to be our greatest living statesman, would have done given a second term.

But Reagan's been out of office for 16 years. And now he's dead. Isn't it time we moved on?

There's definite reasons for the existence of ACT UP and its continuation. But IMHO, that has to do more with this country's Moral Majority/Christian/Mormon right-wing legacy/homophobia, than any lasting legacy of Reagan's.

If you want to be angry at something, be angry at what can still be changed.

For the record, I think Bush Jr. has been worse. And come next Spring, when Kerry is in the White House — the last thing I want to do is talk about the man and the stupid shit he did while in office.

On Jun.07.2004 at 12:09 PM
KM’s comment is:

add any other "Christian" homophobes that I missed.)

And why Christian in quotations?

On Jun.07.2004 at 12:15 PM
Su’s comment is:

Because when you get down to it, KM, many Christians aren't very.

On Jun.07.2004 at 12:25 PM
KM’s comment is:

Su - aren't very homophobic? I'm sorry, I'm just wondering why these discussions always end up pointing to a, obviously pigeonholed, group of individuals based on the actions of a few.

On Jun.07.2004 at 12:34 PM
Su’s comment is:

No, not very Christian. But this isn't a religious discussion.

And before we get there, nobody's pigeonholing Christians. Schmitty pointed directly at the few, not the group. The quotes, for that matter, question their inclusion.

On Jun.07.2004 at 12:39 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Sorry, I want to clarify my earlier statement.

I don't think there's anything wrong w/ being a Christian or Mormon. My wife is Catholic, and we have Mormon friends.

I just have a problem w/ people who justify their homophobia with their religion, regardless of whatever faith it may be.

Boy, this thread has a volatility potential that's off the charts. Gettin off before I burn myself.

On Jun.07.2004 at 12:42 PM
tim’s comment is:

There's definite reasons for the existence of ACT UP and its continuation. But IMHO, that has to do more with this country's Moral Majority/Christian/Mormon right-wing legacy/homophobia, than any lasting legacy of Reagan's.

The point is, those groups are part of his legacy. He gave those groups a political focus through which they could work their agendas, and in turn he helped legitimize them on the national political scene.

For my part, I remember more the heating of the Cold War, and the daily dread of living under the spectre of MAD.

Graphic Design is, of course, one of the key elements of protest so it's natural that we should see it blossom when it's needed. I don't mean to be sarcastic, but is it blossoming now? At least, in the way PK points out with his links? Seems to me it is, as long as there's a client willing to pay.

Thanks, pk, for the honesty of your piece.

On Jun.07.2004 at 01:18 PM
Christopher Johnston’s comment is:

There goes my SpeakUp bookmark. I met some great people here with wonderful talents but this is twenty miles to far for me. To insult a deadman after 10 years of suffering at the hands of Alzheimers. Even if you disagree with him politically (which I did on some levels as well)...

At the end of the day:

People are still allowed to be free and homosexual in our great country because of that man's (and millions of others in our history) "lousy" attitude.

Nice one.

On Jun.07.2004 at 01:41 PM
Jerel’s comment is:

The Silence = Death campaign and the other interventions of ACT UP and those inspired by them helped break the paralysis of apathy on the part of some and a politically driven push for a return to the closet, the coffin, on the part of others.

It was graphic design and art yolked to action. Despite the great sadness of the context, it continues to inspire.

Thanks for the post.

(ps. the link to the actupny.org needs a little TLC).

On Jun.07.2004 at 01:41 PM
Levi’s comment is:

Regan was before my time so he didn't have the huge impact on my life that he did on people ten years older but I do think it's pretty come out and call anyone a jackass on the occasion of their . I didn't love Clinton but I don't plan on hurling insults at him when he dies. It seems mean spirited.

And no matter what you say about The Gripper he did seem to have an overall positive affect on the world. We don't have nukes pointed at us anymore, that's a plus.

On Jun.07.2004 at 01:43 PM
chris’s comment is:

Source

"Actually, as official White House papers cited by Steven Hayward, author of the multi-volume Age of Reagan show, the 40th president spoke of AIDS no later than September 17, 1985."

He also had the following to say at his state of the union address in 1986:

"We will continue, as a high priority, the fight against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). An unprecedented research effort is underway to deal with this major epidemic public health threat. The number of AIDS cases is expected to increase. While there are hopes for drugs and vaccines against AIDS, none is immediately at hand. Consequently, efforts should focus on prevention, to inform and to lower risks of further transmission of the AIDS virus. To this end, I am asking the Surgeon General to prepare a report to the American people on AIDS."

The following is the budget allocation for aids research under Reagan:

1982 8 mil

1983 44 mil

1984 103 mil

1985 205 mil

1986 508 mil

1987 922 mil

1988 1,615 mil (that's over a billion for you simple folk)

1989 2,322

If you're going to piss on his grave check the facts first and doen't just believe the propoganda you have been fed.

Or even better, stick to design and don't sulley this place with your political ignorance.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:06 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Obviously, this thread, as Tan has noted, has a volatility factor hard to ignore. As has been written so far, some agree, others disagree greatly with pk's comments (last comment to be precise).

Without wanting to make this a bigger deal than it should be, I guess there should be an "official" stance on the matter from Speak Up's administrative and public relations group (if there is such a thing, which there is not):

While the opinion of pk, or any author for that matter, do not reflect my views or any of the author's, I (at least) stand behind pk's decision to say what's on his mind. Right or wrong.

I'd suggest — and I know this might be too much to ask — that if you take issue with pk's political stance you e-mail him directly and try (just try) to keep this discussion focused on the design aspect of it.

Thanks.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:14 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

Emotions. Yipes!

I was in college during Reagan's second term and was of the same mindset as most in this posting. But it's no surprise.

Students were bombarded in virtually every lecture hall with Reagan hate speech. The professors worked hard to portray a conservative as most here at Speak Up perceive them to be. I have been shocked to learn as an adult that 80% of college employees vote democrat. Is it no wonder bias is the drug of the American left?

I'm no liberal but I'm no conservative either. I consider my political and philisophical foundation to be Objectivist, but I can't help but think most here have had a conservative defined for them.

I was an apolitical liberal at the beginning of college and by graduation I was at the far left of the political spectrum (I was a registered Green and also cast my vote for Jesse Jackson in 1988). You can see my politics emblazoned on my skateboard in the Powell Peralta movie, Search for Animal Chin. (Build Ramps Not Bombs!)

It's been popular to say, "Dont't push your religeon on me." Well, the same could be said for pop culture liberalism.

I'm an Agnositc, but the phobia being thrown around today (and even in this blog) against religeon is frightening. Because it's popular, that makes it OK?

I have many liberal friends, and intelligence is common. Being smart is simply a gift we're born with, but wisdom is another quality altogether.

Wisdom is something that comes with time. It is a culmination of experiences that root out what is right and what is wrong. It's much harder to achieve and much more valuable to society.

If Reagan stood for anything he stood for personal responsibility.

All I saw from the gay community in the 80s was blame. The dead are a testimant to this fact. If the gay community didn't understand it enough then to alter their own behavior, how can we expect a president who doesn't live in their world to take up their cause?

It's interesting to me that AIDS -- statistically -- is 100% preventable. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the same passion went into activist art for diseases that are not preventable?

