Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 9, 2006

Giving You The Creeps

Bush-Neoculpa-

Cheney-Leibovitz

Rice-Leibovitz

My dream, immediately following the election, was that I would never have to mention George Bush again.

…Then I woke up.

The thing is, if Bush thought he was showing badly last week, he'd better strap himself in.  Yeah, he built a tiny little buffer by offing Rumsfeld, and yeah, he and Rove are working frantically to appear calm while, at the same time, double-sealing every act and statement in the unfamiliar, distasteful and gushy lubricant of bipartisanship.

But, what I'm not sure he understands is that he's never going to be not seen again.

For both preview and example of what I'm talking about, consider the much discussed Vanity Fair article, Neo Culpa, that came out just before the election.  Almost every word of text has already been profusely cited in the 'sphere for the fact that several neocons, like rats leaping for life boats, unloaded on the Administration just before the roof caved in.

About the only aspect of the article I didn't see mentioned, in fact, were the photos by Annie Leibovitz.

Not until recently — not until it was practically even money that the wheels might come off — did the visual media even venture a less intimidated look at the Bush/Cheney, Cheney/Bush cabal.  And then, what we were mostly fed were images framing embarrassing moments (like Bush's note to Rice at the U.N. asking to use the bathroom), or pics that made Bush look goofy, the examples of which are too numerous to mention.

With the Administration's trashing on Tuesday, however, the visual media acquired not just the license, but the bursting requirement to see these people for who they are.  (Not to mention, who they have been all along.)

For six years, "the bubble" was the appropriate metaphor to describe the hermetic isolation of an Administration that refused to be seen.  Its revision — and a taste of the ensuing candor — comes from these shots through the fish eye.

Thankfully and, yes, mercifully, it was the electorate that finally stripped (also striped?) the Administration for its incompetence.  Complementing the act,  the fish eye view signifies the fish bowl — which is exactly where Bush, Cheney, Rice and the others will be living for the next two years.  (Notice how Dick got the most extreme treatment, being the one who needs the most catching up.)

If, over these past six years, there had been more reality, more courage (and less corporatism), more opposition, more collective incentive to look, there wouldn't have grown such a gap between who we've been looking at and who we see above.  What is so convulsive and breathtaking about this election however, is how instantaneously it closed that gap.

It's in the readjustment that the exaggeration occurs, as if Vanity Fair had the thought to morph Annie Leibovitz with Diane Arbus.  In the process, it's not that that the "folks" in control of your government have been turned into freaks.  It's only that they have been exposed as creeps.

Powerful political images — especially in changing times — offer a kaleidoscope of meaning.  As always, I welcome the readership — new, recent and well-at-home — to weigh in on these fascinating shots.

(images: Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair. November 3, 2006. vf.com)

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