July 25, 2012

The "Latest" Assad Family Photographs

I had a couple thoughts on the meager group of Assad family photos that just happened to show up in the media this week. According to the Telegraph story accompanying the slideshow, the photos:

“…from Mrs Assad’s private collection, were handed to a foreign friend in Damascus before the uprising started in the spring of last year. They are believed to have been taken between five and seven years ago in Syria, probably by a professional photographer, and appear intended to portray the family as happy, normal and modern. Their cosy intimacy looks too natural to be have been staged.

My takes:

1. I don’t know what the Guardian means by “too natural to have been staged.” Yes, these are family photos, but family photos taken by professional photographers of people living in the public eye are inherently “stagey.” It’s not any different with the Obamas.


2. What surprises me just a little bit is just how tone deaf several of the pictures are, especially the one from the children’s birthday party (leading this post). The fact it’s so similar to the photo directly above that ran in now-infamous Vogue “Asma: Rose in the Desert” article that turned Mrs. Assad into an international laughing stock highlights how out-of-touch the Assads are, especially in light of Asma’s Western upbringing.  Another point, too: the fact we get “fresh” photos that are five to seven years old and show their kids as toddlers or infants, beyond desperate, is just silly.NewImage

If you look at the just-released party photo; the one from the Vogue article, and this one as well,  you’ll not just notice the toys, but that they represent the most popular and well-known Western brands, including Disney, Play-Doh and Lego. (I know Lego isn’t American, but it’s huge in the States.) Along with all other the PR activity, including Asma’s engagement with Western fashion design and fashion magazines, and the European travel over the past ten years, it illustrates how much Asma has sought, and somehow still seeks Western approval. (……By the way, you wouldn’t think that had anything to do with her sporting that Lego container in that shot for Vogue, would you?)

Asma Assad ATV

3. This photo of Asma, all too reminiscent of Sarah Conner, makes me think about who really has the power in the relationship. Then, talk about expensive toys!


4. Only a half-hearted attempt was made, with this edit, to look like the folks next door. Like the Romneys, perhaps the Assads don’t get the difference?  Whereas the close-up shots — the photo with the soccer ball or maybe the photo on the balcony — seem pedestrian enough, do the Assad’s really expect people are going to look at these photos set against resort landscapes or on a private jet and see only domestic bliss?

Telegraph’s 14 photo slideshow here.

(photos 1, 3 -5 Camera Press via Telegraph. photo 2: James Nachtwey for Vogue)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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