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Sep 14, 2008

The Picture of Deception

Greenberg Mccain

I'm not going to defend the fact freelance photographer Jill Greenberg deceived John McCain, embarrassed her client, The Atlantic, and potentially damaged her burgeoning freelance career.  Beyond the drama -- BAGnewsNotes being primarily about the picture --I find her subversive, up-lit portrait of Steve Schmidt's client brimming with characterological truth.

(click for full size)
Atlantic Mccain(For a more detailed background on how Greenberg, after taking the cover shot, tricked McCain as to which way the light was coming from, and went on to do even more bad things, check out Rachel Hulin or PDN.)

In fact, I find a certain poetic justice to the episode.

The hiring of Greenberg, compelled not just on the basis of her background and experience but also her sometimes maverick artistry, offers parallels to the GOP's hiring of candidate McCain as its nominee.  McCain promised one thing -- a different kind of campaign, one with integrity, one with candor, one with access -- and then delivered something else.  Greenberg actually trumps him, because she did deliver a cover shot that The Atlantic was perfectly happy with.  The thing is, she used deception to get the goods on McCain, as well.

In that regard, the Dr. Evil portrait -- beyond its blatantly unintimidated look at a not-so-friendly or nice McCain --  is also poetically perfect in the way the shooter and the subject, two otherwise widely accomplished and popular performers, are both revealed as characters of subterfuge.

Jill Greenberg website.

(images: Jill Greenberg.  2008)

Comments

While the backstage drama seems to be a case of he-said/she-said, it appears both parties are being disingenuous. She apparently held back image(s) but I don't know what her contract with The Atlantic stipulated. The Atlantic has refused to pay her, even while using one of her images for their cover, which in my book is stealing. In so doing, the editors have displayed some faux outrage at their 'victimization.' BTW, I've always thought it a left of center magazine, so perhaps they well knew Greenberg's leanings. Mea culpa, anyone? Greenberg's cavalier attitude about her deception does her no credit.

That said, I find the images stunning. The cover for the relatively uncomplicated (and unretouched) depiction of an old man who would govern the former leader of the free world. It shows the man as you would be looking at him up close, with all the wrinkles and bloodshot eyes and cancer scars. BTW, just why should this photo BE retouched? Is he running for Mr. USA? No, he's running to represent us and we deserve to see a true picture of the man. Especially since the state of his health is a nagging question for us all. It may show all his flaws but it's real and not all that unflattering. It looks like the image he is presenting to the public with flaws that he cannot hide.

kathleen's point about the sag of his face indicating a previous (and potential) stroke, recalls the comments when his medical records were "made public" that he had suffered several "siezures." Again, isn't that something we, his potential bosses, should know?

The 'stealth' shot is the other McCain. The one behind the public mask. I am reminded of the movie "Eyes Wide Shut," wherein, once the masks are removed, some very aberrant and dark behavior is revealed. Here we see the bushy brow and downward turn of the mouth that reveals the man of quick temper and rages; a man feared by the Pentagon and Senate colleagues alike. A man with a shadow past as yet unrevealed to the public (at least those under 40) of Keating Five cohorts, the shadow 'cabinet' of advisors like Gramm who are responsible for our current fiscal meltdown. It's the ominous shadow of the backroom McCain which the media will not report. That shadow asks if we will ever know all his dark dealings and associations with those who straddle the edges of the law.

StanB. mentioned Arnold Newman, but the images brought to my mind Richard Avedon. Especially his later work where he was fascinated with the ravages of age on the face. MonsieurGonzo: a step too far. Nina Berman and The Bag, while I can't speak to the current photographer work ethic, is it not the job of an artist to depict what s/he sees, believes, no matter what the 'commercial' repercussions might be? IF that is what Greenberg is doing, is she not being true to the art, in spite of whatever personality meltdown she may be exhibiting? IOW, is not the core of artistic reference coming to the fore, through the miasma of political language and obfuscation of the truth? Are we so jaded in this 21st century that we cannot distinguish between blatant political jingoism (Obama-waffle) and images that penetrate to the heart of expression?

Well, I just passed the point at which I'm not making sense even to myself.

Whenever I see any picture of McCain, I see the bulge on one side of his face. I keep asking myself what it is--it looks like he has a tumour growing in there or something. For that matter his neck does not look normal either. I think it's possible that he's much sicker than anyone lets on. If so, then....

Oh, well. The team that keeps Dick Cheney alive will undoubtedly be called in to inject McCain with the blood of virgins or whatever it is that keeps these human wrecks going well past their time.

I always see the bulge as a huge masseter muscle from years of grinding his teeth: that just pops into my head everytime I see his picture. But googling his 'smiling' images, no dice. Maybe he wears a mouthguard, religiously.

The sagging left side of his face is a side-effect of the surgery for his melanoma in 2000. It is a common side-effect of lymphectomy (removal of the lymph nodes). Which also gives rise to health questions...

I actually like the cover. I think he looks decent and real with his broken nose.

That's in contrast to how Jill Greenberg comes across. I thought it was a dishonest and mean trick she played on him. Then I checked out one of the articles you linked to and saw the other pictures she posted on her website. I don't know what she looks like, but I see her in the photos more than I see John McCain.

Now, in addition to dishonest and mean, (mean also in the sense of small), I think her actions were disgusting and vile. That's no way to treat another person.

I actually like the cover. I think he looks decent and real with his broken nose.

That's in contrast to how Jill Greenberg comes across. I thought it was a dishonest and mean trick she played on him. Then I checked out one of the articles you linked to and saw the other pictures she posted on her website. I don't know what she looks like, but I see her in the photos more than I see John McCain.

Now, in addition to dishonest and mean, (mean also in the sense of small), I think her actions were disgusting and vile. That's no way to treat another person.

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