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Jul 04, 2005

Dressing Up The 4th


A number of you wrote urging me to post this image.  I thought I would, along with this very incisive description from Eric, a BAGreader and professor:   

[This photo] appeared on the NY Times website front page on July 4th.  The most obvious effect is that of Bush appearing to wear a ridiculously over-sized skirt, banded at the waist with the red stripe.  Note the saggy hello/sieg-heil salute.  But perhaps more interesting is the absence of a right arm, amputated above the elbow.  The flag just behind his right shoulder appears to replace that arm, in some way.  The absence of a human backdrop, save the abbreviated eyes/beret of the soldier to his left, adds to Bush's isolation and weird feminization.  Finally, there is the odd angle, tilting upwards at the old Victorian mansard roof and red brick with elongated windows.  No flag here, like Bush himself, is complete.  The overall effect is of gothic and grotesque judgment.  A brilliant photograph.

Last night I saw David Hare's play "Stuff Happens" about how the Bush administration (in tandem with the Blair government) lead us to war.  I thought the psychological depiction of Bush (played by Keith Carradine) was an interesting one.  While effecting the stubborn stance of a guy who always makes the tough decision, I saw a picture of a man who -- in the face of someone pitching him a strong argument -- seemed less able, then willing to engage.

When it came time to make the tough decisions, it seemed that those with the most proximity (primarily Cheney, and Cheney surrogates Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) won out by appealing to Bush's macho persona and his ideal of decisiveness.   Perhaps the idea of Bush in a dress is so powerful because people intuitively understand that Bush is so pliable.  He has no internal compass -- except the one which functions by default, guided by the Christian coalition and the hawks who have so cleverly "gotten his number."

(Larger image here.  Article link.)

(image: Gerald Herbert/AP in July 4, 2005)


I remember searching in graduate school in Anthropology at Stony Brook University for media studies. I had been involved in them at Buffalo University, in Gerald O'Grady's "Media Center", (in-part w/ Federal funding off-campus, a community center) studying TV commercials, experimental film analysis, (literally how experiments are portrayed in film) and film-making and theory through the English Dept. with Paul Sharits, an experimental film-maker and artist who has a theater named after him at in Buffalo, NY now. Anyway, I was surprised by the lack of studies about the effects of "shots" on children, and this photo reminds me of one that showed a greater effect on children when the adult is filmed from below, an effect of towering over I suppose. I would hope further studies are or have been done. This photo makes the President's hand look larger than his head, which may be prophetic, but then my eyes have been through a lot of close-range photogrammetry.

is that "blood" on the white bandage..err...flag near his missing right arm?

nice catch bag.

This reminds me very much of the Mother Ginger character in the Nutcracker ballet--a woman with an enormous skirt under which is usually hidden all her children.

It seems to me that the function of such a large skirt is, secrecy. Past fashions wanted to hide the female form under hoop skirts--what else can be hidden in such extra large drapery?

Gorgeous George's skirt was made for square dancing. He is twirling in it and reaching out to make some sort of arch for another couple to pass underneath.

This tells me he does not wear the pants in the party, and the fact that his partner is far enough away not to have made it into the frame suggest George is out of step with the real leader or more likely, out of touch with reality....

He's all alone out there, (except for a distant so'jer who must've missed getting sent to Eye-rack) just as he was in that desert shot with the mushroom cloud bush in the background.

Even the flags are drooping with boredom, as he continues to keeps time out loud, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11

Nice petticoat... Bush looks like a member of the DAR.

Wow, he really does look like his mother.

The photographer must have had a big grin when he took this.

Thanks for the inspiration, bemused. Click on home page for comparison.

The patriotic bunting skirt reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara's curtain dress and the ante-bellum south--a subtle appeal to Bush's present constituency?

And our mess in Iraq reminds me of an amusing "Minute Book" published on a cereal box maybe 40 years ago. It condensed "Gone with the Wind" thus:

"There's going to be a war, Scarlett."
"Oh, Fiddle-de-dee!"
"Thank goodness that dreadful war is over!"

Scarlett Bush?

This is what every selected president wears when hoping to re-awaken interest in his man-date.

a "brilliant" photograph ??

more like a cheap trick, imho.

fwiw, i would rather interpret a classic, 80mm Head & Shoulders portrait of President Bush, or an insightful (or even an "official") oil / pastel work by a gifted artist, than this sort of trompe l'oeil.

we might as well trek on over to DailyKOS and talk about the now-famous 'Rove Frog March' photoshop images; after all, what difference does it make where perverse image manipulation takes place ~ in the camera, or in the erstaz darkroom of a personal computer?

Once you start going down this tawdry road, BAGman ~ satire becomes visual pun; your chat room fills up with adolescents; and, if speaking only for myself, it's boring :-/

Ultimately, this seems like the kind of photo that Kerry was getting during the presidential campaign.
Perhaps it reflects a press corps that is finally growing cynical or bored, and is consequently taking these strange photos. (Personally, the black line drawings in the WSJ seem much more appropriate to me.)

