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Right Outraged Over White House Hedda Lettuce Christmas Tree Ornament

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Dec 23, 2009
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Showing that they are not out of step with mainstream America after all, the extreme right wing has shifted its focus from health care reform and taxes to raise the alarm about a menace that lurks even now in the White House: Christmas tree ornaments that sport the likenesses of Mao Tse-tung and drag performer Hedda Lettuce.

People and groups from around the country submitted the tree’s decorations, and the tree, along with the rest of the White House’s decorations, supervised by England-born Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barney’s department store in New York.

Right wing site Big Government noted in a Dec. 22 posting that Doonan’s designs have rankled the right on previous occasions, as when he created a Christmas window display depicting Margaret Thatcher as "a dowdy dominatrix" and former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle as "a ventriloquist’s dummy."

The posting included a series of photographs of various ornaments that are visible on the White House tree. "Of course, Mao has his place in the White House," read text accompanying a photo of an ornament decoupaged with, among other things, a bright yellow image of the Chinese communist dictator.

"And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without an ornament of legendary transvestite Hedda Lettuce," the text added, showing another decoupaged bulb that sported the face of the drag entertainer amongst a number of rainbows. A second photo of the same bulb sought to show where Hedda Lettuce had personalized the ornament with a written message. "He/She even signed it," read the text.

The site also posted a photo showing an ornament on which Obama’s face was seemingly pasted over a photo of Mt. Rushmore.

At right wing chat site FreeRepublic.com, where news featuring even a hint of gay content is often posted for the delectation of participants, the ornaments were seized upon as proof that "This administration is the definition of obscenity."

The individual who posted that sentiment said, "No Christmas is complete without an atheist Communist tyrant decorating the tree."

Wrote another, "Well...I guess it could be worse.At least there’s not a baby Obama in the whitehouse nativity scene.(Yet)."

"The White House will have to be fumigated when these two a’holes leave (in 2012!) " posted another chat participant.

"The left’s beloved Mao," posted another, proceeding to include a bit of verse.

"Mao’s tactics were very simple:
The enemy advances, we retreat.
The enemy camps, we harass.
The enemy tires, we attack.
The enemy retreats, we pursue."

Hedda Lettuce also blogged about the ornament at his site, recounting that, "I was doing some volunteer work with SAGE, at the Gay Community Center in NYC. SAGE is an organization that helps elder gay people by providing them social activities and a community space to hang out with their peers. It was a festive afternoon, for our task of the day was decorating Christmas ornaments for the Presidential tree in the White House. As it turns out, the White House sends ornaments to various organizations, the job is to make them dazzle in hopes that they will be proudly displayed at the big white mansion in our nations capital. So a few of us gathered around pots of glue, brushes and torn paper to decoupage the afternoon away. After I was done with my ornament I discreetly signed it-xoxo Hedda Lettuce, let it dry, and then placed in a box to be shipped to Washington. I completely forgot about it until yesterday when I received an excited phone call from Bertis, one of the executives at SAGE:

"’Hedda I just wanted to tell you I was in Washington and there was your ornament, in full view, with your signature, hanging on the tree in the Blue Room. I have posted some pictures of it on Facebook.’"

The White House Christmas tree is set up in the Blue Room. Hedda Lettuce noted the effect this had on the ornament’s appearance: "When I looked at the photo of the ball, it was not my signature green color, it was many shades of blue. Not only was my ball hanging in the White House, my blue ball is hanging in the White House.

"I may never get equal rights, I may never be blond and pencil thin, I may never see Lady Gaga in concert this winter at Madison Square Garden," continued the openly gay entertainer, whose real name is Steven Polito, "but one of my balls is hanging in the White House with my name for all to see. Just for today that feels a bit better than me having the right to marry."

The ornaments prompted a call to action by right wing "patriots" from the Web site ResistNet.com, which listed the names and contact information of several people at William Morris Endeavor, the agency that represents Doonan. The site encouraged readers to "Let Mr. Doonan hear from you about his offensive ornaments on our nations christmas tree" care of those contacts.