Maybe I have misunderstood Speak Up, but

I would respect the purpose of this forum and its participants more if it were able to stay on design. I know the original post was dealing with activist art, but the timing and tone was silly.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:22 PM
Rick’s comment is:

ha ha... two things:

snip... I just edited out my comments regarding homophobia. Sorry, Armin.

But:

And no matter what you say about The Gripper...

Can I insert a joke here about how he wasn't "The Gripper".. cause he was full-bleed?

heh.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:28 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

Sorry Armin, if he's to bring ill informed and pop culture politics into this blog, the discussion stays here.

Great post Chris.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:29 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

OK Rick you just cracked me up!

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:31 PM
Jeff G’s comment is:

I'd suggest — and I know this might be too much to ask — that if you take issue with pk's political stance you e-mail him directly and try (just try) to keep this discussion focused on the design aspect of it.

Armin, nice of you to ask - I'd probably prefer it that way - but in the previous paragraph you just defended pk's right to say what he did. Are Speak Up authors the only ones allowed to express political opinions? Or are you officially changing the direction that pk surely knew this would go when he posted? I'm not jumping down your throat, just asking for clarification.

Anyway, most everyone has been somewhat reasonable. I wouldn't be, so I'll go back to watching now.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:31 PM
Aizan’s comment is:

"mr. reagan? thanks for being such a jackass. without your lousy attitude, we would be culturally poorer."

This was tastefull until this.

Have a little fucking respect.

did anyone else think this was supposed to mean 'have a little respect for those who died'? so...reagan's policy leads to great suffering...but the bright side is we're 'culturally richer'? OMFG, what's wrong with you people?! i condone deaths for some purposes, but satisfying ego is not one of them.

Graphic Design is, of course, one of the key elements of protest so it's natural that we should see it blossom when it's needed. I don't mean to be sarcastic, but is it blossoming now? At least, in the way PK points out with his links? Seems to me it is, as long as there's a client willing to pay.

i'm gonna be sick, you guys.

Kindof a conundrum, that. No one would argue that the art is worth the loss of lives, and yet if everything were smooth, happy and rich all the time we'd probably enter an age of artistic stagnation. Nothing much to say, no particular drive to say it.

marian, give me a little hope. the members of ACT UP were directly affected, it was their friends dying. tell me designers know the difference between that and capitalizing on the suffering of strangers. whoever this doesn't apply to, clarify your position, please.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:36 PM
Aizan’s comment is:

hmm...seems i found a glitch in MT's HTML parsing. whoops.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:40 PM
Tan’s comment is:

How's the weather in Chicago today Armin? A bit warm and toasty? Hmm...thought so.

On Jun.07.2004 at 02:46 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

The idea that sickness, death and injustice somehow serve as pop cultural fertilizer is a strange thing to wax poetic about.

I'm sure we'd all prefer our loved ones alive and well over some hackneyed political propaganda.

What is going on here? If Reagan had not been pk's jackass, we would have missed out on what again? There's nothing great there, man.

Indeed, show some respect. You would wish the same for yours.

On Jun.07.2004 at 03:28 PM
pk’s comment is:

Or are you officially changing the direction that pk surely knew this would go when he posted?

nope, i didn't actually know how it would go, nor did i have any real bets. i did know it was a toss-up, though. which way was totally up in the air. i never know how Speak Up is going to take a post. i was hoping it was going to focus on the amount of art that came from the movement, since that was the bulk of my post...but apparently one opinionated statement is enough to throw it completely the other direction.

as for the figures regarding spending under the administration, this is valuable to me; thank you. i've never seen anything like that before, and in fact, folk wisdom throughout the gay community is that reagan pretty much never spoke of the problem, hoping it would be a non-issue.

i've spent more time researching, and have managed to come up with a single column which makes me feel it was truly written from a non-partisan viewpoint. the last four paragraphs are of particular interest. this one's more opinionated, and i have no idea what "last story" is, but the paragraphs on reagan's personal and public stances on AIDS are worth a look.

i've also asked for comment from a friend of mine who was both more cognizant and decidedly more HIV-aware than i was at the time. i'm hoping he has the time to comment on his experiences here.

On Jun.07.2004 at 03:40 PM
Anonymous’s comment is:

Chris and Brain Collins: You have great posts which were very intelligent and articulate. Now for something a little less so...

I am not gay, but I do have a few friends who are. I don't agree with that lifestyle but also I don't judge them for it, and some of them I cherish their personalities... which I recognize as a development from said lifestyle that I disagree with.

But I can't stand it when people disrespect the dead.

Why even blame Reagan? Do you really look to the government to hold your hand? Do you really think it was Reagan doing something wrong that caused the spread of the AIDS epedimic? Couldn't it have possibly been all you gay men and women having premarital and immoral sex that helped the spread? Oh no, of course not. Let's blame someone else.

Yes, I'm pissed but it's not my intention to take it out on the gay community (as it may seem) but rather at PK himself. Maybe when he's died a natural death someone will have some coloful things to say about him as well. I sincerely apologize to everyone else as I know this will offend more than just him, but I also hope my post will spur some insight for others.

Mr. King? Thanks for being such a jackass. Without your lousy attitude, we would be culturally poorer.

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:10 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Inherent in Patric's post, seconded by Marian, was the idea that bad times produce great art (and design). This was said best in the movie "The Third Man" (1979) by Orson Welles as Harry Lime:

'"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love; they had 500 years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:39 PM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

Sorry Armin, consciously stirring the pot.

I don't think there is anything trite about talking about how great art comes from suffering and oppression. It should be obvious that exactly this discussion is at the heart of many philosophical debates on aesthetics. In fact, if we divorce this issue from mr. reagan, this might make for a great topic that we could all enjoy. This is my main point.

Secondly, and you can all stop reading now if you want, I'm sorry, but I don't like the late Mr. Reagan and what he stood for. Not simply for his treatment of the AIDS crisis but for the way he led America and the West in general towards a neo-liberal economic, domestic and foreign policy. Iran-Contra anybody? Manuel Noriega, the invasion of Grenada, the bombing of Libya, Lebannon, supporting aparthied, etc.

This has all led to where we are today. As his partner in crime from this side of the ocean memorably stated "There is no such thing as society." Well, I'm sorry but I think there is. But that was their policy and while Thatcher delivered it with an iron fist, Reagan did it with a toothy smile. I recognise that this is MY opinion. But I think I, pk, marian and others should not be lambasted for expressing it.

I realise he was a human being, and probably a loving member of his family too. But you could probably say this for countless other mean people/dictators. The argument seems to be that because he has died recently we should all respect and reveer him. Yes, he has died, and I do feel for his family, but he was a public figure and he should be held accountable for his actions. His death does not change what he did in life. My respect for those that died under his direct orders forces me to say it as I see it.

Finally - as Darrell stated jokingly way back at the beginning, All presidents are Jackasses, even the dead ones. C'mon, jackass - that's pretty soft, I can't believe people are getting so worked up over this. We've called many a designer (and probably some of them dead) far worse than this on this site... and that hasn't stopped dialogue.

Call me a jackass, I really don't mind.

Now... back to design.

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:42 PM
Robynne Raye’s comment is:

Kevin Lo:

Great post. I was about to chime in when I read yours....

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:49 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Indeed, show some respect. You would wish the same for yours.

Why does death guarantee respect?

Couldn't it have possibly been all you gay men and women having premarital and immoral sex that helped the spread?

Wow. Now we're gay bashing in here?

