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Aug 27, 2008

One Verge Of Nomination, Obama The Menace

Oct-06-Time-Obama   Time-Obama-Dnc-Cover

As the convention pivots, turning its attention to the nominee, I'm concerned in advance as to how the traditional media will frame (poor choice of words, I hope) Barack Obama.  If the cover of TIME's convention preview is any indication, however, we're in trouble.  (By the way, I have examples in hand of three more convention-related publication covers that will really trouble you.  I just need to find a scanner from the middle of the media/blogging beehive I'm in to bring them to you.)

Compare the new TIME cover with their October '06 edition when Obama was still, what they termed, a "fresh face" (as opposed to a man, they see now, as having at least five of them).   What was a smile then has turned toward a grimace.  The eyes are slightly narrowed conveying more wariness, even skepticism.  And then, in place of the white background and the proclamation of a title, Obama floats ominously in the dark, the color contrast and his merger with the shadows making him darker as well.

(image 1: Barack Obama, image 2: Platon for TIME)


Michael: I don't agree with your comparison of these images. What you call a smile on the left I see as a smirk. The skin color seems washed out creating something of an unreal effect, and the set of his eyes is somewhat cloudy, almost like a blank stare. On the right what you see as a grimace I see as the way in which the mouth calls attention to the jaw which is set and somewhat resolved ... he knows where he is going; the eyes don't seem all to be "narrower" or "skeptical," to me they are in sharper relief and suggest a degree of clarity, even focus. And the color strikes me as more realistic, truer in the sense of being more human; and indeed setting it all against the shadows does not strike me as ominous but actually lets him stand out against a much darker background. And the reference to the five faces could be problematic as you suggest OR it could suggest the complexity of the man and his capacity to accommodate a range of interests. In short, while I have no idea what Time intended I'm not sure that it is necessarily as ominous as you seem to imply (unless I'm getting you wrong there) and in any case, I think it could be used (interpreted) in productive ways to "show" him as a more attractive alternative.

It reminds me of the dark and light OJ covers.

I don't really see a problem here, except that the left image is too purple (on my computer)*. On the right, the image looks normal and healthy. A pleasant face, he seems ready. Ready for whatever comes. Just on a personal level, this is a face that is easy to look at, when I see McC, I cringe, (what's that strange lump is on his jaw?).

*I remember while growing up, Ed Sullivan was always green, when everyone else on the show looked normal.

John, I appreciate the comment and, as always, accept the subjectivity involved. My overriding sense is that the picture is ominous. I might not feel the same way if Obama's face was more fully defined, but I find him overly merged with the shadows.

I don't see any problem with the recent image; in fact, I prefer it over the previous one. I think it's meant to show Obama for who he is, a man on the brink of assuming the US presidency. He seems much more incontrol in the more recent photo, much more in touch with who is is and what mantle of power he's about to assume... We hope... If he doesn't get elected it will be evident that there's no fucking hope for the Unites States of America...

Michael: I agree fully with the problem of subjectivity here. That was in part my point, i.e., two reasonable and charitable folks could easily read these images in very different ways. And while the hermeneutics of suspicion is a powerful critical discourse (and certainly justified in some measure), it can also be determining in problematic ways (a sort of self fulfilling prophecy). If, as "critics" we work to tease out the tensions and capacity for multiple readings it is also possible that we can coach the more charitable reading, even if it is in some measure inadvertent. In short, I don't mean that your reading is wrong and mine right--indeed, by itself each reading is subject to a certain myopia-- but to call attention to the complexity of the image and the range of possibilities. And as always, it is precisely what places like the the BAG (and NCN) are designed to coach and enable.

i appreciated the warmth in the second cover.
the first cover suggests the coolness of a technocrat,
a criticism barack is often hit with.

Obama floats ominously in the dark

i read it as: barack is going to lead us out of the darkness.

I agree with John about one thing.....the color of the older cover does look washed out. I checked the photos on Obama's site for campaign approved photos. Other than that, the newer photo is more grainy, which seems to emphasize facial blemishes. Also there seems to be an 'oily' or shiny texture to his face. Plus the lines around his mouth are emphasized, which could lead one to think it more animalistic. Don't suppose that was intentional, hmmmmm? It also looks like (at least on my screen) that the lower jaws have been blackened to make his face seem less full, or rounded.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think the photos are almost identical except for some manipulation. I don't see the sinister look or smirk in either, he looks about to break into that famous smile. That doesn't mean that all that won't have an impact on someone who hasn't been listening for the past year and reads all those hateful emails. Standing at the checkout counter staring at it. Will it just reinforce all those prejudices and give that final push to McCain?

