October 31, 2008

God, Obama

image: Jeff Reidel. men.style.com. August 28, 2008. Denver, CO

My God that’s some shot, right?

Given the likelihood of an Obama administration, it’s not too early to target how BHO will be framed through spoken, written and visual language. In particular, each of us should be calling out media images that do little more than perpetuate stereotypes and reinforce fear- and hate-base fantasies of the opposition attack machine.

As Obama closes in on the Oval Office, a theme that has already been absorbed into the media mind is the McCain campaign’s “messiah” attack (launched by Team McCain’s “The One” ad). While raising anxieties about a President Obama’s exercise of power, framing Obama as an aspiring deity also works like a red cape in the face of the Christian right by flaunting the notion Obama somehow sees himself as a God, God himself, or, the son of God.

Take a look, for example, at photographer Jeff Reidel’s parting shot in GQ’s recent and mostly-cynical photographic portfolio of the campaign. In the photo, we see Obama seeming to recognize and receive the heavenly light of a (pro-American) deity. It’s the virtue of that connection which seems to bestow on Obama a “chosen” status as standing for the earth-bound flag.

Over at Huffington Post, I highlight another example with this same write-up, a shot of Obama accompanying a Thursday AFP story about his transition plans. In it, we see the sun playing like a symbol of the divine. With the candidate in silhouette, the theological allusion suggests Obama harnessing an orb of divine light in his hand while delivering a gesture reminiscent of Jesus giving a blessing or sign of divine mercy.

Say hallelujah if Obama scores a victory on Tuesday. But be careful not to say it too loud, because the right, abetted by the media, is already working those halos, rainbows, streaming rays and reflected beams to suggest that Obama — this vanity worshiper, this black Jesus — has bumped his pay grade to the golden realm.

(image: Jeff Reidel. men.style.com. August 28, 2008. Denver, CO.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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