Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 5, 2017

Donald Meets Mad Ave in the First Trump Super Bowl

“Give me a T! Give me an R!”

All I can say is that the photos of Trump and Melania at his Palm Beach golf club Super Bowl  party were appropriately cheesy. I especially liked this one, for the man who needs constant adulation. What Melania might be thinking is another thing entirely.

Here is Trump during the game sitting at a table with the Priebus family. Typical of the White House, attention is thoroughly divided. Also typical of many pictures of Donald and Melania (and the subject of my post for CJR last Thursday), the first couple do not appear on the same page. I’m also wondering who Trump is giving the thumbs up to. If it’s the media, it’s still another demonstration of that pervasive self-consciousness.

I’m more interested in the Super Bowl ads, though, and how they channel (or defy) the Trump mindset. I’ve mostly focused on politics, but I’m always concerned how consumer culture dominates western democracy.

My ad survey, by the way, a mixture of screenshots and tweets, is a random one.

The 84 Lumber ad got a lot of attention for defending Hispanic immigration. The story is that FOX, which broadcast the game, refused to run a version of the ad which showed a wall. The full version, in fact, goes there:

Super Bowl ad for 84 Lumber takes on Trump's plans for a border wall. Super Bowl ad for 84 Lumber takes on Trump's plans for a border wall.

And wonders of wonders, lumber from the sponsor, as well as Hispanic labor, created a door in it.

Lady Gaga for Tiffany. Super Bowl ad opening screen.

Lady Gaga Super Bowl Tiffany ad.

All I can say is, this ad was very disappointing. And defensive. And hypocritical. If Lady Gaga is such a fierce activist, why does this remind me of Ivanka?

As hard as the 84 Lumber ad pushed on the border wall and Hispanic immigration, an Expedia ad flew in the face of Trump’s xenophobia, and the Muslim ban.  The ad is called “Train.”

Some of the highlights:

Screen shot from "Train," 2017 Expedia ad. Shown during Super Bowl. Ad is a response to Trump administration and a rejoinder to Muslim travel ban.

More overcoming walls and fences.

Screen shot from "Train," 2017 Expedia ad. Shown during Super Bowl. Ad is a response to Trump administration and a rejoinder to Muslim travel ban.

Love knows no borders.

Screen shot from "Train," 2017 Expedia ad. Shown during Super Bowl. Ad is a response to Trump administration and a rejoinder to Muslim travel ban.

The ad takes issue, too, with Muslim ostracization…

Screen shot from "Train," 2017 Expedia ad. Shown during Super Bowl. Ad is a response to Trump administration and a rejoinder to Muslim travel ban.

and Palestinian check points.

Screen shot from "Train," 2017 Expedia ad. Shown during Super Bowl. Ad is a response to Trump administration and a rejoinder to Muslim travel ban.

Finally, the point here — and it’s a critical one — is that the Syrian war and the immigrant crisis, especially in the Muslim world, is something to confront, not to run from.

The bottom line? Catering to the rich and the manipulation of politics as a profit motive is the American way. There is spectrum, though, especially in the age of Trump. More and more, corporations are coming to appreciate how much prosperity is tied to humanism and the common good.

(photo 1 & 2: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images. caption 1: US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump watch the Palm Beach Central High School marching band perform as it greets them upon arrival to watch the Super Bowl at Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 5, 2017. caption 2: US President Donald Trump watches the Super Bowl with First Lady Melania Trump (R) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (L) at Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 5, 2017.)

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