Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 14, 2005

Finding The Love In Crawford

Robertsportrait  Cindyhatportrait

How is it that one person can virtually starve the camera while another can practically nurture it? 

If you read the Drudge Report, you’ll notice the site is scrupulously partisan in its selection of photos.  (See my post at The Agonist last Friday regarding Drudge Report’s Cindy Sheehan coverage.)  As a result, I really thought hard about why they chose this particular shot of Roberts.  My best guess is because John Boy is not wearing his jacket.  For a guy as rigid as Roberts (with a range of about three expressions; minimal eye contact with the camera; and very constricted body language), my sense is that Drudge was just attempting to highlight the smallest suggestion of personality.

In contrast to Roberts, the images of Cindy Sheehan seem to become more familiar and  expressive. Now, there are any number of ways that Cindy could independently exhaust her media welcome (or the right wing could figure out a way to swiftboat her).  Until that point however, Cindy continues to reveal different sides of herself, different sets of complex feelings and emotions, and she does so — and this is what I find remarkable for the amount of attention she is now attracting — with relatively little self-consciousness.

It is this lack of self-consciousness which is causing the real damage to Bush. 

Of course, the camera loves Dubya also.  But in his case, what it loves is the role playing, with all its dramatic effect.  Literally, Bush doesn’t show his face in public unless and until a stage is set and all his props are in place.  To the extent the camera is given a character with a halfway plausible story line (the avenger, the cowboy, the self-effacing underdog, the missionary), it falls for it. 

Cindyhug2  Bushlejeune198

What Cindy does, however, is reveal Bush as an actor — and a weakly empathic one. 

If you’re cast as the tough guy, it goes against type to really feel another’s pain.  That doesn’t preclude, however, that one might play a bigger role.  To do so, however, Bush would have to drop the bravado and the pervasive scripting in favor of a more genuine way of being. 

Unfortunately, the man is so tight, sensitive to slight and intolerant of weakness, he could never give in to it. 

(image credits to follow)

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