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:52 PM
Su’s comment is:

Couldn't it have possibly been all you gay men and women

Here's your pigeonholing, Kris. With bonus anonymity, even.

having premarital

This is just funny.

immoral sex

So you don't judge your friends for buggery, but...

that helped the spread?

Absolutely true. And then those same people mobilized — which actually gets us back to the topic here — and greatly slowed the spread among the population. Now, be a dear and go check which populations currently have the fastest rates of infection. The theories as to how that happened are quite interesting.

Maybe when he's died a natural death someone will have some coloful things to say about him

I call dibs.

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:53 PM
pk’s comment is:

I call dibs.

hey.

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:57 PM
amanda’s comment is:

Couldn't it have possibly been all you gay men and women having premarital and immoral sex that helped the spread?

My goodness. I was going to contribute to this interesting discussion...but when emotions are soaring (and just plain hurtful)...it is best to let it just die.

Marian & Kevin Lo - agreed with both of your posts very much so. & PK, I don't think that you were over the top with your final statement. Use your free speech dude, we are very fortunate to have it.

On Jun.07.2004 at 04:59 PM
Kurt’s comment is:

It's hard for me to see portraits of Reagan now and not think of Robbie Conal's great "Contra Diction" poster. Or (on a lighter note) those "Spitting Image" puppets, of Reagan and Thatcher. Annoying at the time, but such perfect caricatures.

The first thing I did upon hearing of his death was dig out the old Prince track "Ronnie, Talk to Russia"...

On Jun.07.2004 at 05:22 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

I recognise that this is MY opinion. But I think I, pk, marian and others should not be lambasted for expressing it.

That's the price for expressing an opinion: People who don't agree with you are allowed to have an opinion of their own.

Speaking your mind is not free. It comes with the possibility of disagreement, and the responsibility of an honest attempt to see the argument from another's point of view.

This has been very popular with contemporary leftist: You're free to say what you'd like as long as we agree with what you're saying. If the left doesn't like it, they'll put a label on it (take your pick: homophobe, hate speech, racist). Many of the posts here are riddled with that brand of name calling.

What Anonymous is driving at is true diversity. Let me explain: Diversity is accepting all peoples for who and what they are, but that acceptance should be on our terms. It should not be defined by the current group in power or what is popular.

Consider that we are born with a simple right: The freedom of association. Anonymous has established principles they lead their life by, one of which -- appears to be -- rooted in religous tradition. Anonymous has tried to reconcile these beliefs with the reality of living in our society.

Everyone has bias (Aonymous has expressed theirs). But Anonymous is denounced while PK is praised for a courageous opinion. It doesn't take much courage to speak out in a forum where a majority will take your side. This forum, devoted to the applied arts, is safe grounds for conservative bashing.

It seems all we're doing is establishing a different formula for discrimination.

I have had one friend die from AIDS, I have had many more die from cancer and heart disease. Where's the activist art for these horrible human afflictions? Where's the passion? Or are these diseases simply too mainstream for the bohemian nature of artists?

On Jun.07.2004 at 05:57 PM
Armin’s comment is:

This is veering into very strange territory… so far it has been a moderately civilized conversation, so as long as it stays like that I'm game.

> Are Speak Up authors the only ones allowed to express political opinions?

Jeff, no, everybody is allowed but this is not a political forum so when possible I try to stir it into what it is: a design forum. Case in point, a nice, on-topic comment — that gets to the heart of the discussion — by Michael B. got lost amidst all the soap boxes.

> Or are you officially changing the direction that pk surely knew this would go when he posted?

I was trying to "officially" remind everybody why we are here: again, to talk about design. But I understand the need to express one's opinions. So, like I said, as long as it stays civilized go at it.

> How's the weather in Chicago today Armin? A bit warm and toasty?

It's actually one of the nicest days we have had in a long time. Thanks for asking.

On Jun.07.2004 at 06:33 PM
Aaron’s comment is:

dude, you were in Animal Chin. sweet.

On Jun.07.2004 at 06:58 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

Really only my deck. Although if you watch closely, I get run into by (I think) Mike McGill while leaning against the fence in Chris Borst's backyard.

But Stacey Peralta did film me doing slides. Unfortunatley it can only be found on the floor of the edit booth.

My 15 minutes only added up to 3 seconds.

On Jun.07.2004 at 07:12 PM
Su’s comment is:

Brian: Er, no. Anonymous is being denounced for

  • Blanket statements -- Note s/he didn't address those people 20ish years ago involved in the spread of the disease, but "you homosexuals." To be blunt, a lot of them are dead already, and s/he's therefore mostly addressing a whole lot of people who were completely uninvolved in the matter.
  • Assumption -- But not only was Anon addressing people uninvolved with the spread, but even then, many who were not even gay were part of the problem. There are other ways, remember? All of which were allowed to contribute to the spread, because the disease "didn't exist."
  • Wilfull ignorance -- "Premarital sex" implicitly passes the judgement that sex should occur in particular ways/at particular times, likely based in the religious beliefs you yourself are inferring, and is not something homosexuals exactly have a choice in what with the whole marriage=man/woman thing(Again religiously-based. Hm.) That was the funny part, by the way.
  • Bigotry -- In the literal sense of being a hypocrite. If s/he wants to judge, even if claiming not to, whatever.
  • To paraphrase: "I don't judge(see previous) the gay friends I have [...] however all you homosexuals and your immoral premarital sex..." Anon's claim, and consequently your support of said, to acceptance do not hold up.

  • Stereotype -- Does s/he actually believe his friends' charming personalities somehow derive from where they choose to stick other people's body parts?

ie: Not what s/he said, but the fact that it was factually inconsistent at best, or just plain wrong.

while PK is praised for a courageous opinion

I'm not counting or anything, but the response seems to be primarily negative or non-committal, actually.

On Jun.07.2004 at 07:14 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

Statistically, AIDS has killed less than 1% of our population. That being said I have always believed it a worthy fight to take up.

I'm pointing out that you and many others are making the same blanket statements and assumptions, engaging in the same wilful ignorance and bigotry, and stereotyping people like Anonymous.

Simply take your post and replace words like gay and homosexual, and insert Christian or religeous zealot.

To me, your opinion on the subject is just as valid as PKs and Anonymous', I simplyt think you and PK are not as honest about it as Anonymous.

On Jun.07.2004 at 07:51 PM
Tyler Walters’s comment is:

I was in fourth grade when Reagan left office, so everything I am about to write comes from quite a bit of research. (I wasn't really politically active back then)

I find it interesting that in an article about ACT UP, everyone is getting up in arms about calling President Reagan a jackass. I realize that his death changes things a bit, but if I recall correctly, ACT UP called him much worse things. Reagan also called gays and lesbians much worse things.

I also think that this whole discussion is interesting because it is, in ways, a mirror for some of the actions of ACT UP. They would do something inflammatory (call Reagan a jackass, perhaps). They would get media attention (much as this article has gotten plenty of attention), and regardless of what people thought about the inflammatory action, Reagan's AIDS policies came to the forefront of the public's consciousness.

Patric, thank you for bringing Reagan's AIDS policies back to the forefront of the public consciousness just in time for his canonization.

