In choosing the celebrity image as a site of cultural critique I have immediately situated the argument under the banner of subjectivity run amok. In this case the subject is Leonardo DiCaprio, whose presence at the 2014 People’s Climate March had a distorting effect. His celebrity acts as an emissary for American cultural hegemony and political distraction as he becomes the meaning of the event, or rather acts as a force of appropriation. To bring to the surface the imperial-colonial subtext of the photograph I’ve re-mystified the other (two Native Americans beside DiCaprio and one black rallier in the back right), deepening their skin tone to cartoonish effect. This technique, contrasted with DiCaprio’s glow, highlights the celebrity-class’s emissary role, the way they are looked at to guide the presumably voiceless, the politically weak, the colored other, toward a sanctioned salvation. The image critiques popular visual culture’s mission to “humanize the other,” in the words of Allan Sekula, masking overt racism with the covert reifying of white liberalism’s dominance over subaltern, politically minded others.
Clary, Timothy A. (photographer). Us-Climate-Demo. September 21, 2014. AFP/Getty Images. Accessed September 29, 2014, from: http://www.elle.com/pop-culture/best/peoples-climate- march-get-involved-leonardo-dicaprio#slide-2