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Aug 19, 2008

Setting The Table For Denver, LA Times Plays "The Celebrity Card"


Would anyone care to suggest that the "celebrity" virus launched by the McCain campaign hasn't well infected the traditional media?

As well, please don't tell me that the LAT is somehow absolved from visually and textually perpetuating the slander under some pretext of simply portraying the portrayal.  I'm particularly interested in your take as the window and the question inside versus outside (among other things) makes this pic particularly complex.

From my vantage, I see this image as having a particularly high toxicity quotient, not just "playing the celebrity card" but also suggesting Barack Obama -- opposite the squad and gawkers and citizen paparazzi -- as not just a rock star, but perhaps an animal in the zoo.

I just have to add, the caption was lowly enough already -- parroting "naive," "celebrity" and "unprepared" -- without that finishing reference to danger.

Update 8/20: The NYT has the same shot on this AM's front page, with a more innocuous caption: "Senator Barack Obama arrived Tuesday at the Sheraton hotel in Raleigh, N.C., creating a camera-worthy moment from two sides."

(h/t: Lauren)
Barack Obama's image suffers amid John McCain attacks, poll finds (LAT)
(image: Joe Raedle / Getty Images. North Carolina)


I for one welcome our new celebrity overlords!

Oh, which one had the 8 or 9 houses and the $500 shoes again? And the trophy wife, with the plane, of course...

I'm not sure the survey findings are what the L.A. Times claims they are. For instance, more than half of the respondents answered Yes to the question, "Do you know anyone who feels uneasy about electing a black president?" The question is very ambiguous. Most people know somebody who would like to see race as an issue. Sure! Republicans will take any advantage they can get. Does this mean that voters see race as a legitimate concern? That's a completely different response.

What does it mean when we are told that 17% of respondents say America's not ready for a black president? Is a respondent's belief about America's readiness an information question or an attitude question? If respondents don't know what is really being asked, the data can't be meaningfully agglomerated. Further probing might resolve the ambiguities, but we're not told if this was done. I suspect it wasn't. I'm wary of how newspapers are reporting the election. For all we know, Obama could be running away with this election.

It seems clear (agreeing with BAG) that the LA Times is parroting (not reporting, not even reflecting, but parroting) the attack-du-jour from Republican strategists. It's especially acute in the photo in that Obama seemingly ignores the gawkers. (I'd bet my life a photo from three seconds before shows him waving or nodding at them.) This "aloofness" conveys the sense (again, right on BAG) that he's both a jaded pop-star AND a (pacing) zoo animal. It's pretty clear that someone at the LA Times is Right On Board with the McCain campaign.

But to throw out a counterpoint: I'm not sure I see how the "Obama pop star" line-of-attack really helps McCain win the election. Yes, it does minimize McCain's own failings, not just in oratory, but in helping to justify the lack of enthusiasm McCain generates among his own party.

But it also neutralizes their best attack on Obama--the "dangerous black radical (muslim?)" line.

First off, Americans LOVE celebrity. Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger are two examples of people who would never have gotten anywhere without it.
Second off, Americans--including bitter" blue collar midwestern and southern whites, oddly enough--love black male celebrities.
Will Smith is THE man in film, period. In American popular culture, once a black man becomes a famous entertainer (and this was true long before Harry Belefonte, and continued up through, most ironically, Spike Lee), he's no longer "black" (i.e. coded as dangerous), but rather, the heroic underdog who Made It. Celebrity de-racializes blacks for many whites, even racist ones.

I mean, would any white Americans actually hesitate to vote for Will Smith for President...? (Note to Mr. Smith: what are you doing in 2016?)

The days of the "serious politician" are long dead. (killed by a capitalist media, mostly.) How many serious, sober politicians have won elections in the last thirty years? No, the day of the celebrity--the drawling warrior (Reagan), the charismatic everyman (Clinton), the pseudo-cowpoke (Bush)--are here.

I could see the Obama-as-celebrity backfiring on the republicans in the polling booth.

Who wants to vote for some politician when you can vote for a star?!

But perhaps I'm an optimist.

I've got to say it, if the worst thing John Mccain has 'branded' Obama with is that he's a celebrity, John McCain will lose.

I know there is a built in tendency with the BAG to see the sinister machinations behind everything, I think it's kind of tough to complain that, darnit, the 'mainstream media' just thinks our candidate is way too popular and cool.

That's a fascinating photo- sort of "inside-out" photo. The fans inside taking photos of the celebrity outside.

The expressions on the faces are mixed, but mainly positive ones.

And the reflections are good, too, because that draws us back outside. It's somewhat confusing. The cars look like they're behind the people inside.

Overall, I don't see it so negatively. Here he's not shown in front of a sea of faces, but at the same scale as his fans. In case no one has noticed this before, candidates (and politicians) ARE celebrities. It sort of goes with the territory. What McCain is griping about is that he can't create this sort of interest- it's sour grapes.

