October 13, 2008

Is Obama's Race Trumping Whatever Else The TIME Cover Is Supposed To Be Trumping?

Time Race

Maybe I’m just skittish because Palin-McCain are playing the terrorist card, but I’ve got all kinds of problems with this.

What I’m specifically wondering is: exactly how does this photo-illustration either convey the economy is trumping race OR worried white voters are turning toward Obama?

If anything, it looks like the cover plays into McCain’s game by showing Obama as two-sided or split and, therefore, not who he seems “on his face.”  (Insult to injury, by the way, it’s not like they haven’t done it before.)

And then, the left half of the cover creeps me out for three reasons.  First, the black-and-white side echoes the feeling of all the old newspaper and FBI mug shot images of Bill Ayers that the media has been all-too-happy to run lately.  Second, the black background with the reversed TIME letters, along with the facial shadows and accentuated facial creases, has a stark, severe and sort of militant feeling to it.  Third, the left half of Obama’s face (if you block the other side with your hand) is much more ominous than the “normal” side.  The eye is longer, narrower, more suspicious; the mouth conveys nothing of the smile; and the contrasted mustache stubble does, in my mind, offer a much more “Obama = Arab” feeling.

Then, look at the text.  The black-and-white Obama is the anchor for “Worried White Voters” and “Obama’s Foreignness” (lest these words even be printed on the cover in the first place) and, what the country might look forward to from blacks if their man loses.  That’s in contrast to voters being “more open” over on the other side.

Am I somehow reading in or particularly missing something here?

(image: Lonnie C. Major/Vistalux.  credit notation reads: “Close-up of Barack Obama’s face.”)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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