Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
June 26, 2009

"The Man in the Painting"

Jackson Obama.jpg

I’ve seen this photo, or a variation of it, on a half-dozen sites now. TIME’s version is titled “The Man in the Painting” and the caption reads:

An Indonesian painter puts out a painting of the late U.S. pop star Michael Jackson in front of his booth for sale on the street in Jakarta.

Being at an utter loss when it comes to Indonesian taste for personalities (compounded by ignorance as to who this painter’s target audience is or even who exactly occupies the other frames), the photo certainly addresses the complex chemistry between politics and popular cultural. The obvious inclination here is to assume that Michael Jackson, in his death, has become a powerfully nostalgic goodwill export, one even capable of stealing some glow away from the man in the beard.

On a strictly Western media note, by the way, if no photo caption I saw identified OBL … certainly the image would not have circulated as widely without him.

(from TIME slideshow: The World Mourns Michael Jackson)

(image Adi Weda/EPA Nextback)

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