Just my 2�

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:13 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

And thanks to Chris for setting Patric straight (no pun intended)

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:19 PM
marian’s comment is:

Kindof a conundrum, that. No one would argue that the art is worth the loss of lives, and yet if everything were smooth, happy and rich all the time we'd probably enter an age of artistic stagnation. Nothing much to say, no particular drive to say it.

marian, give me a little hope. the members of ACT UP were directly affected, it was their friends dying. tell me designers know the difference between that and capitalizing on the suffering of strangers. whoever this doesn't apply to, clarify your position, please.

Azan - Sorry, this is a bit belated, but I don't understand your question at all. However I will clarify, just in case Michael B. didn't do it for me already.

Basically I was remarking on the balance (if you will) of great (impassioned, direct, effective, interesting, innovative) design and art on the one hand and the suffering that spurred it on the other hand. Without the suffering, the artists and designers would probably not have been riled enough to create what they did; but given a choice, any one of them--or a collective historical whole, for that matter--would choose to have the lives back instead of the art they made. And, as Michael illustrated, in times of peace and complacency it seems that art often suffers.

understand?

On Jun.07.2004 at 10:37 PM
Rob’s comment is:

Basically I was remarking on the balance (if you will) of great (impassioned, direct, effective, interesting, innovative) design and art on the one hand and the suffering that spurred it on the other hand. Without the suffering, the artists and designers would probably not have been riled enough to create what they did; but given a choice, any one of them--or a collective historical whole, for that matter--would choose to have the lives back instead of the art they made. And, as Michael illustrated, in times of peace and complacency it seems that art often suffers.

For one, I thought the above deserved repeating.

For Patric, I apologize for reacting not so much to the content of your original statement but more to the emotion. Having just lost my own father less than two months ago, I think that I let those emotions get the best of me in this case.

Now, back to what Marian commented on and Michael so beautifully illustrated is that art (design) it seems is always a stronger expression of those oppressed or somehow left out of step with the larger society as a whole. It takes strong, emotional issues to drive individuals to create and in times or societies of peace, your left with chirping birds and fine chocolates.

I'm probably stretching this is a bit but I do find it intriguing that one of the world's most perfect symbols, a symbol used for thousands of years as nothing closely related to evil, was rendered as the symbol for hate and evil in such a short period of time as the Nazi regime was in power.

And then to have ACT UP take another symbol, the pink triangle, from this same era and turn into a call to action for an entire generation of not only gay men and women, but straight people who understood their fight, is a true sign of the power of design.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:05 AM
B. Pittman’s comment is:

You may be correct to argue that Reagan failed to put necessary funding toward fighting the epidemic, but to say he is responsible for those deaths is just wrong. The fact is, people knowingly participated in acts that put them at risk. Why is that anybody's fault but those who endangered their own lives with risky behaviors? (And we learned a lot about what those behaviors were in the tail end of his administration.)

I don't have a problem with voicing your opinions with conviction, as you have. I don't have a problem with a healthy skepticism of the status quo. My problem is with people thinking the establishment is responsible for their well being.

This post mortem (that means after death for those of you who went to art school) of Reagan is no worse than those conservatives who can see nothing good from Clinton's administration, and only see him for his unfaithfulness and lack of character.

In general you (especially you Patric) are good at questioning things. Maybe now is a good time to quesion your belief that the government is responsible for your woes. Oh, does that sound like a stretch? Does it sound like a generalization you're not prepared to make? Then likewise, saying the president is responsible for those deaths is both a stretch and a misplaced generalization.

- ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ -

Anonymous wrote about "premarital sex." Don't rule out his comment because it's not a politically astute word choice. (A more universal word choice would've been non-monogamous sex.) If you think religious people have got it all wrong, they have at least one thing right. People that abstain from sex until they select one sexual partner have zero risk of acquiring AIDS from a sexual partner. Read that last sentence again, because it's correct and it applies to everybody. Oh, and don't be offended if that idea originally came from God.

On Jun.08.2004 at 02:42 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

I know a lot of people who consider themselves "religious" who have had more than one sexual partner.

On the other hand, I happened to have married the first and only girl I ever kissed thirty years ago, and we're still married. But I personally consider that luck, not a practical plan for living, or even a sensible way for most people to practice "safe sex."

This has gotten pretty far from a design discussion, I guess.

On Jun.08.2004 at 07:35 AM
marian’s comment is:

Wow!

On Jun.08.2004 at 08:00 AM
sheryl’s comment is:

This post has gotten me so angry I don't know where to start.

"This has been very popular with contemporary leftist: You're free to say what you'd like as long as we agree with what you're saying. If the left doesn't like it, they'll put a label on it (take your pick: homophobe, hate speech, racist). Many of the posts here are riddled with that brand of name calling."

The very popular right doesn't use this tactic do they? Unpatriotic? Anti-American? Un-American? Un-Christian? Uneducated? Godless? I could go on and on...

If you think religious people have got it all wrong, they have at least one thing right. People that abstain from sex until they select one sexual partner have zero risk of acquiring AIDS from a sexual partner.

This is just ridiculous. Babies are born with AIDS. Wives faithful to their husbands can get infected by a straying husband. Sharing needles anyone? That can get you AIDS as well.

I remember the Reagan years. I also remember how many people in his adminisrtation that were indicted. Laws? What are laws? Laws are for the little people, right Ollie? The ends justify the means.

Use your anger today to produce something phenomenal. I know I will.

On Jun.08.2004 at 08:38 AM
big steve’s comment is:

To address the graphic aspect of this, I love the work of Gran Fury and ACT UP - I was introduced to it by my favorite art history professor in college, Richard Meyer (Kurt, small world, Robbie Conal was my drawing professor!) and have come across it repeatedly in the past few years. Considering ACT UP, or Martha Rolser's early work about the vietnam war, or Barbara Kruger's (often) feminist art, I have to echo the idea that great art comes from struggle. I'll take it one step further though, and say that graphic design as we know it wouldnt exist without the above mentioned people - Martha Rosler and Barbara Kruger were punk rock before punk rock, they were david carson before david carson. That's my opinion.

As for Reagan, a few days before he died I was talking about him with a friend, and my sentiment was this - I wish i could have woken up and killed him myself every morning for a hundred years. If I didn't leave los angeles sunday night, i would have stood in line all day in santa monica for the oppertunity to spit on his coffin. He left a mess in this country and all around the world that is going to outlive all of us, and I'm not just talking about the AIDS issue. My pigheaded opinion on him aside though, I think it's ignorant and offensive to give someone carte blanc just because they're dead. Fuck that, dying isn't an achievement - it's pretty much the only thing that everyone will succeed at sooner or later. Further, I don't imagine he wept for the thousands of people that died either directly or indirectly as a result of his policy. I know i'm the jerk right now, but if you truly believe that we should respect someone and ignore their role in history just because of thier demise, I hope you have your rosary out and ready to say a prayer the day Osama bin Laden's head is finally served on a silver platter to the U.S., or maybe you can just quitely respect and eulogize Saddam after we scoot him through a mock war tribunal and hook a car battery up to his nuts and send him back to Allah, Abu Ghraib style... Sorry to use extreme examples, but I think the ol' Gipper has them both beat by a furlong for Asshole of the millenium.

On Jun.08.2004 at 08:44 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Simply take your post and replace words like gay and homosexual, and insert Christian or religeous zealot.

Gay/Homosexual = biology

Christian/Religious Zealot = personal choice and interpretation

there's a difference there.

