For the first Analyze This!!! assignment, we would like you to investigate contemporary election photographs. Seek out campaign photographs of one of the current candidates for President (Obama, Santorum, Perry, Romney, Paul, Gingrich, or, even though she has officially dropped out of the race, Michelle Bachmann, whose  campaign website is still available). Choose one photograph for your analysis.  Using Roland Barthes’s observations in “Photography and Electoral Appeal” as a guideline (and you may wish to quote from the essay as well), provide a brief analysis of that photograph as part of your blog entry. You may wish to include the photograph or include a link to it as part of your post.

For another approach to this assignment, you might focus your analysis on a campaign song or on a video advertisement rather than a photograph, although still using Barthes’s observations to guide the analysis.

Your blog entry should be posted before Monday ’s class (January 23). Your analysis should be in the 400-500 word range.

Please note: Focus on photographs that have some official and legitimate source. As we all know, there’s a lot of really trashy stuff to be found on the internet, much of it of dubious authenticity, and some of it obviously photoshopped. Let’s start with official campaign materials as the basis for the analysis.

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3 responses »

  1. minifvr2 says:

    This particular image is of Michele Bachmann, who was one of several candidates hoping to represent the Republican party in the 2012 Presidential election, but has since withdrawn from the race. This picture, which appeared on the August 2011 cover of Newsweek magazine shows Bachmann in a very interesting manner. We’ll start first with the most piercing part of the photograph: Mrs. Bachmann’s eyes. They seem to be staring right at you and into your soul, in a creepy axe murderer sort of way. Although, it must be said that Mrs. Bachmann’s eyes are a lovely dark blue, which match the background in which Newsweek rather well.
    Everything about Mrs. Bachmann’s expression seems to be forced. Her smile is limp and half assed, almost as though she was poked in the back of the head with a stick, and realized, when she was about to yell at the individual, that it was one of her life-long role models, and had to laugh off the situation. The picture is taken from the waist up, with her torso slightly turned, and her face staring directly into the camera. Her teeth, for a woman of 55, are very white, and I suspect that the use bleaching or Photoshop was employed. Her hair is of a fairly conservative style; it’s in place and is perfectly colored. If the 55 year old woman didn’t color her hair I would be shocked. While looking at her age, her skin shows signs of aging, but some nip-tucking may have occurred at some point, and if it hasn’t already, it will occur in the near-future. Mrs. Bachmann is also sporting a pearl necklace and semi-matching dangle earrings, in my personal opinion studded pearl earrings would have looked much more down to Earth and would have been more suitable the “photo shoot.” Mrs. Bachmann’s overall dress is quite neat, and I approve of the suit she is wearing. She looks far more presentable in the dark blue or black suit than Hilary Clinton in her collection of pantsuits that seem to include all of the colors in the visible light spectrum.
    If we look at the headlines around her show some inclination as to how she might feel about certain topics. The caption right under her says “The Queen of Rage” and in smaller print under the caption, “Michele Bachmann on God, the Tea Party, and the Evils of Government.” Along with those titles, there are other miscellaneous headlines about the economy, but this is something that one would expect from Newsweek. /Users/nathanlessard/Desktop/enhanced-buzz-6071-1323202974-10.jpeg

  2. minifvr2 says:

    This is the image that was analyzed.


  3. For my analysis, I chose this photo off of New Gingrich’s official website. First let us examine what the photo consist of; the American flag background, a glass or clear plastic podium, a small “banner” dedicated to his “21st Century Contract with America), and Newt himself.

    The American flag is perhaps an obvious choice to have in a picture, the signs connected with it are more or less positive in that the flag marks the candidate as a patriot, someone who truly loves and cares for their country’s well-being. That flag represents an unbroken chain of service from Washington to Teddy Roosevelt and into our own times. The flag in fact serves a purpose much like heraldry of old, just as the Fleur de Lys served the Capetian Kings of France equally well as it served the Bourbon, the flag of the United States is a sign of united purpose, it is a myth of a continued struggle to make it in the world, to keep pressing onwards with all its connotations of manifest destiny and the importance of the United States in keeping the world at peace.

    The glass or clear plastic podium is a sign as well. First, we must consider that the podium in real-terms shows that he has likely been engaged in debate. This shows him as a man who perhaps thrives in debate, who puts on his elbow pads and digs in for the long grind, a familiar face on the jousting grounds of congress, an old hand who, however, has managed to stay sleek and young (clear plastic/glass versus wood, where “wood” would be a sign for an old hand who wants to keep old ways of doing things).

    The banner that declares that this is a link to Newt’s 21st Century Contract with America is of course in the three colors associated with the flag, not necessarily unexpected. However, in the title of this document comes a number of connotations. The image is of modernism vs past, what was good for people before is no longer true because we have made such amazing advances, the idea that we must renew the social contract stems from the apathetic belief current in the country that we didn’t sign the social contract so why must we adhere to it, a new social contract therefore being attached to his name opens up the floodgates to allowing him to pursue his own manifest destiny if elected.

    The picture of Gingrich himself also contains a number of signs. His hair is well taken care of, balanced and even, not unkempt (and as Barthes mentions in the section on the Abbe, this denotes that he is very much concerned with his appearance and does not hold the public’s opinion in contempt). His hair thus speaks of good-nature, refined, moderation. His body language speaks to this same effect, both arms are raised in such a manner as to show him a calm, deliberate, balanced, moderate candidate. It is as though he is looking right at you and saying, “It’s alright America, I’ll take care of this.”

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