In this photo I see a crowd of people that are happy and glad to see the man that just might hold the key to putting our nation on the right track. Especially notice the black person waving at Obama. How happy and proud to see a black man running for President.
This photo for me expresses what Obama has been selling. Hope for our nation.

That the NYTimes is now using the same photo above for it's article on "Obama’s Ads in Key States Go on Attack" is interesting in that the NYT would choose an image in sync with McCain's attack on Obama even as the text of the article is about Obama's attacks on McCain.

It's a brilliant way of distracting the textual message with a contrary visual image. Maybe the NYT is trying to get their share of McCain troll points.

Nice catch by Lauren.

“What's The Conversation?” she asked me the other day, her voice always surprisingly more clear over the fibreoptic trans-Atlantic cable line than the plain old telephone system copper wires that stretch across our hometown (San Francisco). She didn't ask me, “What's new,” or even, “Whassup?

Because there hasn't been much news in ‘The News’ for quite some time. Over There in The States, ‘The News’ program has become ‘The News’ show; and ‘The News’, itself has become the narrative... a ‘conversation’, apparent.

You could see them, the media, flopping about like fish suddenly pulled out of water and plopped on a dry dock, gasping for a new news narrative immediately after the Democratic Primary narcissus. Casting about, here and there, where oh where are we going to find some kinda content to fill all this bandwidth capacity? OMG the eyeballs are wandering all over, The Olympics aren't ON, yet; god help us all if somebody peeks behind the curtains, and some news reporter => narrative story teller says something like, "I think that..." and somebody suddenly says, "You're a narrator, not a reporter! You come in every morning and read The New York Times while sitting there in makeup, lookit GoogleNews or somesuch, and come ON THE AIR knowing as much about WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW as *I* do, and BTW: who gives a damn what you think about it, anyway?"

Mr. Obama made a mistake. It wasn't that he didn't make any news; Rather, he didn't give The Media a new narrative. This is dangerous, not unlike an attorney questioning a witness without having some idea how the witness will repond, a priori... i mean, you never know WHAT the hell the newspeople (oops! the narrators) will say: "THIS... is The Story." otoh, Mr. McCain gave them their content filler FIX. Of course, it was absurd, fluffy stuff (Paris Hilton?) But that fabric stretch made his Story = The News history all the more delicious a frosted flake breakfast narrative. Yummy inna TeleTummy!

BAG News Notes: The Media abhors a narrative vacuum.

A Man = ‘celebrity’, apparent walking through a cordon of ‘fans’, apparent on the face of it not "news" worthy; But then again, "What's The Conversation?" What is the ‘narrative’, apparent? If you don't like their News, Senator, give them your Narrative.

A serious, thoughtful, intelligent man carrying his briefcase as he prepares himself for the most important job he will ever have and the people, the captives, are expressing joy that the 8 years of embarrassing, juvenile behavior is over. An adult has arrived.

What I focused on, before scoping in on the window images, was Obama with his head down, trying not to see the people. Ignoring them? Ignoring the people? That alone is subversive. Then I saw the face-front cameras and the other people, just standing, watching. Even without the words/caption, it undermines Obama's connection to his public. Sets him apart from and unaware of them. Isn't that just what the McC's want?

Incidentally, I checked Getty for the images before and after this one, and they were totally unrelated. I guess it will be between the photographer and his camera for eternity.

Timolo: Amurikans do not like thoughtful, intelligent men (or women, FGS!) We like the bumbling drunk because even the most lowly mouth-breather can feel superior to him. Sad to say, but that's what you get when you wipe out the educational system. Or am I just getting too depressed these days.........

OT: I don't know if M.Gonzo has ever written a book, but it he did, I'll bet it was a killer!

i have never written a book or a billboard, dear lady, only blurbs. However, Madame and i are looking for a good editor familiar with the nuances of succulents : Damn the punctuation, sin simillas a head !

Mark Morford => smells like newspeak newlit comin' outta NoCal.

Well you know what they say out there in Hollywood; Sweetie, the only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about. For what it's worth, my money is on the young upstart who can't possibly be worse than Bush, rather than the Crazy Old Coot who would put Phil "I'm responsible for the Housing and Banking Crisis" Gramm in charge of the US Treasury. Those 2 clowns would make the Chimpy years seem like some kind of Golden Age of meritorious conduct and sensible planning. Then again that might be just the spark this country needs to bring about the Second Revolution of the have nots over the haves. There would be a few years of lopping off of heads and what not, but thats to be expected. Someone has to feed the tree of liberty. Then we could settle down into a nice socialist democracy like France. Universal healthcare and month long vacations anyone?

shame on the la times.

Where's the secret service? Where's the whole entourage? He's carrying his own bag. If you can ignore the gawkers, admittedly impossible, he's the anti celebrity.

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