On Jun.08.2004 at 09:35 AM
Kurt’s comment is:

Regarding the posted comments about "religious people" and sexuality, I've seen Hasidim in the backrooms of East Village gay bars. Now that's what I love about America! (Or maybe that's just what I love about New York City.) Room (even if it's a backroom) for everybody.

The story of the ACT UP graphics is brilliantly told in the book AIDS Demo Graphics (Bay Press, 1990). I'm not sure if it's still in print, but it should be, and students should see it. When I was in school (Bush the Elder years) I found this book incredibly inspiring. I looked at it again about five years ago (during the boom) and the graphics looked dated to me, I suspect because the politics seemed dated. But after reading Patric's post I dug the book out again last night and I'm pleased to report it all looks fresh. Conclusion? I think Michael B. is onto something in his post.

What I'm left wondering this morning, though, is where are the comparable graphic symbols of protest now, and not just regarding AIDS? Will the Bush the Second years leave us with a legacy of strong, simple, inspiring graphics? If they're out there, I haven't seen them yet... The "Silence=Death" poster was in done in 1986, and ACT UP didn't get going until 1987, late in Reagan's second term. So these may still be coming.

These posts have also got me thinking about what it was like to come out in the late '80s -- it was scary, and it seemed political at the time. Scary because of AIDS, and political because the religious right needlessly made it so. Now I'm wondering if the confrontational nature of the ACT UP graphics also scared me on some level... They certainly heightened things.

And these posts have also gotten me thinking about media representations of what I'll call "gayness" and design, and this odd overlap between the two. I'll purposely sidestep the gay marriage brouhaha and say that "gayness," in the media, now largely seems to be about "shopping," the Fab Five, makeovers... And suspiciously, the media representations of design seem to cover the same area: objects, consumer culture, buying things, it's all ultimately about shopping. I say suspiciously because I don't trust any of this! I'm gay and I hate shopping and makeovers! I'm a slob! And I like design! Is there any hope for me? Or should I beat a hasty retreat to DesignObserver.

On Jun.08.2004 at 11:22 AM
steph’s comment is:

After reading all the posts, I have mixed feelings concerning the sterotypes being tossed around like dodgeballs.

When I became a fine artist and graphic designer, I was taught early on to be open minded and not label issues or people. But instead to look at the situation in an oblique sense and from a more positive angle.

In an attempt to not sound like a pharasee, I can only think of a parable I try to live by.

I far easier to point our the splinter in your brothers eye than to notice the log in your own.

Humility along with being open minded, a straying away from being judgemental, has brought me success with relationships with my clients and with the results i get for those clients.

Ronald Reagan, like all other political leaders have there faults. But if I had to step up to the plate and fill those shoes, I would have to honestly ask myself, "Could I do any better?"

Just food for thought. Treat each other kindly.

On Jun.08.2004 at 11:37 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Or should I beat a hasty retreat to DesignObserver.

Kurt, um, is that like the "back room"?

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:27 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

I think you're missing the point Sheryl...

The very popular right doesn't use this tactic do they? Unpatriotic? Anti-American? Un-American? Un-Christian? Uneducated? Godless? I could go on and on...

Of course there are a few, often quoted pundits on the far right who throw these terms around. But they don't reflect everyone of conservative values. My point was, many in this forum who demand tolerance are unwilling to show any tolerance for conservative lifestyles.

In an earlier post, I identified myself as an Agnostic. But I am not threatened by a person of religious convictions. Darrel made a common observation in an earlier post:

Gay/Homosexual = biology

Christian/Religious Zealot = personal choice and interpretation

I agree with him. But a person of faith believes biology derives from God. I don't agree, but I do tolerate their belief just as many in this blog demand religious people to tolerate them.

As I stated earlier, we're just concoctiing a new formula for discrimination.

As to Big Steve's comments... Check your assumptions. The picture in your head of Reagan was painted by popular media and biased academics, both unchecked from the late 1960s to the arly 90s (the academics are still unchecked, see my earlier post). Get the facts yourself, as Chris had done in an earlier post. Read pro-Reagan commentary, read anti-Reagan commentary, Find the inconsistencies and seek unbiased historical data to get to the truth. I've already done it, and that's the nature of my passion for the subject. Anybody want to debate the Iran-Contra affair?

As to Steph. Thanks. I think that's what I'm really trying to say.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:36 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Heard something this morning related to all of this.

AP announced that the movement to replace Alexander Hamilton with Ronald Reagan on the $10 bill has been revived — and is heading full steam through Congress. It's very likely that it will pass.

So regardless of what you think of the man, it's hard to ignore the fact that for an entire generation of Americans — Ronald Reagan is considered to be one of our greatest national leaders.

So protest all you want, but it won't change that public perception.

>People that abstain from sex until they select one sexual partner have zero risk of acquiring AIDS from a sexual partner. Read that last sentence again, because it's correct and it applies to everybody. Oh, and don't be offended if that idea originally came from God.

Wrong. It's incorrect, and doesn't apply to everybody. And your God isn't necessarily the same God worshipped by the other 6.5 billion people on this planet.

Please take your ignorance elsewhere.

>if you truly believe that we should respect someone and ignore their role in history just because of thier demise, I hope you have your rosary out and ready to say a prayer the day Osama bin Laden's head is finally served on a silver platter to the U.S.

Regardless of what you think of the man — he was a former president of our country. He doesn't deserve to be compared to Osama nor does his actions.

The level of stupidity of conversations on this thread absolutely astounds me.

>What I'm left wondering this morning, though, is where are the comparable graphic symbols of protest now, and not just regarding AIDS?

Great question. I think one reason for a lack of modern-day protest symbol is because of the amount and type of media dissemination we have today. Cable, the internet, journals, and a thousand other channels of mass media have given people endless ways to find like-minded communities and voices. The immediacy and saturation of modern mass media has also inadvertently diluted the strength of a particular group's actions, immediately alerting dissenters to voice opposing views at the same time. Pretty similar to what's happened here on this thread..

It's about achieving a threshold of solidarity. Which is something that's becoming more difficult in such an egalitarian, media-saturated world.

That's my guess. Anyone else?

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:40 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

Right on Tan...

AP announced that the movement to replace Alexander Hamilton with Ronald Reagan on the $10 bill has been revived

I can't stand the design of our money. For me, it all comes down to typography. This has probably been done, but a discussion on the design of U.S. currency would be great.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:49 PM
priya’s comment is:

Patric, thank you for bringing Reagan's AIDS policies back to the forefront of the public consciousness just in time for his canonization.

not to hijack this already hijacked thread but speaking of canonization... Reagan may replace Hamilton on the $10 bill or appear on half the dimes minted in the US.

just thought it interesting...

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:49 PM
priya’s comment is:

um. what tan said. (i hate slow 'puters.)

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:52 PM
Kurt’s comment is:

Ha! Armin I love the idea of DO as "back room." If it is, it's a heavier scene... Want a little pain with your pleasure?

Speak Up, Design Observer -- I go both ways.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:54 PM
Rick’s comment is:

Great question. I think one reason for a lack of modern-day protest symbol is because of the amount and type of media dissemination we have today.

Wait... does that mean we're back to the discussion about Adbusters?

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:56 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

I just rearead Tan's last post, and the last few paragraphs were great. This is precisely what I'm driving at.

It's about achieving a threshold of solidarity. Which is something that's becoming more difficult in such an egalitarian, media-saturated world.

Too many in this blog have been consumed with their own fight to try and understand their enemy. There's coomon ground if we're willing to look for it.

