The concept of the faded Obama poster is compelling, especially for what is says about all that youthful energy and creativity crumbling into bitter old age and neglect in some dirty college dorm room, but does it exist? Paul Ryan referred to just such a poster in his Republican National Convention speech when he said, "College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life." The line was so popular a Republican Super PAC has already made an ad based on it. Ryan has even folded it in to his stump speeches.
But the poster is not a Republican concept. President Obama referred to the old poster, too. Way back in June 2011, Obama lamented, "The old posters are all faded... People make fun of hope and change." At a fundraiser in May, he explained, "This is going to be harder than it was the last time—not only because I'm older and grayer and your 'Hope' posters are dog-eared—2008 in some ways was lightning in a bottle."
It's a nice, deft image, but we have yet to find this much talked about poster in the wild. Scouring the internet for neglected Obama posters in kids' bedrooms has yielded few examples. There are probably a couple reasons for that. First, college kids don't live in atriums. There's just not a lot of light to fade their wall art. Second, college kids don't live in the same place four years straight. Third, the freshmen of 2008 graduated in the spring. They're not hanging on to their faded Fight Club posters either.
The Obama poster in its native habitat -- though the youth were being reclusive the moment the photo was taken on January 7, 2009, by randomthursday:
This photo, by gianna.ratto, is from May 5, 2009, and shows the elusive Obama poster in a youth's room. The youth is displaying sadness, maybe, or precious shyness. It's unclear whether the emotion is Obama-related:
Carlos Castro posted this from March 19, 2009, but as you can see, the youth has protected the poster the sunlight by its wall placement and glass. Again, the youth is absent.
We got close with Jory, who posted this July 22, 2009 photo under the headline, "My Obama sticker is fading." A subtle clue to fading hope?
Kaytee Riek posted this food cart from January 22, 2010. The caption reads, "On the left side, I really like the Obama poster. It's all faded compared to the bright colored bags of chips. But it's still there!" Here the youth is displaying a positive emotion related to the fading image.
Mark Wallace posted this, from August 11, 2010. It could be a bedroom window, and it is faded. But it's facing the street, not tormenting the youth inside.
Jordon Cooper, a Canadian youth, posted this photo from September 24, 2010. The poster's colors remain true.
From May 2011, here's the most recent photo we could find of an Obama poster in a youth habitat with a youth present. The photo is by Karina Roberts Photography and the Obama poster can be seen on the wall on our left side. It's black and white, so we can't really tell if it's faded. Based on the potentially staged action, it doesn't look like this youth's room gets lots of light.
If you have a faded Obama poster in your room, please take a photo, preferably with yourself in the frame, looking either disenchanted or fired up and ready to go, and send it our way.
For now, here are the fake youths of Crossroads Generation's ad:
[All images via Flickr]
Update: Reader Ron Bailey sends in his Obama poster. He says, "Dog-eared for sure, but the colors haven't changed any :)"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.