As a response to the unveiling of former President Barack Obama’s official portrait, pro-Trump trolls launched a smear campaign against artist Kehinde Wiley, claiming a painting of his symbolizes an attack against white people and that the artist “seems racist.”
On Twitter and online message boards like the “politically correct” threads on 4chan, 8chan, and The_Donald subreddit on Reddit, pro-Trump trolls are smearing Wiley by claiming his rendition of Judith beheading Holofernes, a modern twist on a classical theme including works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, and others, is “a ‘queen’ cutting off the head of a young white child.” Commenters on the message boards and Twitter have said Wiley “seems racist” and accused the artist of being “the definition of racism.”
Wiley’s painting was part of a series of portraits of women he entitled An Economy of Grace. The artist is known for remixing "classical European art with black urban youth." As Upworthy’s Parker Molloy documented, the smearing seems “clearly pretty coordinated” and the manufactured outrage echoes other stunts pro-Trump trolls have pulled to garner mainstream media attention and shape narratives, like suing over all-women screenings of Wonder Woman, or disrupting a Shakespeare play over its depiction of the murder of Julius Caesar.
I see that this is the Trump superfan approach to trying to smear Kehinde Wiley — seemingly unaware that it’s just a modern take on a very famous painting. *yawn* https://t.co/2pSEoqckii https://t.co/5BzyUYgOCC— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) February 12, 2018
(Remember when they threw a tantrum because of Shakespeare?)— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) February 12, 2018
This is clearly pretty coordinated, probably hoping to get mainstream media outlets to give them the same treatment they got for their dumb Shakespeare stunt. pic.twitter.com/3PsWUkiC0k
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) February 12, 2018
Reminder that their arguments about being shocked and offended are almost always made in bad faith.— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) February 12, 2018