There is a photo of W looking out from blackness, with only his head showing; it is meant to be sinister. Sorry I can't remember where I saw it.

I would like to superimpose these images in B&W, because the only actual (not manipulated) difference I can detect is perhaps a slight increase in height of the tripod (if people still use these).

Sorry, I have to disagree with the author (but thank him for this blog entry). I like the image on the right better then the left. In the left picture Obama looks somewhat cartoonish. In the right he looks more decisive, sure, confident. Perhaps it is the difference in vertical angle. I don't know, but that's my opinion for what's it worth (nothing).

Obama\Biden 08'

left = Greek idealism; right = Roman realism.

and this, fwiw is late 19th / early 20th Century ‘petite bourgeoisie’ mythos.

I agree that the dark background in the photo on the right, the selection of a facial image lacking warmth, and the exaggerated lines between mouth and chin creating a baggy effect, make one wonder why the photo on the right was selected. It is unflattering and certainly does not jibe with Obama's message of hope.

I also thought the lead story photos of Obama in the New York Times right after his acceptance speech in Denver make his skin look a lot darker than it seemed to be on TV. Check them out, just go to tonight, they're right there starting on pg 1. Not just one photo, but several. Is it just me or does it look that way to you?

Obama floats ominously in the dark...

This is what Republicans see just before they wake up screaming, covered in cold sweat.

I also like the new one on the right. It is a warmer, more real representation. The dark background brings him more forward.

Is it the new Star Trek commander?

Can he take on the Klingons? ( aka Russia)

Ian Murray

"I think the photos are almost identical except for some manipulation."
— Cactus, a few posts above

I agree – this is the exact same photo with different postprocessing (white balance, sharpening). Look for details like where the two ends of his collar meet, the wrinkles around his eyes, the hair above the forehead…

The editing – in both cases (we're not seeing an untouched picture on either covers) – was made to enforce the editorial message.

.........are you kidding me? Waaaaaay too much is being read into the reuse of a photo. Who. Cares.

how many faces does mccain have?

The blogger in this case is trying to stretch imagination, or allude to the 'OJ Simpson' phenom of the early 90's. I don't think it is the case this time.

Also, the current cover of Time is of McCain, shot similarly. This issue of Obama is part one of a 2 part issue. I think the covers reflect the content of both Democrat and Republican sides fairly and artistically.

I think that the blogger's attempt at pointing out any color shift or lighting difference, whether in the name of editorial fairness or not, to allude to Obama's ethnicity is already a borderline racist blog entry. My guess is the blogger is probably a white middle class writer.

Whilst pointing out judicious inaccuracies, as in the OJ Simpon cover of the 'same' image darkened, is commendable, stretching journalistic opinion like this is sort of stoking the flames of hatred for the writer.

first, these are not the same picture, they are similar... yes, but not the same picture manipulated by a computer program.
second, the argument here is speculative. There could be bias in choosing the cover, but that could never be proven. All that has been said is just opinions.
I myself prefer the one on the right, it shows someone more confident and in command.


"left = Greek idealism; right = Roman realism."

Ironic, since the one on the right is shot by Platon...
I personally feel very connected with the new cover, it seems very personal, hiding nothing. It is dark, however.

I just overlaid the images to compare the changes. Surprisingly, the biggest one is his ears. In the newer version they have become pointy, large and jut further from his face. No kidding. Try it yourself.

I just overlaid the images to compare the changes. Surprisingly, the biggest one is his ears. In the newer version they have become pointy, large and jut further from his face. No kidding. Try it yourself.

OOps sorry about the double post.

What I meant to say was that when overlaid the eyes, eye-lines, and eyebrow match exactly. The left eye is a pixel-exact match. So no, it is the same picture.

I over-layed the images too - they are not the same image - his chin is slightly pitched down in the newer cover. this is probably an image from the very same photo shoot with Platon, with different post treatment. Also the left eye is not an exact pixel match, close but not exact.

By left I mean his left. Try that one. The face in general has been stretched and narrowed, and his right eye has been slightly manipulated. If there is a way for me to attach an image here I will do so.

So try his left, your right, and see what you get.

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