July 17, 2005

Heart of Stone


If it’s last show didn’t create enough controversy, the insidious but generically named "Family Research Council" is now preparing another mediathon.  From the BAG’s perspective, it is interesting to tease apart the organization’s visual propaganda.  Although this poster doesn’t trouble me as much as the last (Spoil the Rod and Spare the Child – link) , it still plays off highly loaded symbols with extreme bias.

In this latest poster, it appears the Supreme Court is physically bearing down on the Constitution.  (The suggestion carries more impact with the presence of the Ten Commandments, and the universal story they were being crushed by people who thought they knew better.) 

The poster does a simple but clever job of prioritizing the relative importance of these institutions.  The Ten Commandments are placed in the foreground, superseding the Constitution.  Given the perspective, however, the Supreme Court seems to be "falling away" from the Constitution and the tablets, and that the Court is also "looking down" on the Constitution, as if the Court fancied itself as the temple on Mount Olympus with the justices holding themselves up as (false) gods.  In any case, the Court is represented as the institution (in comparison to the other two)  where authority and justice is most slanted. 

Finally, the way the tablets are colored and shaped is also clever.  The fact they are black-and-white and elongated seems to reinforce their ultimate jurisdiction.  (The stylish elongation, along with the oversized lettering, seems to also give them both a more contemporary and friendlier look.)  The move I like best, however, involves the way the tablets (taken together) seem to form a heart shape, which makes an interesting juxtaposition in comparison to the also authoritative, but more Vader-ish impression of the court house.

(image: Family Research Council)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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