On Jun.08.2004 at 01:00 PM
marian’s comment is:

The immediacy and saturation of modern mass media has also inadvertently diluted the strength of a particular group's actions, immediately alerting dissenters to voice opposing views at the same time.

Well now that is an interesting thought, and worthy of a post in itself (wink wink).

And suspiciously, the media representations of design seem to cover the same area: objects, consumer culture, buying things, it's all ultimately about shopping.

Aha. Now that would be the comodification of a movement. In the olden days, governments would use various political tactics to (attempt to) diffuse insurgencies: imprisonment, execution, divide and conquer (still a very effective tactic). But these days it just gets turned into a marketing opportunity. There's a great line in the movie "Withnail and I" about the end of the 60s .. .to paraphrase, "They're selling hippy wigs in Woolworth's, man ... it's the end of an era."

So where does that put us as designers? First we design the protest posters, then we put them on t-shirts and sell them as fashion. Perhaps this is another case of divide and conquer.

On Jun.08.2004 at 01:06 PM
Aizan’s comment is:

Marian, you pretty much explained my reasons for being demoralized about how some designers relate to things like ACT UP. Culture as commodity is the thinking of someone detached from the history in question. It's an exploitation and oppression that shouldn't be entertained because it leads to a vapid, spiritless identification with and appropriation of somebody else's terrible experiences. How fit does that make you to claim a great artistic heritage, if that's what you're after? It's funny: if you want it, you can't have it.

On Jun.08.2004 at 02:12 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Tan, you're breaking B Pittman's balls for for his faith-based statement (...And your God isn't necessarily the same God worshipped by the other 6.5 billion people on this planet.), maybe you can share with me your religion that states that one must hold high regard for a local statesman. He was A US President, not my president - I didnt vote for him, i didnt support him, and his title alone doesnt get him anywhere in my book. As far as comparing him to Osama, well they both funded terror in a far-away land in an attempt to further their own cause (Islamic jingoism on one hand, American democracy on the other), the only difference is that Ron played for your team instead of against it. Oh, and as far as a citizen's right/duty to commemorate or have pride in his nation's leader, take a poll in Iraq and see how tolerant we are of the Iraqi citizens that support Saddam. I understand it's a thick-headed argument, am I am by no means a bleeding heart that sits around all day crying about the war, but if your gonna call me and my opinion stupid, then hopefully you can have the humility to check your own against the Moral Imperative, or some sort of univerasl philosophy that takes into account multiple perspectives and not just your own.

On Jun.08.2004 at 02:30 PM
big steve’s comment is:

I guess to try to get on topic at least a bit, I think that a possible problem with modern day activism / protest is that it, like everything else these days, has become celebratized. Back in the Grany Fury/ACT UP days, it was all about the message, but as early as Keith Haring, it became less about the message and more about the messenger - uber-rich art elite collecting anything they could find by him in the late 80s, regardless of the fact that the message in the work was often contrary to their personal politics.

Shep Fairey has really done the same for postering, making a brand identity (Black Market) of his political public disobedience. Robbie Conal's posters are the same in los angeles - when people drive by them, they don't read the posters as a political message, but rather a new piece by Robbie, or Shep, or Mear One (or All three). It's kinda like when Tom Cruise plays a samurai in a movie, or Brad Pitt plays a warrior - people don't care about the story of the war general that moves to teh orient, they just wanna see Tom Cruise in whatever costume that he has chosen.

Unfortunately, i think that because of the supersaturation of information in our society (how many hundreds of blogs and dozens of tv channels are discussing political activism as I type?!) people need some sort of validation to their information/cause before they can get behind it, but then it becomes a situation where you are no longer voting your governor out of office because of his actions, but rather because the Terminator is the other voice. kinda sucks (and not just in an Arnold way, in a bi-partisan way).

On Jun.08.2004 at 02:52 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Finally, if you want to know why public outcry against government isn't as loud or as organized as it once was, maybe you should look to the heads of all of the media outlets in America (liberal media my ass) - nearly zero news coverage of the hundreds of thousands of people who were protesting in the streets when the Iraq War has just begun (with teh exception of painting those activists as friends of evil, and anti-american, etc etc), The rejection of a Doonsbury comic a few weeks ago from most newspapers nationwide because of its "extreme" message, the blackout of Nightline a few weeks ago by Pres Bush's personal friend from his tv stations in a number of large national markets because it humanized the victims of this bullshit war, TIME Magazine's (often considered liberal) dropping of Ted Rall's comic after a ten year relationship because it was "too political" (FOR TIME!!!), Disney's attempt to bankrupt the distribution of Farenheit 9/11... There are people that are speaking on hte current political climate, but in a country where the president and the heads of so many huge corporations are in bed together, it's pretty hard to get a voice out...

I've been lambasted for posting a link to Ted Rall here before, but his article today is, I feel, very apt, Here.

On Jun.08.2004 at 03:14 PM
marian’s comment is:

How fit does that make you to claim a great artistic heritage, if that's what you're after? It's funny: if you want it, you can't have it

Once again Aizan, I'm not sure where you're coming from. You seem to assume that when I say "this is so" I mean "this is as it should be." Not the case at all.

Or by "you" do you mean "one"?

I think what's happening here is I'm making a fairly impassive observation about the state of the world and you're passionately crying the blues because you don't like that state ... or my statement about it, or something.

Or maybe we're just completely agreeing with each other. I can't tell.

I don't think "we designers" are at the root of subverting or commodifying protest movements. That subversion comes from elsewhere, we're just the paid executioners.

This is all sortof off-topic, but it is at least design-related.

On Jun.08.2004 at 03:14 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>then hopefully you can have the humility to check your own against the Moral Imperative

I'm not a super patriot, and as I've mentioned, have been a staunch democrat since before I could vote. But Steve, I just don't see your point of comparing the two figures. Especially w/i the context of this discussion.

But you're right. I've no more right to call your comparison stupid than you have to make it in the first place. So you're entitled to your opinion, and I'm entitled to still think it's stupid. Better?

And as far as Pittman's religious view — I have big problems with people telling me what I should believe from "God" and what is moral and immoral. That, plus the fact that he has his AIDS facts wrong, is why I chose to break his balls. Nuthin to do with Reagan.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program.

On Jun.08.2004 at 03:49 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

And as far as Pittman's religious view — I have big problems with people telling me what I should believe from "God" and what is moral and immoral. That, plus the fact that he has his AIDS facts wrong, is why I chose to break his balls. Nuthin to do with Reagan.

I'm not sure any of us have the right stats on AIDS.

On Jun.08.2004 at 03:59 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Interesting thoughts, Steve. Perhaps we just have 'too much' media of all sorts, and it just becomes the background noise of our daily lives. Any protest is seen as a blip on the overall media radar and given little second thought.

I try to keep up on events these days and the other day I was sitting there thinking 'hey!...what happened to all of the commotion in Haiti?'

It was the only thing on the radar for a week, then it's gone...never to be mentioned again. The media has a short attention span, and, as such, so do we, I guess.

On Jun.08.2004 at 04:05 PM
mazzei’s comment is:

AIDS existed and was running rampant before Ronny came into office. The fact that he didn’t “publicly acknowledge” it is unfortunate but honestly, with his wife’s “just say no to drugs campaign” maybe he thought printing on paper bags (standard bag one color) would save the world. If you want to “remember reagan” watch his bad movies and debate if the point size of the credit font is “to your liking”. If you want to talk about how design has changed/educated anything in the AIDS community re-name this blog and make it more relevant. Right now it seems everyone is posturing for president.

On Jun.08.2004 at 04:41 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Including you.

On Jun.08.2004 at 04:58 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

with his wife’s “just say no to drugs campaign” maybe he thought printing on paper bags (standard bag one color) would save the world

Ha!

;o)

On Jun.08.2004 at 05:16 PM
Aizan’s comment is:

I'm making a fairly impassive observation about the state of the world and you're passionately crying the blues because you don't like that state

why impassively?

I don't think "we designers" are at the root of subverting or commodifying protest movements. That subversion comes from elsewhere, we're just the paid executioners.

ok...does that mean we're not so lousy? either way, i think pk's original comment shows that sometimes we can be at the root, not just hired guns.

On Jun.08.2004 at 05:51 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Just to put everything in perspective, here's Hunter S. Thompson on the death of Richard Nixon. Talk about "a little fucking respect."

On Jun.08.2004 at 06:28 PM
Su’s comment is:

Hah. Can this just end on that note?

On Jun.08.2004 at 08:02 PM
pk’s comment is:

basically what this thread seems to have devolved into is two variants on the same thing:

1): you can't say bad things about reagan because he's dead, and

2) you can't say bad things about reagan because your opinion doesn't jive with mine.

both variants are utter bullshit. i am allowed to say those things anywhere i want, any time i want and as loud as i want. for anyone to completely hijack any point i tried to make by isolating a single opinionated statement and making the entire conversation about that statement—easpecially considering what a footnote that statement was in the original post—is completely peurile. for a community of professionals who have to lend your voices to other's opinions on a daily basis, you're spending an awful lot of time whining about me voicing my opinion as if you've never dealt with one before. it's pretty asinine.

the thread was about art and design that happened in response to reagan's administration's policies, regardless of either side's viewpoint. the important fact is the art happened. the work changed a lot of things about art and activism.

ACT UP's work was one of the first times an activist group harnessed the arts on such a wide and polished level. their work was important because before them, public activist art was wdely perceived as a dusty relic from a previous generation. it was definitely seen as uncool, and simply didn't fit into the burgeoning soundbite society coming out of the seventies and early eighties. ACT UP's work, in direct contrast to that of the sixties, was slick, and created specifically for a much more media-drenched audience than earlier forms of public protest art ever were. the love-in was over, the protest song with acoustic guitar was replaced by the plugged in punked out protest event, and the hand-markered singular protest placard was replaced by the mass-printed poster distributed by those who, in the words of absolutely fabulous' edina monsoon, "PR'ed PR into existence, sweetie darling."

i understand that some here feel that ACT UP's message became convoluted by the degree of celebrity involved in the public dissemination of that art, but i never really got that at my young age. i saw nothing more that an amazing amount of single-focus art spewing out of this particular organization, and from some of the most talented image and messagamakers of the time.

i found haring's work particularly interesting, considering he was rapid dissasebling the popular notion of artist as singular visionary. warhol had begun that work, but haring took it even further by applying his voice to pretty much any cause that appealed to him, altering his work slightly to work towards that cause, and then marketing the living hell out of it in the form of public presentation, product development, and what seemed to be a never-ending flurry of press releases circulating around the country.

those not directly involved in ACT UP's agenda got in on the game as well, and the value of the public image began to be recognized. colors magaizne ran a highly inflammatory series of images in which celebrities were turned against that which they stood for at the time: reagan was repainted as a lesion-covered AIDS patient, schwarzenegger was painted as a black man, and michael jackson was (spookily and accurately) repainted as a white woman.

i realize environmental activism was at a new height at during this perid as well, but frankly: i was a little more concerned about my sexuality at the time, hence the focus of my post. if anyone has any great examples of other activist art from the period, i would love to see it. i understand that was around the same time greenpeace began being widely known as well. any takers?

On Jun.08.2004 at 08:54 PM
big steve’s comment is:

pk, i'm totally on your side with Haring and the effort behind the activism - I stated that the effort became celebritized, but that's in no way Haring's fault - he actually faught against commercialism as much as possible (of course, while taking advantage with the Pop Shop etc to support his passion). He is in my top two or three favorite artists of all time, and I actually wrote quite a lengthy thesis about the torch being passed from Warhol to him for an Art History class.

There's a german poster book I always see when i browse, but have yet to buy that has a nice section on ACT UP, but to re-plug my main man, if you check out Richard Meyer's Outlaw Representation, it actually does something we've been kind of avoiding, which is that it gives an in-depth visual analysis of the art of ACT UP and Gran Fury (while relating it to issues of censorship and activism). If you have any interest in the subject, you might dig the book.

On Jun.08.2004 at 09:57 PM
pk’s comment is:

I actually wrote quite a lengthy thesis about the torch being passed from Warhol to him for an Art History class.

is it digital? love to see.

On Jun.08.2004 at 11:32 PM
Brian Collins’s comment is:

Sometimes a single isolated opinionated statement can so polarize an audience as to make anything worthwhile you have to say meaningless. So, choose your words wisely.

If you want to take anything away from the thread, take this: If you want to change peoples minds, learn to speak their language.

Now, here's something funny. I'm finished.

On Jun.08.2004 at 11:41 PM
Su’s comment is:

Gotcha last!

On Jun.09.2004 at 03:54 AM
G. I.’s comment is:

Ronald was a good guy. He hated commies and fags. So what?

On Jun.09.2004 at 05:38 AM
Tom Cox’s comment is:

Here is what is asinine, if you reread the first 10 or so post, only a couple asked that you respect a dead President. The rest of the comments shoveled on more insults, which is what probably ignited those who jumped to defend a dead man.

If Carter had been elected for four more years? Please, Tan, I love ya, but “Please take your ignorance elsewhere.” : ) The Soviet Union would have probably taken Afghanistan, which could have led to them moving on in to the Middle East, controlled the worlds oil supply and in so doing destroying our economy and the only force able to stand against them. Because if you remember, our military was depleted when Reagan took office because of all the anti-Vietnam backlash. So our economy is in ruin and there is no funding for AIDS or any other important cause. The Middle East Peace Accords that Carter had focused too much on would have been null and void as we could not have aided them against the USSR. Although Reagan left office with a huge deficit, think about what our economy would have looked like in the 90's if we were still trying to defend against the USSR. Bush 41 and Clinton definitely benefited from Reagan's great accomplishment.

Again, I'll take this privilege that Armin has supplied to say that without this great country as a strong force to defend against the actual imperialistic despots of this world, well then I doubt a man from Mexico could come to this country and start a graphic design web blog where everyone is free to voice their opinion.

Oh also, since you brought it up

Gay/Homosexual = biology

Christian/Religious Zealot = personal choice and interpretation

I will agree on the zealous choice, but a Christian is humble enough in spirit to know that it is God that loves ALL of us first. And it is our choice to except it.

and Tan, also the statement about ignorance, the only thing Pittman left out was the fact that if BOTH partners abstain til marriage and remain faithful, then as he said, they do have zero risk of acquiring AIDS from a sexual partner. Obviously someone can acquire AIDS through other means, but look at the countries in Africa that are having the greatest success fighting this horrific disease - they are promoting abstinence. To promote that here is to be labeled a right wing nut case.