Doonan’s Christmas ornament antics were predicted in a Nov. 30 New York Times article, which reported that the designer had been chosen to decorate the White House this year and, given Doonan’s past design flourishes, foresaw that "mistletoe mischief" would be afoot.

"Mr. Doonan, the creative director of Barneys New York and a tart-tongued columnist in The New York Observer, was selected several months ago to organize this year’s public displays for the holidays, the Obamas’ first in the White House, according to a person familiar with the planning," the article, written by Eric Wilson, said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2009-12-23 14:55:10

    The extreme right wing should save its scorn for a more worthy target, perhaps obsolete and hateful dogma. Intolerance is so passe! They should lighten up so they can live longer. Oh, wait ...


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-23 18:37:33

    They weren’t outraged for very long, had to hit WalMart for those last minute sacred Christmas gifts (Jonas Brothers CDs going for just $7.99!)


  • Bill Blazak, 2009-12-23 19:47:10

    Right or left, what exactly is the purpose of a Mao Zedung ornament? One of history’s most notrious mass murderers whose policies killed tens of millions with his "Great Leap Forward" and who launched an unncessary civil war inside China itself that destroyed almost the entire community of writers and artists then alive during the "Cultural Revolution," why is this man celebrated by this White House? Surely they don’t have ornaments to Hitler and Stalin, do they? It’s time for the snarkly leftists such as the immature posters above. Study some history, little boys, you won’t be quite so cavalier with your hate speech against those who might object to this insulting gesture.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-23 21:10:42

    BB, maybe instead of instructing others to learn about history, you oughtta learn about art. The Mao pic on the ornament looks to be courtesy of Andy Warhol (who was known to lurk about NYC). Hedda Lettuce is also a NYC figure. And I’ll be gol darned if the designer of the Xmas tree isn’t from NYC. It would therefore seem, for those who can think for themselves, something the religious right is unable to do, the Mao ornament is a nod to Warhol. Now, he may not be art to you (personally, I think he’s overrated), John Tesh’s music I’m sure is art to you, so why don’t you pop in that John Tesh Xmas CD and dream of the 50s...ah, what a decade that was, no?


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 00:10:02

    Seasons greetings! Mao is widely credited with the largest mass murder in history (50 to 75 million). I do not care who created this particular image of him or who put it there. Our President alone is responsible for keeping it on our national Christmas tree. I never cried for my country as I do now, especially due to the comments of those defending him over this.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 01:57:17

    Hey, CPA, don’t you have some tax returns to file? Yep, I’d be angry too, just like you, if I were a CPA.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 01:59:36

    Seasons Greetings Mike! Just like my friend before me, I’d like to reiterate, if I were a CPA, and my guess is, you live in Wichita...yep, if I were a CPA living in Wichita, I’d be pretty angry too! Oh, if only we could all be dumb, close-minded and pale like you! Oh dear, I can only dream.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 06:13:33

    It’s pretty funny how some of the "tolerant" people making comments aren’t being tolerant with thier comments. These people have opinions to share just like the rest of you so why don’t you STFU and comment about the article instead. I would like to know how much this cost the American taxpayer.


  • Bill Blazak, 2009-12-24 09:00:35

    Notwithstanding the ugly hate speech of the left so pusillanimously exhibited by our brave Anonymous posters, it is good for young homosexuals to learn that there are huge numbers of us who enjoy being gay and are not left wing demogogues and intolerant snarky elitist half-educated twinkies! Merry Christmas to all, and you little left wings bitches, may you truly learn the meaning of the word "diversity" in 2010.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 11:53:34

    The portrait of Mao was done by Andy Warhol, an AMERICAN artist. The White House is finally trying to represent all of the American people, instead of just the ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of a Jewish Zombie. Yes, I am a "real American". Born and raised here. Our founding fathers came here to escape religious persecution. Not to start a Christian country. The Declaration of Independence states, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights". It says, "their creator". NOT ’My creator" or "your creator", it says "THEIR Creator". Meaning whomever THEY as an individual believe is their creator. For an atheist, it could be their parents. Either way, it clearly means that we don’t all have to believe in the same creator. Or it would have said, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by The Holy Trinity with certain unalienable rights" or it would have named some other deity. The founding fathers didn’t name a deity because this country is based on religious freedom. Does everyone get that much?


