Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Does Obama look like Pharaoh?

There have been some rather silly claims out there that Barack Obama looks just like Pharoah a specific Pharaoh, and his Michelle like that Pharaoh's wife, often followed by a comparison (/kvetch) of Obama's policies and those of the Biblical Pharaoh. Here are the images, with the purported resemblances.

Frankly, I think that this comparison is just a little bit racist. Has these statues been made of a lighter material, it is quite possible that people would not be making the comparisons. But more than that, there have been studies suggesting (in terms of eyewitness testimony) that people are better able to distinguish individuals within their own race, and less able to distinguish individuals within other races. This makes sense, since the racial features are more stark, and the thing one would latch on to, as different from those surrounding you. But within your own race, everyone shares these racial features, more or less, and so it is the fine differences that one pays more attention to.

If you see a similarity between Obama and this pharaoh, it is likely because both share African features, since they are both of African descent. But I can look carefully and see clear differences; and I would assume that an African-American would be even more attuned and see even clearer differences.

The other trick is placing them in the same poses and the same expressions, more or less. Given a public figure like Obama, it is fairly easy to go through thousands of photos and find the ones the closest in pose and expression. Kind of like the one with Bush and the monkey expression.


Michael said...

Wasn't Akhenaten the 'Koferdik' Pharaoh who believed in one god Aton, and tried to make a religious reform in Egypt?

joshwaxman said...

yes, more or less.


Anonymous said...

You should see this video where the President himself initiates this when touring the pyramids. It didn't take long until others where associating him as a descendant of King Tut. It's truly rather funny.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Late, late, late.

Posted in June :-)

joshwaxman said...

indeed, i saw it in June, but was waiting for a slow day... :)

cute video, and funny, though i don't think calling attention to exaggerated ears is really noting a historical similarity.

all the best,


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