December 1, 2005

"Victory Plan" Theatre


As I’ve said before, I think the visual coverage of the White House has begun to incorporate the idea that the Bush Administration is a sitcom.

Of course, Bush’s plan in search of a plan; the “Victory” branding (including the neurolinguistic tactic of positioning “victory” as the opposite of “exit strategy”); and the imperial backdrop in Annapolis (including the ” Plan For Victory” term 15 times over) are all so “over the top” that the whole Iraq re-re-repositioning here more than overdoses on it’s own.

Still, I especially admired two images yesterday which more subliminally conveyed that things don’t add up.


The more you absorb this image by Jonathan Ernst, what stands out is the photographer passing in front of the stage, and the there, but-not-there camera man in the foreground.  (And don’t forget the photographer stage left shooting Bush from below.)  The message? It’s a show, baby, pure show.


And then there was this shot by Paul J. Richards.  Just fabulous!  (If you were expecting the pic showing the cadets sleeping in their seats waiting for Bush to finally arrive, you won’t find it here.  Way too obvious, way way too obvious.)

But this!  Someone please argue with me that this photo is “straight up” — meaning strictly laudatory.  Because it does read straight up; these kids are worshipful.

At the same time, however (and that’s what makes for great irony), this photo is a complete hoot.  The three heads just below the curtain (as if the stage was in front of us, not behind) is straight out of Python.  The guy in the middle?  Yeah, he’s transfixed.  But the stare is “over the top” again.  And the guy at the far right?  Even if it’s really not, that surely is a skeptical eye.  And what’s with the symmetrical one- eyed business at the edges, anyway?  That’s funny.  Just like those two heads framing the crazy Tom Cruise-guy in the center are funny — especially the crew cut one.

I can’t imagine what could be left by the time we get to Bush’s last year.  Can a person actually become a caricature of a caricature of himself?

(image 1: Chris Gardner/A.P.  November 30, 2005. Annapolis, Md. Via YahooNews.  image 2: .Jason Reed/Reuters. November 30, 2005. Annapolis, Md. Via YahooNews.  image 3: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters. November 30, 2005. Annapolis, Md. Via YahooNews.  image 4:  Paul J. Richards/AFP. November 30, 2005. Annapolis, Md. Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
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