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 11:55:38

    The portrait of Mao was done by Andy Warhol, an AMERICAN artist. The White House is finally trying to represent all of the American people, instead of just the ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of a Jewish Zombie. Yes, I am a "real American". Born and raised here. Our founding fathers came here to escape religious persecution. Not to start a Christian country. The Declaration of Independence states, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights". It says, "their creator". NOT ’My creator" or "your creator", it says "THEIR Creator". Meaning whomever THEY as an individual believe is their creator. For an atheist, it could be their parents. Either way, it clearly means that we don’t all have to believe in the same creator. Or it would have said, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by The Holy Trinity with certain unalienable rights" or it would have named some other deity. The founding fathers didn’t name a deity because this country is based on religious freedom. Does everyone get that much?


  • Bill Blazak, 2009-12-24 13:29:53

    Teriberi: There are many iconic images among the works of Andy Warhol including wonderful portraits of Marilyn Monroe, a subject who has the added benefit of being both beloved by Americans and someone who was actually banged IN the White House. It is pathetic to try and pretend the specific subject - Mao Zedung, a communist mass murderer and one of those despicable human beings who ever infested the earth - hangs on Barack Obama’s Christmas tree as some innocent representation of Warhol’s best work. Grow up. As to your interpretation of American history and constitutional law, it is jejune at best. The founding fathers were over 100 years distant from those who founded the Plymouth Colony to escape "religious persecution. You trot out the platitudes of high school American history well enough, but you have no idea what you’re talking about. I won’t even attempt to slog through the pile of ignorance that is your knowledge of religion.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 14:02:56

    BB - Obviously you have an overinflated self-image. If you had seen the entire christmas ball, rather than just the one side that faux news wanted you to see, you would realize that it was a decoupage depicting the trials and tribulations of the Chinese people. The christmas balls were sent out to schools and community organizations throughout the country to be decorated by Americans. "Real" Americans. In order to recycle balls that were leftover from other administrations. Also, having grown up and lived in Philadelphia for most of my life, I was surrounded by United States history. Being that Philadelphia was once the capital of this country, and it was where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Independence Hall, not to mention hometown to Benjamin Franklin (who, by the way, was a Wiccan, not at all Christian), Betsy Ross, et al. I believe that reading the Declaration of Independence carefully, you will see that I am correct. They did not name a specific deity because everyone in this country was free to worship their own creator. If the forefathers had intended this to be a theocracy, they surely would have stated that clearly. They were pretty clear about their intentions.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-24 15:06:56

    Where was the outrage when nixon shook Mao’s hand? Where was the the outrage when we gave China preferred nation trader status? Where is the outrage when they continue to poison us with tainted products?


  • Bill Blazak, 2009-12-26 16:50:45

    teriberi: I’m not remotely surprised the Obama administration had to "recycle balls that were leftover from other administrations." It came with none of its own.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-26 18:05:06

    As the only visitor here with an IQ above 180, it is worth but a minute of my time to add to the cacophany of idiocy. Do you people not have lives? Left, right, gay, straight, you all strike me as paradigms of what we mean by "loser." 24,000 kids excreted themselves to death today from starvation and malnutrition, a delightful little 11-year old girl was kidnapped FROM HER BED, raped and murdered on xmas even, and, oh, yes, approx. 428 of 435 legislators continue to prove that they believe themselves entitled to luxuries and care at YOUR expense, and this is the drivel and blatherskite coming from your mouths? Ah, now we know why America is no longer my beacon of goodness and decency. When you toss out EVERY elected person after one or two terms, THEN might we believe you have something cogent to add to a conversation. Balls on an xmas tree enrage and inflate you? My word, what a pitiful lot. The only one of you who made a sensible comment did so with a reference to Mao’s ball representing the challenges of the Chinese people. As you spew out, so shall Newton’s 3rd law return to you. Try thinking bigger and better. Try taking a few empowering actions. You’ll feel sooooooooooo much better.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-26 18:24:24

