Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 10, 2015

Trump and “The Scream.” The (Visual) Backlash Begins?

Donald Trump supporter at a campaign rally held in the Robarts Arena, Sarasota, Fla. Nov. 28, 2015.

After its flattering August cover shoot of Trump with an American eagle, TIME just released a less flattering GIF of the Donald being freaked by the bird. Having had his run of cable land, Morning Joe just punished Trump for a filibuster by cutting to a commercial. With Trump and his hate speech having finally gone too far, the evolving media consensus (if just the new pc) is that mogul is due for a taste of his own medicine.

Not that there hasn’t been plenty of less-than-flattering news images of Trump since the campaign got rolling. As I wrote at the beginning of the season, though, mockery has become an all-too-standard visual go-to. What I was actually excited to see at the start of Campaign ’16 — before Trump turned into an entertainment — was a more serious form of visual critique. If the overall 21 photo slideshow at TIME by photojournalist and fashion photographer Landon Nordeman continues to blur that line and dishing out plenty of ridicule, there are photos there that are more truth-telling than mocking, more hard-hitting than spiteful. That’s the stuff we should expect from photographers to lay Trump bare.

That said, shining a harder light on Trump in no way precludes satire as a delivery vehicle. With apologies to Munch, Nordeman’s image above might be the shot of the season. Trump’s entrenchment in Campaign ’16 and the hate he continues to stoke in the culture is every bit “The Scream.”

An audience member reacts to getting an autograph from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump following his rally in Sarasota, Fla. Nov. 28, 2015.

As much as Nordeman shoots fashion, I’m not surprised this caught eye. Attractive as this woman is — with her eyes closed, her mouth open and wide, her hand so glued to our man that her jeweled band and sunglasses seem shared, and with more women lined up besides, this sets up Trump as an object of desire, as the man of every woman’s dreams.

The Donald as a love fantasy? Trump’s oblique angle and the difficulty telling where he’s even focusing speaks to the idolatry as oddly misplaced. (The fringe of suits and the scruffy beard guy gets at that too.) The fact Trump surrounds himself with beautiful women in his personal life but, on the campaign, has repeatedly demonstrated a misogynist streak only heightens the disconnect.

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Here, Nordeman offers an unvarnished look at Trump’s brass knuckles, the muscle behind the curtain. Like skinheads, these are the guys who have been tossing out reporters and roughing up or just dragging away protesters. Beyond the quaint red hat that the mogul fits in place, the accent that makes him red, white and blue, everything else about Trump and his proxies is pretty black-and-white (or, black-and-blue.) And if you compare the eyes, the glare captures the true face of the Trump campaign — of viciousness and paranoia.

If the visual media is aiming to take a harder look at this man, mockery only plays his game. Surely, there’s plenty to see around the scream.

(photos: Landon Nordeman for TIME. caption: Donald Trump supporter at a campaign rally held in the Robarts Arena, Sarasota, Fla. Nov. 28, 2015. caption 2: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump backstage at a campaign rally in Sarasota, Fla. Nov. 28, 2015. caption 3: An audience member reacts to getting an autograph from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump following his rally in Sarasota, Fla. Nov. 28, 2015.)

 

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