Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 26, 2006

(Oops, Sorry. I Must Be In The Wrong Place. I Thought This Was The Trailer For The New "Miami Vice" Movie.)



Okay, now I’m convinced the NYT bleeds elephant red.

Even if today’s NYT Mag profile of Maryland’s GOP Senatorial candidate isn’t completely flattering, why does it feel like we are somehow supposed to be fascinated with this guy? Why, especially given these shots, should it seem like the coolest, most obvious choice for the job is Maryland’s Michael Steele?

So Steele’s friend warns him not to become an “outreach” pawn (which the author of the article, Michael Sokolove, explains is an African-American used by Republicans to expand their voting pool). Steele claims he’s not, but the Lieutenant Governor (whose job is largely ceremonial) can barely explain what it is he stands for. Also lacking in political instinct, Steele essentially confirms that he got roped into running by Rove, Bush and Cheney.

But where the article really gets strange is with these visuals.

The shots look more like promo pics for a fast-paced, high contrast, high attitude action thriller.  (As if Quentin Tarantino did the remake of Miami Vice.) Look, there’s Detective Michael (“Man Of”) Steele now! He’s tall. He’s bad. He’s on the move. He’s always smack in the middle. He can crack a case just by crossing his arms.

If the top shot would be great for an opening sequence, the next one would be a great set-up scene. I mean, this has plot written all over it.  And atmosphere? Just check out that saturated blue sky; those leopard spots; the walrus-like mustache, white suit and sun glasses; and the local Mayor with the shimmery tie and that stoic been a regular on this show since before you were born look to him.

But I’m not just being fanciful here. It’s one thing to visually pitch this charming, yet inexperienced and out-of-touch guy in cinematic terms. It’s completely another to instill his rudimentary campaign with a hint of the inevitable.

(image 1 — full size. Image 2 — full size)

(image: Justin Steele (any relation???) for The New York Times. March 21, 2006. Caption for image 2: With J. Michael Downes, New Carrollton’s city administrative officer, Mayor Hanko and Audrey Scott, Maryland’s secretary of planning.)

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