There's a whole lot of ambiguity in this photo:
For example, we have Bush raising his left hand, but what is he doing? Is he waving to a crowd? Is he making a roman-style salute with the wrong hand - as suggested? Is he leading (waving forward) a mostly unseen host that is blocked by the bannister behind him (there is one beret showing)? Is he attemting to deflect something that is incoming? Perhaps he is making an obscene gesture in an attempt to offend the Greek constituency?

Similarly, we have the US flag which seems to be cut up all over the image. The flag at the top Center has the dag cut off, and the flag on the left of the photograph is cut at the end. Similarly, the red white and blue bunting is, more or less, a rearranged flag. Is it a reflection of a polarized - ie. seperated country? Does the president only subscribe to a rerangement or subset of the ideals? Alternatively, is he tring to pull things together, and save them from getting cut apart.

That said, I find the composition somewhat odd. The photographer is cutting things off all over to make things work - the soldier on our right, the flags left and top, the building on the right and top, and the bunting in the foreground. Bush is not really centered or balanced with respect to the building. Because the bunting slopes up to the right, and the building slopes down to the right, it suggests that he is being photographed from the left (since the vanishing point is to the right), but, in practice, the shot was almost certainly taken from below and to the right.

He's shrinking every day. Smaller, every day.

wow the world does really seem to be caving in on itself!. Bush is standing in front of Woodburn Hall at WVU. (I imagine because Woodburn is "ivy covered" without being "Ivy League" and because that little quad sits on a little point of land that makes security/access easy to control. Wood burn and the other two buildings in nearby are the oldest at the university and my first college class on a bright Monday morning oh-so-long ago took place in the room right there behind George Bush's skirt. weird

I haven't seen any crowd photos of this event. But since a few here wonder who George Bush was addressing, here a few links to images of the space in front of Woodburn where the event took place. It really is a more restricted space than you would think from the subject photo.

George W. Bush Explained

Folks, I'd like to sing a song about the American Dream. About me. About you. The way our American hearts beat down in the bottom of our chests. About the special feeling we get in the cockles of our hearts, maybe below the cockles, maybe in the sub-cockle area. Maybe in the liver. Maybe in the kidneys. Maybe even in the colon, we don't know.

I'm just a regular Joe with a regular job
I'm your average white suburbanite slob
I like football and porno and books about war
I've got an average house with a nic hardwood floor
My wife and my job, my kids and my car
My feet on my table, and a cuban cigar

But sometimes that just ain't enough to keep a man like me interested
(Oh no) No Way (Uh-uh)
No, I've gotta go out and have fun
At someone else's expense
(Oh yeah) Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

I drive really slow in the ultrafast lane
While people behind me are going insane

I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, such an asshole)

I use public toilets and piss on the seat
I walk around in the summertime saying, "How about this heat?"

I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's the world's biggest asshole)

Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces
While handicapped people make handicapped faces

I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's a real fucking asshole)

Maybe I shouldn't be singing this song
Ranting and raving and carrying on
Maybe they're right when they tell me I'm wrong


I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's the world's biggest asshole)

You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna get myself a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado convertible, hot pink with whaleskin hub caps and all leather cow interior and big brown baby seal eyes for headlights, yeah! And I'm gonna drive around in that baby at 115mph getting one mile per gallon, sucking down quarter pounder cheese burgers from McDonald's in the old-fashioned non-biodegradable styrofoam containers and when I'm done sucking down those grease ball burgers, I'm gonna wipe my mouth with the American flag and then I'm gonna toss the styrofoam container right out the side and there ain't a God damned thing anybody can do about it. YOu know why? Because we got the bombs, that's why.

Two words. Nuclear fucking weapons, okay?! Russia, Germany, Romania - they can have all the Democracy they want. They can have a big democracy cake-walk right through the middle of Tiananmen square and it won't make a lick of difference because we've got the bombs, okay?! John Wayne's not dead - he's frozen. And as soon as we find the cure for cancer we're gonna thaw out the duke and he's gonna be pretty pissed off. You know why? Have you ever taken a cold shower? Well multiple that by 15-million times, that's how pissed off the Duke's gonna be. I'm gonna get the Duke and John Cassavetes...
and Lee Marvin
and Sam Pekinpah
And a case of Whiskey and drive down to Texas...
(Hey, you know you really are an asshole)
Why don't you just shut-up and sing the song pal!

I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's the world's biggest asshole)

A-S-S-H-O-L-E Everybody! A-S-S-H-O-L-E

Arf Arf Arf Arf Arf Arf Arf
Fung achng tum a fung tum a fling chum
Oooh Oooh

I'm an asshole and proud of it!

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