    Where is the outrage, indeed!!!! China sends us toxic, deadly items, including DEADLY fake proteins in baby formula, building materials that dissolve when made wet, and THIS is what you care about? Sounds like the genius before me hit you right on your pointed, empty heads. Democrats and Republicans prove how empty they are by assigning labels to themselves, as if their parties actually represent real people. What a bunch of chuckleheads


  • Bill Blazak, 2009-12-26 19:53:31

    Faggot, please. No one with an IQ abover 150 would ever bring it up because a) it is vulgar and low class, and b) the measurement of intelligence above a certain point is utterly meaningless, as anyone actually in that stratum would be happy to tell you. That you might possibly have tweaked a Mensa test so that you are now a member and can go to meetings to sit around and feel superior is commentary only on your underdeveloped social skills, not your intelligence.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-26 22:57:01

    1) How delicious. Each of your statements is a reflection of opinion, certainly not one of knowledge. Unless and until you join the ranks of great thinkers, how do you pretned expertise as to our qualities? 2)NEVER brag about something you are born with. My IQ was only 128 at 17, and stayed abou that for 20 years. It is the conscious effort to use every device, supplement, and exercise known to boost the brain that has resulted in the world’s first continually-increasing IQ. Because it is earned, crowing is utterly justified, and inspiring to people who seek the best in themselves and in others. Each week, my work feeds more starving animals and humans than all the folks you know combined in their lifetimes. The greatest part of brilliance is learning the power, the value, and multi-level profit of giving away as much as possible. Take joy in life. Please note the last three sentences of my post, which were phrased so briefly, so succinctly, that even angry folks like you could understand and perhaps pick up from. 4)SUBJECT OF THIS THREAD: To see people majoring in minors this way, caring more about xmas balls than in a group of putative public employees who serve their constituents so poorly. Why did you not respond to the outrage about what China is doing to all of us? Why no outrage that 24,000 kids, and thousands of adults, died while you played with stupid toys exchanged with equally stupid, senseless humans who care more for shoes and perfume than the death of innocent kids. If you’ll grant me permission to slip into the patois of our true literati, the quixotically quirky of our erudite elite, please accept this invitation to return to the coprophilia that sates you best. 0-0 Wise minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, while mediocre minds discuss other people. -- Dare to reach higher. Find something bright within yourself and give it someone of lesser lights, particularly the helpless. In return, you get repaid repeatedly, just as your current misery sent out is bring you misery back in. Try the brighter light approach. You are promised magnificent results!!


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-26 23:00:18

    May my previous (and future) misspellings be forgiven. Better to save time typing at hyperspeed than to risk carefully typing words heeded by none. My bad.


  • Bill Blazak, 2009-12-27 09:00:10

    I see your self-annointed genius does not extend to internet posting, but congratulations on a thorough mastery of sesquipedalian prose.


  • Anonymous, 2009-12-27 10:30:33

    Silly beyond words that refreshing the page to view comments induces a submission repetition of previous post. MANY apologies for the annoyance. Of course, the beauty of genius is the flexibility in recognizing one’s errors with an eye towards correcting them. That said, how about some readers agreeing with the basic thought that getting wrapped up - or tangled up - in xmas balls cheapens our contributions as well as the value of our very presence? - - Is Anyone Looking At The Real Issues? Since my last post, 18,000 more kids are dead of starvation and malnutrition. If the sensitivities of the gay community cannot be tickled, it becomes easier to understand how straight people manage to be fooled so consistently by America’s faux royalty, our corrupt class of politicians. Well, time to return to the world of the few, the caring, the givers. Nice to have tried chatting cogently.


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