August 24, 2008

Powell's Obama Intro: Not From Here


With the convention results a forgone conclusion, Denver is about one thing: framing Obama.

And what makes the assignment particularly interesting — being here in person — is witnessing how much the media’s pictorial distillation of events actually mirrors its own critical sentiment toward Obama or reflects prevailing attack narratives as a counterpoint to the snapshot the campaign is unrolling.

Leading off our coverage, we thought it worthwhile to look at how traditional media is setting the table (or, perhaps, poisoning the well?) heading into the week.

I’m was particularly interested in this illustration accompanying the lead story in Sunday’s NYT Week-In-Review by our friend, Michael Powell (“American Wanderer, in All His Stripes”)I’m curious about the readership’s take on this complex and rather painterly image.  As I read it, it appears to amplify many of the negative memes already in play, particularly Obama as placeless or itinerant, and the sense that Obama is not really knowable (more like a blur).

The treatment of the flag is tricky too.  Besides the idea Obama is not a full-fledged American, it almost subliminally reflects the dual GOP attack lines of Obama the celebrity and Obama as political naif — in other words, that he’s “all star,” but he lacks “the stripes.”

(illustration: Ji Lee/ Caption alert (emphasis mine):  Rootlessness, the label that sticks to stories like Barack Obama’s, is a national trait that both attracts and repels. )

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus