Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
October 6, 2008

Harsher Focus

Palin Florida

What goes around comes around?

A BAGreader wrote me recently about a shot of Palin in the Guardian.  He thought the picture — run last Tuesday, but photographed two weeks ago at the Clinton Global Forum the morning after McCain supposedly suspended his campaign — made Palin look “older, more heavily made up and evil.”  (The Guardian piece, by the way, dealt with Palin, global warming and removal of protection for polar bears.)

Although the take raised some curiosity, I’ve see more to it since the Veep debate.  If Palin has taken maximum advantage of adorableness, her new incarnation as full-fledged pit bull, and her specific mission to slander Obama, does appear to be shifting the way visual media is responding.  It’s as if her nastier focus is bringing out something of the same in the shooter’s lens.

Take the shot above, for example, accompanying a stark write-up this morning on WAPO’s campaign blog.  (The piece, “In Fla., Palin Goes for the Rough Stuff as Audience Boos Obama,” elaborates how Palin continues to associate Obama with domestic terrorism.)

In terms of the propaganda trappings, notice how the flag is enormous and blanketing, as if equal in scale to Palin’s exploitation of it.  Also, the “America First” slogan, which grows more racist by-the-day in context with the “Obama as terrorist sympathizer” charge, is cut off to simply read “FIRST,” reflective of Palin’s role on the GOP ticket, and how Palin encourages audiences to think about themselves in light of her scare tactics.  (All on it’s own, by the way, the lilly white blouse is quite a touch, pulling for purity, both morally and racially.)

Let’s concentrate on what else the camera is doing, however, to counteract the manufacture of hate.  From the low angle, we see more wrinkles than usual, challenging Palin’s advertised picture-perfect surface.  Given the effect of the wind, the image shows Palin, as she delivers the hate, as someone somewhat disheveled.  And then, the light reveals Palin as so heavily made up, she almost looks like a younger Leona Helmsley.  The visual push back here offers up Palin, with her matter-of-fact gesture, as coming from someone so waxy and artificial as to be held up as phony.

(h/t Mark)

(image: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press. Oct. 6, 2008 in Clearwater, FL)

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