September 22, 2006

A Work In Progress


Williams: You are on the cover of Time magazine here in the United States and around the world. Inside, it says, “A Date with a Dangerous Mind.”  Why do you think they think you have a dangerous mind?  Do you?

Ahmadinejad: You should hear what I have to say, and then be the judge of that. I think that if people have a hard time accepting the logic and fact, they should not actually accuse others. The picture is an attempt to darken my face a lot. I think it actually shows me much younger than what I am. The first page, the cover.

Williams: Oh, the cover?

Ahmadinejad: This one? The cover page. Oh, it’s really…

Williams: You approve?

Ahmadinejad: …questionable. It’s darkened me. And also much — it looks much younger than what I am.

— Brian Williams/Mahmoud Ahmadinejad interview.  Sept. 20, 2006.

Of course it’s darkened you and made you younger, AA.  Because the title (a sickeningly insane, Administration-pandering throwback to Gulf War fever) not only refers to the story inside the mag, but to your photo-illustration.  That war would look like an attack, once again, on a single figure, a cartoon –without regard for a people or country.

Whether intentional or not, this illustration calls up an effect, popular in commercials and films lately, turning actors and settings into their animated equivalents.  The method engages the viewer through its novelty, as well as the task of completing the bridge between the animation and reality inside one’s own head. (I’m assuming the marketing people believe the “fleshing out” also leads to greater story or sales “buy in.”)

It’s telling how Ahmadinejad is no longer real, but isn’t yet a cartoon.  (Only from the neck down is he’s a finished character.)  This suggests two things.  First, in spite of the intense effort to flatten him out, there remains a thoughtful interest in understanding who this guy is, and how much of a threat he might actually represent.  (That may be why his body is converted, but head isn’t there yet.)

Second, it suggests that the job of the Administration — to turn AA into a total cartoon villain — is coming along well, but remains a work in progress.

(hat tip: JR)

(photo-illustration: unattributed.  TIME.  Sep. 25, 2006.  Cover.)

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Michael Shaw
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