I appreciate Brian's attempt to have us all see both sides of the issues, but I wonder if that will ever happen?

As far as the actual topic, I love the Wells quote. But to be honest, I don't remember ACT UP from the 80's at all. Which makes me wonder if they were preaching to the choir, as most us, myself included, are doing here.

On Jun.09.2004 at 08:30 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

it's pretty asinine.

Or, rather, it's a blog ;o)

Which also explains things like G.I. insightful observations.

On Jun.09.2004 at 08:39 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

The Soviet Union would have probably taken Afghanistan, which could have led to them moving on in to the Middle East, controlled the worlds oil supply

There's a crapload of irony (and misinformation) in that statement. ;o)

they are promoting abstinence. To promote that here is to be labeled a right wing nut case.

And it's nuts to promote it there as well.

On Jun.09.2004 at 08:50 AM
big steve’s comment is:

Tom, Russia was crumbling from the inside throughout the 1970s and 80s, and maybe teh arms race did do enough to bankrupt the country, but no matter who was president during the period, there's a 0.000% chance we'd be saluting the hammer and sickle.

pk - after typing about my essay, i realized it was actually an in class final - 2 blue books in three hours! But I do still talk with that professor sometimes, and if i can hunt it down, you'll be the first to know.

One hundredth comment! Woo Hoo!

On Jun.09.2004 at 10:14 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Tom—my conservative, right-wing buddy,

Touché. Ok, so Carter wouldn't have probably done any better. Who knows how Afghanistan would've turned out, but his Middle East Accord might have made it a different world than what it is today. At the time, Russia's actions were predatorial. But perhaps they were just trying to stabilize the Middle East (their backyard) the only way they knew how. It's a little presumptuous to think that they were after the Communization of the entire region.

Hell, we can talk Cold War politics forever. But another day.

And back to Pittman. Abstinence and monogamy is cool. And yes, it greatly reduces your chances of getting AIDS. But please don't justify it with morality and religion. Don't talk about it as the "word of God", suggesting that AIDS is a result of not being pious. It was nothing more than thinly-veiled, Christian preaching. And I know you can't be supporting that Tom.

My point was for him to take that crap elsewhere. Never did I suggest that abstinence was extreme, right wing thinking.

On Jun.09.2004 at 02:27 PM
Tom’s comment is:

Oh yeah, I was touting abstinence as a scientific/logical approach. Not that everyone agrees with that.

Now, I do believe the "Word of God" emhasizes monogamy for that and many other reasons, but would NEVER suggest that AIDS is a result of being unrighteous. I don't expect non-Christians to believe what I do because I am a Christian and the Bible says so, Lord knows I didn't before I became one. And as for thinly-veiled Christian preaching, I prefer the lay it on thick kind. Hey maybe we could start a Soap Box section for Speak Up - I could be the resident Jesus Freak!! : )

Hey Armin, maybe next week, we could do a thread on brand equity of Pro-Choice and Pro-Life posters! Ha!

On Jun.09.2004 at 04:43 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Hey maybe we could start a Soap Box section for Speak Up - I could be the resident Jesus Freak!! : )

Two words: Oy Vey.

On Jun.09.2004 at 06:27 PM
Stephen Daedalus’s comment is:

Poster by Robbie Conal

Regan legacy reconsidered (pre-mortem)

On Jun.10.2004 at 09:12 AM
Steven’s comment is:

I'm soooooooooooooooooooo sick of all of this Reagan eulogizing. But, let's be honest, you know this media frenzy is being orchestrated in order to get a bounce-back in Bush's falling poll numbers.

Reagan was a patronizing, good ol' boy, who only cared about rich, white, Christian folk. And he exploited a myth of an American past that never really existed.

ACT UP made the best of a very, very bad situation.

On Jun.12.2004 at 01:14 AM
Steven’s comment is:

BTW, for a visual reference of my feeling about Reagan at the time of his presidency, I would point to Kit Hinrichs Stars & Stripes, Chronicle Books, 1988.

On Jun.12.2004 at 02:06 AM
MrBlank’s comment is:

PK,

I’m not trying to get too personal with this, but this thread and your attitude is really getting to me. Your post sounds like you were angry about all the mourning over Regan’s death and you wanted to voice your opinion about it. Instead of putting it on your own, personal blog, you add a few paragraphs and links that have to do with design, tack on a bit o’ Regan hate at the beginning and end and you’ve got your effective complaint to post on Speak Up. This disappoints me since this isn’t the purpose of Speak Up.

The comments you got weren’t really that surprising. I figured that it was your intent to get a Regan topic going. Your reply on June 8 is what got my attention. You got defensive about people “hijacking” your points because of one statement and then called everyone’s “whining” “asinine”. To me your response is what’s asinine. You are the one who hijacked your original post to begin with. It was not about art and design. It was about politics and how much you despise Regan. You even titled it “Remembering Ronald Regan.” Then when you get comments about it you call them “bullshit” and you go on and let everyone know that you can say what you want as loud as you want. Sure, this is a free country with freedom of speech and all, but come on.

I think the point of a lot of those comments was not to tell you that you’re wrong, but to hold back until the man is buried. How do you feel about Fred Phelps and his ilk picketing the funerals of gay kids who had been murdered by homophobes? Do you agree with that? By writing such anti-Regan words in a public forum, you are essentially doing the same thing as Mr. Phelps. Regan’s passing saddened a lot of people and some could have come across your post on Speak Up adding insult to injury. “Have a little fucking respect.” Not for Regan, but for the people mourning him.

I think you would have had a more informative post about ACT UP if you’d waited till after the funeral, calmed down a little and included the information you wrote in the second half of your comment on June 8. Maybe we would have been able to have a discussion about ACT UP.

On Jun.14.2004 at 02:08 PM
Jeff G’s comment is:

"What I learned about Communications Design last week"

Craft the design so that only my intended message gets through.

Patric used the occasion of Pres Reagan's death to write about gay protest design in the 80s, but we've made over a hundred comments about whether or not Reagan was a good guy or a bad guy.

One angry little paragraph that shouldn't have been parked at the end diverted an entire discussion.

-

Question: Is everybody in America wound up as tight as the posters on Speak Up are right now?

On Jun.14.2004 at 04:07 PM
Tan’s comment is:

You know, Ray Charles died last week, and few seemed to notice amidst all of this Reagan mourning. What a shame.

I thought it'd be appropriate to hijack back this thread momentarily to honor the passing of an American legend.

On Jun.14.2004 at 05:25 PM
Paul’s comment is:

Thanks, Tan.

I felt a genuine and easily defined sadness at Ray Charles' passing, unlike the more complex abivalence I felt over Reagan's. I think it's fair to say that a lot more people can agree upon the beauty of Ray's music than on anything Reagan ever did or didn't do. In my mind, that's worth highlighting here if for nothing else than to underscore that fundamental principle of design: contrast.

I know this is stupidly over-simplified, but I 'm just calling it as I feel it.

On Jun.14.2004 at 06:36 PM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

graphics for the gipper

On Jun.15.2004 at 07:39 PM
Clifford Cuffy’s comment is:

Dear sir/madam I read your comment that you made concerning former President Regan. May the God of Heaven and the Christ of Salvation forgive you and bless you with eternal life. And may He open your eyes of understanding.

On Jul.05.2004 at 11:27 PM
...’s comment is:

Oh boy...

On Jan.07.2009 at 07:44 PM