Graham Drew: Postcard from Malaysia

Graham Drew.jpgGraham Drew (pictured) is Executive Creative Director at Grey Group Malaysia, here's his take on Henry VIII meeting Melania Trump.

Melania, meet Henry
Everyone knows Henry VIII, the epic king who ate, drank and bedded a swathe across Sixteenth century England.

He snubbed his nose at the Vatican and even changed the law so that he could marry again and again. What a swordsman. Glory at his stout and mighty frame in Holbein's world famous portrait. Legs spread wide and the shoulders of a quarterback, the pose of a warrior or a wrestler, cower in envy at the mighty codpiece.

henry Vii - Wikipedia.jpegWhat a legend.
That's exactly what it is, legend. Truth is, he was in his forties and had been badly injured earlier in the year. He was also already suffering serious health problems, with a withered and infected leg, his frame was greatly diminished from the proud warrior we see.

But Henry saw the propaganda power of an image and encouraged other artists to copy it, nobles even commissioned their own copies to show their loyalty to him. Good ol' Henry, emboldened by this new propaganda, went on to become what many consider as the bloodiest monarch in English history, beheading for fun and taking the country to many an ego driven war. Today, it's the picture we all remember.  The truth is irrelevant.

Melania.jpgNow behold the equally impressive Melania.

She doesn't need Holbein, she's got photoshop.  

Lots has been said about the shadowy puppet masters that control our news feeds and manipulate what we see - all of which is true and scary. Yet it's nothing new - it's just that the paintbrushes have been swapped with algorithms.

Melania's hubby may have made 'Fake News' famous, but fake news itself is as old as history, we've always done it. What's different is that the speed and control of that news is now in the hands of the many instead of the few.

In Henry's day nobody would have had the balls to call b*llshit on his portrait (if they did those balls would soon be in Henry's dog bowl). Yet with Melania - it took approximately 5 miliseconds for the memes to begin.


Mr and Mrs Trump are the biggest meme generators the world has ever seen - they kick Kim's ass into orbit. But while we are all getting depressed by their seemingly unstoppable train of populism - their constant attempts to paint their own portraits of propaganda - the memes, they give us all a glimmer of hope. They are stupid, funny, mad - but they are sharable as hell and a vital challenge to the status quo.

When the fakeness or validity of 'news' is harder to fathom than ever before, because of the sheer volume of it, the ability to challenge these 'truths' has also never been easier, or more important.  Because when perception is real, the truth is irrelevant. 

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1 Comments

Nugroho Nurarifin said:

Nice insight Graham!
Faking things might be inherently human.

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