Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How Important is IMAGE in American Politics?


  1. Image (perception) is everything now -- and has been since the Nixon-Kennedy debate in 1960.

    We have become a nation of cult followers. And, thus, ends our republic as it continues to devolve.

  2. Image mattered in the days of FDR, too. Few Americans actually knew that the man was basically wheelchair-bound. Photographs of FDR were carefully posed.

  3. The curse of a democracy. The President, like Zeus, must be a shape-shifter. He must present an image that can appear as "all things" to "all people". What else could inspire a forty-something nobody to write a biography about the "Dreams of my Father."

  4. I deliberately chose the two most flattering pictures I could find of President Obama and Mrs. Obama and of Mrs. and Mrs. Romney.

    Both couples make a very fine appearance -- at least in these particular pictures. Whatever else you might want to think of him our president almost always "takes a good picture."

    You and I certainly agree, AOW, that the Era of Image over Substance began with the Nixon-Kennedy Debate that swayed the nation to vote for the more "confident," "debonair," and "glamorous-looking" of the two candidates.

    Since then, being physically attractive and appearing "confident" have been primary considerations in the selection of candidates.

    Although that couldn't possibly account for the sudden emergence of Jimmy Carter and his subsequent victory, could it?

    So, as always, monocausal theories don't really hold water.

    Media MANIPULATION of images has had a tremendous effect. I caught on to what the media's secret-but-in-no-way-hidden agenda the day I realized that the mainstream publications of the day and the "tele-journalists" ALWAYS selected THE most unflattering picture of Richard Nixon they could find in EVERY story about him.

    Nixon, a very serious individual, was not a media-savvy, image-conscious kind of guy. He was not bad looking, but you'd never have known it from the way he was deliberately PORTRAYED. His wife was beautiful. That couldn't be hidden or disguised, but it was always downplayed or ignored in the media.

    None of us can help alter the physiognomy God gave us, unless we undergo plastic surgery, but the enemedia DOES have the power either to distort OR enhance public perception through their selective manipulation of images.

  5. Mrs. Onama has a flattering picture?
    Wow that's a news flash

  6. George, apparently you are blind. I am sorry, but since I used to teach The blind for a significant part of my career, I know that many of the problems blindness brings CAN be overcome.

    I wish you the best of luck in overcoming yours.

  7. Blind? Not so.
    Iowa responding to YOUR comment saying that you picked the most "flattering" pictures of Mrs. Obama .
    And I thought that no such pictures existed.

  8. "How Import is IMAGE in American Politics?"


    Even though he said it has nothing to do with seeking the presidency in 2016, is it a coincidence that Gov. Christie chose this time to lose weight, and not the previous 4 years?

    I applaud him in his efforts, in any event. But I don't believe for a minute that his future political plans had nothing to do with it.

    Most savvy politicians know that in our media-driven society one has to be a certain height and weight and be "nice looking" in order to become president--unfortunately.

    But this is also true, for the most part, in the corporate world.

    This isn't true in the world of science, where what your research and hard work produces is what counts, not how pretty you are.

    Same thing, for the most part, in sports. It's how well you perform against other athletes that counts, not what your face looks like.

  9. Looks matter for the people who say. They do not for the people who do.

  10. Hello, Ms Shaw. I have to agree with your analysis.

    Now, it used to be that in order to succeed in the world of opera -- or on the concert stage -- it didn't matter at all what you LOOKED like -- only how well you played or sang.

    Luisa Tetrazzini, for instance, was an enormously fat woman who unabashedly carried her billowing anatomy with aplomb, because she knew her devoted fans were interested in her remarkable abilities as a coloratura soprano. Enrico Caruso was hardly a matinee idol, but he is revered even to today for his spectacular vocal accomplishments.

    I'm not sure this is altogether a bad thing, because we know -- and care -- more about health and fitness now than we did even twenty years ago, but with the exception of the remarkable mezzo-soprano, Stephanie Blythe, whose amiable, larger-than-life personality and charmingly confident attitude makes her attractive in spite of her 350-plus pounds, I can't think of anyone currently popular on the operatic stage today who could properly be called a "fatty."

    Even the leading contestants in world-class piano competitions today tend to be good-looking, and lean and fit as champion athletes, though not always. Yliann Avdeevna, the last first prize winner in te International Chopin Competition, has a face that could stop a clock, but she has a prodigious command of the repertory. Nevertheless, today's obsession with "image" does make me wonder how many were washed out of the running simply because they were homely?

    At any rate, I find myself wishing for less glamor, more wit, more honest, non-ideological analysis, more wisdom, and a nice avuncular, grandfatherly, grandmotherly, or favorite old maid aunt-like appearance in our public figures.

    Our worship of Youth, Good Looks and Physical Fitness has caused our thinking to become more shallow. less probing, and less analytical.

    I don't think it has much-if-anything to do with party politics. I blame it more on the way the media drives our thinking and manipulates our perceptions.

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  12. Confidence and self assurance has been important throughout history.

    One physical image has become important because... can't think of one single rational reason. But it has. Maybe the media?

    And Anon, just what the hell does casual sex have to do with the subject at hand? Whether it be Mrs. Obama or Mrs. Romney. Aside from the fact you have no basis for your comment, other that to malign the First Lady it don't really matter dude. Get a life.

  13. I believe it is very important. Our representatives are representing American citizen and their nation.

    It's a shame that Michelle Obama has not followed this easy suit of our classy past First Ladies.

  14. Control the images - control the culture.

    Some German guy really understood that. Motion pictures and the Bolshevik graphic artists took it mainstream.

    Now, you better have the visuals.

  15. Of course image is important. When one contestant is a sweaty and beady-eyed lawyer the race will likely go the debonair and suave individual who could appear to remain calm, cool and collected. And it did.

    Personally I don't even think that JFK was a bad President in comparison to those that followed. He surely paid a steep price for "winning" that election.

    And Nixon got another chance anyway. We all know hos that turned out, no?

  16. AVDEEVA? Heard all her videos on YT. A very fine talent. Others have even more, but she works harder and deserves every bit of success she's earned.

    Plays very very well, but has no "charisma."

    She ,ade it anyway. Good for her!

  17. Just knowing how to make the camera lie, FT.

  18. What they did for Yulianna Avdeeva -- that's an excellent "Vogue" shot of her by the way -- I've never seen her look that good when she's "in action" -- they've never been able to do for Hillary Clinton. And BOY! Did they TRY.

    Yulianna Avdeeva is no Hillary Clinton. Yulianna has something REAL and GOOD to offer.

    Let me say this to you, Ducks. Try not always to sound so abrasive and derisive. "Making the camera lie" is an unfortunate, unkind phrase -- especially when you're trying to illustrate a point about how formal portrait or fashion photography is used to create and enhance public images.

    Wouldn't it be kinder -- and more to the point -- if you said something like, "The camera can be a very useful tool in the subtle art of flattery."

    I'm sure that what you really meant with your tart, tight-lipped, unnecessarily cutting little statement was this:

    Skillful application of makeup, lighting, fashion, hairstyling, artful posing and experimental use of myriad camera angles often help the photographer to create the most flattering image possible of a subject who may under ordinary circumstances appear undistinguished or downright homely at best.

    The name Richard Avedon comes to mind.



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