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Oct 06, 2008

Harsher Focus

Palin Florida

What goes around comes around?

A BAGreader wrote me recently about a shot of Palin in the Guardian.  He thought the picture -- run last Tuesday, but photographed two weeks ago at the Clinton Global Forum the morning after McCain supposedly suspended his campaign -- made Palin look "older, more heavily made up and evil."  (The Guardian piece, by the way, dealt with Palin, global warming and removal of protection for polar bears.)

Although the take raised some curiosity, I've see more to it since the Veep debate.  If Palin has taken maximum advantage of adorableness, her new incarnation as full-fledged pit bull, and her specific mission to slander Obama, does appear to be shifting the way visual media is responding.  It's as if her nastier focus is bringing out something of the same in the shooter's lens.

Take the shot above, for example, accompanying a stark write-up this morning on WAPO's campaign blog.  (The piece, "In Fla., Palin Goes for the Rough Stuff as Audience Boos Obama," elaborates how Palin continues to associate Obama with domestic terrorism.)

In terms of the propaganda trappings, notice how the flag is enormous and blanketing, as if equal in scale to Palin's exploitation of it.  Also, the "America First" slogan, which grows more racist by-the-day in context with the "Obama as terrorist sympathizer" charge, is cut off to simply read "FIRST," reflective of Palin's role on the GOP ticket, and how Palin encourages audiences to think about themselves in light of her scare tactics.  (All on it's own, by the way, the lilly white blouse is quite a touch, pulling for purity, both morally and racially.)

Let's concentrate on what else the camera is doing, however, to counteract the manufacture of hate.  From the low angle, we see more wrinkles than usual, challenging Palin's advertised picture-perfect surface.  Given the effect of the wind, the image shows Palin, as she delivers the hate, as someone somewhat disheveled.  And then, the light reveals Palin as so heavily made up, she almost looks like a younger Leona Helmsley.  The visual push back here offers up Palin, with her matter-of-fact gesture, as coming from someone so waxy and artificial as to be held up as phony.

(h/t Mark)

(image: Chris O'Meara/Associated Press. Oct. 6, 2008 in Clearwater, FL)


The thing that I noticed as soon as I looked at the photo, is that her eyes look like holes. That is mostly the makeup; somebody's trying to put a strong outline on her eyes, as seen from the front, so that you can kind of "see through" her glasses. From the side or below, though, she looks like Demon Palin getting ready to consume the souls of her followers.


Can't remembering McCain's past comment to his wife on the campaign bus "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." Came to mind when the photos of his being made up were going around, and it comes to mind now. Wonder what Cindy really thinks about Palin?

Karl, is there a difference? Just like, how much of a difference is there between, "Drill, Drill, Drill" and "Drill Baby Drill, Drill Baby Drill? I don't get your point, if you have one.

In any case, in regards to the photo, she DOES look a little like Leona Helmsley. Overall, for her age though, she looks good. This is what a woman her age looks like, and she's foolish to go around pretending she's 21, with the newborn shoved in her arms after every performance and her gidget-like speech and mannerisms, complete with high pitched voice.

It's ok to be 30. Or 40. It's ok to have a few wrinkles and lines on your neck. It's ok to have made some mistakes, not have to run and hide from them or lie about them, to just learn and move on. It's ok, as a grandmother, to not prop your legs up and hike up your skirt when meeting heads of state. It's ok, Sara. It's ok to act like a normal woman, even if you risk, like the rest of us, being called a lesbian or a bitch, or worse. Stand up with us and stand up for us, and you might get a few more of our votes.

ANY image of Palin re-inforces the 'politics of identity'. A photojournalist might be able to select one FRAME pose among many that might (with a little help from a text-context caption) suggest the viciousness, i daresay un-American rhetoric that the white Republican candidate uses to arouse the crowd to unbridled, self-righteous modern-day lynch-mob anger.

But, imho a clever photojournalist would not focus his lens on the speaker, but on the ANGRY CROWD that she incites ;-)

ie., "You might 'identify' yourself with Sarah six-pack Palin; But do you 'identify' yourself with this unruly bunch of vulgar, angry-as-hell (mostly) white people, screaming to (what, KILL??) the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the USA?"

Find THAT, Michael. We hold the mirror up to her... look, she's shameless: "That Obscure Object of Desire" = La Femme et le pantin (the woman and the puppet, by Pierre Louÿs) so we accomplish little to nothing by doing so. otoh, Hold your mirror up to THEM: This Is Your BRAIN on PALIN... perhaps the American people are still capable of shame, eh?


Actually, that's a great photo. Don't miss the forest for the trees.

From MonsieurGonzo: "But, imho a clever photojournalist would not focus his lens on the speaker, but on the ANGRY CROWD that she incites ;-) ie., "You might 'identify' yourself with Sarah six-pack Palin; But do you 'identify' yourself with this unruly bunch of vulgar, angry-as-hell (mostly) white people, screaming to (what, KILL??) the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the USA?"

Great point!

Just glancing at the photo, I thought she looked pleading and decidedly older than in the usual photos. As if she's saying, "Come on, now, this is important." Of course, it's a little late to try looking and sounding serious, also, wink-wink, smile....

I see an old character from Saturday Night Live, circa 1980-something. I don't remember the name, or any of the details, but I do remember she was old and held her mouth in a strange way. I think Jan Hooks played her.

As to Amy's comment about seeing a Saturday Night Live character, perhaps it's Jan Hooks as Tammy Faye Bakker (works for me) or it could even be Nicole Sullivan's 'Vancome Lady' from MadTV.

Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz explained last night that Palin was sent to only the truest Republican enclaves in Florida, where she was assured of full cooperation from the audience.

That picture doesn't capture her necklace: a flag dog tag (that is, a dog tag decorated like a flag) -- just to add to her in-your-face twisted patriotism.

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