June 29, 2012

What Does Madonna's Daughter in Cone Bra Have to do with CNN, FOX Bad SCOTUS Call?

Madonna daughter cone bra

Granted, the presence of the internet makes it a bit more complicated these days…


Two points about traditional media and social media played large yesterday in the messy SCOTUS Obamacare announcement.

First, traditional media’s authority continues to erode in the face of the near-instant and often dead-on critique emerging consistently now from the social media’s collective mind. Second, social media, in critiquing and opining on news imagery, is largely delivering that critique non-verbally by appropriating and reformulating traditional media’s own images.


Example 1 (which everybody who follows politics, and all their mothers, saw yesterday):

Barely two hours after FOX and CNN blew the results of the Court’s decision on healthcare…


this brilliant non-verbal commentary showed up that not only nailed the gaffe by way of iconic visual analogy but also captured the magnitude of the decision by likening it to a presidential election outcome.

TIME Cover The Decider

Example 2: In the shockwave generated by the fact Chief Justice Roberts aligned with the liberal side, photographer Chip Somodevilla used a simple Instagram image to re-interprete and send-up the TIME cover above published ten days ago enshrining Justice Kennedy as the court’s critical swing vote.

The Decider TIME cover Somodevilla Instagram

Notice how the cell phone/Instagram effect tinges the photo in a way that invests it with irony. Chip finished it off this way with just the slightest textual touch:

somophoto: Perhaps not really The Decider

And what does Madonna’s daughter have to do with the CNN and FOX SCOTUS blown call?

The TwitPic that rocked the entertainment world yesterday highlights the artifice and false authority of the traditional media and what can happen in an instant when someone just clever enough deigns to burst that bubble via social media. (In this instance, too, notice the use of source imagery, visual props and visual analogies to undermine the reality and “personality construction” perpetuated by “the last word in image-making,” the PR industry, as abetted by corporate media.)

Using parody (and her own youth and sexuality) to mock her mother’s brand, Lourdes Ciccone Leon not only torpedoes Madonna’s agelessness, a central and key “suspension of reality” behind the Madonna mystique, but by mocking the famous outfit, she also calls out Madonna’s cheap sexual shtick as enabled by Jean Paul Gaultier, who built the housing. And all that happened just by climbing into that cone bra outfit, playing up the nasty, then hitting “send” – things helped along, of course, in posting the shot to the Material Girl twitter feed).

Finally, I have to share this priceless photo:


According to the caption, what we see are reporters running with the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision to file stories. In a day and age where news and news pixels as well as the response to news and news pixels is moving at the speed of light, this ritual looks not only quaint and antiquated, but serves to embody the gap between old media and new.

Note:  Many of the ideas here are described more fully in my Photoville talk on the “State of the News Photo.” I’ll be posting the talk in a series of posts after the 4th of July holiday.

(Post revised 8:50 am PST for clarity.)

(photo 1: Twitter/@MaterialGirl. image 2: CNN.com. image 3: Gary He/yfrog. image 4: TIME.com – no photo credit. image 5: Chip Somodevilla/Instagram. photo 6: Mark Wilson/Getty Images. caption: Reporters run with the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision on June 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court upheld President Obamas health care overhaul, in a victory for the president and Congressional Democrats.)

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Michael Shaw
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