The sole of dissent

An Iraqi journalist’s shoe-throwing attack on President George W. Bush inspires several online games.

Political leaders have long had to live with the occasional mistreatment of their effigies that often involve ropes or fires at the scene of public demonstrations. Now, protesters in the online world have a new instrument of humiliation — the shoe.

An Iraqi journalist’s shoe-throwing attack on President George W. Bush during a December press conference quickly inspired several online games in which a participant could aim a virtual shoe at the president. One, created by a British student, is called “Sock and Awe.” Another, courtesy of a Spanish branch of the advertising company M&C Saatchi, started as an online Christmas card sent to about 500 people.

Meanwhile, Bush isn’t the only leader whose avatar has to duck size 10Cs. A Bosnian Web site has a game where visitors get to lob footwear at Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik. It’s good thing for Imelda Marcos and her 2,700 pairs of shoes that she’s no longer in power in the Philippines.

You could argue that this type of activity is in questionable taste — shoe-throwing is a serious insult in some cultures. However, now that the tossing’s caught on, it’s only a matter of time before it fades away. Meanwhile, considering the digital possibilities, it’s comparatively good clean fun.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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