Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Big Pictures

The Matt Bai passage from today’s Times Magazine, which I parsed in yesterday’s post, was far less visible than the magazine’s cover story – announced in what looks like 500-point type on the cover: “OBAMA’S PEOPLE.” Must’ve been an exciting moment in the editorial planning session when that epiphany hit!

“I’ve got it! Remember that Avedon issue of Rolling Stone in 1976? How about we do it now? We devote all of the main editorial well of the pre-Inauguration issue to full-page portraits of ‘Obama’s People.' Say, 52 of them, for each week of the year. Don't let Vanity Fair beat us to this!

"After all, like many of our readers — like most Americans, it seems fair to say — we sense something eventful and potentially far-reaching about this election, and the challenges the new president and his team will immediately face. Why not take account of this with portraits of those whose character and temperament and bearing may well prove consequential in the coming months and years? (Note to self: Reference Roland Barthes in the intro.)

"Who are these new Powers-that-Be? Well, I think we do a mixed bag of his cabinet picks, his staff, a few Senators and members of Congress… a few miscellaneous hangers-on in Washington – just to, you know, loosen it up. Hip, surprising, but Important. It’s our own unique NY Times Magazine perspective on the new power elite. Not Diane Arbus or Annie Liebowitz. More, say, Madame Tussaud.”

“Bingo.”

One note: This gargantuan attempt at collector’s edition-creation conveys no discernible idea or point… but it does achieve one interesting result: full-page portraits of both Hillary Clinton and Jon Favreau, on a level playing field. Which is nice for him. After all, we know how much he enjoys being next to a full-size photograph of Hillary Clinton.

P.S. Six weeks, and counting.

4 comments:

classychic said...

Obama has an 80% approval rating right now. Are we just pessimists or are we the only sane people left in America? At this point I don't even know anymore. I'm watching my friends who are on Cloud Nine in Washington or wishing they were in Washington. I wish I could be one of "Obama's People" so I won't feel left out anymore. I know a lot of former Hillary supporters like this - they were critical of Obama until one day they just gave in and became fervent Obama supporters. I think I tried to become one at some point but couldn't do it.

classychic said...

Oh, ok. Someone says there are about two or three hundred of us left. That makes me feel a bit better: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2009/01/imperial-pageantry-for-moronically.html

Falstaff said...

I could be totally wrong about this, but I think his aura is going to start dissolving pretty quickly. The very hysteria and insistence of its current expressions betray its fragility, I think. Of course, the most dyed-in-the-Kool-Aid acolytes won't falter, but I think the overall glow will fade -- if for no other reason than that this pervasive hagiography will get boring.

I mean, these pieces in all the major media were obviously in the works for quite awhile, and their editors were determined to run them, pretty much regardless of what events intervened. So, though the bloom is off Obama's rose for much of the Left... and though the financial crisis has turned even the election of the first African-American president into a second-tier thought in most people's minds... nonetheless, they had these stories in the can, and by God, they were going to publish them. This occasion provides to sexy a lure for a journalist: the seeming opportunity to write not just the first rough draft of history, but the actually canonical version.

july4cat said...

I'm just glad it's going to be over tomorrow. We should let Obama and his people enjoy their moment of glory. After all, it can't go wrong for us either way. If we happen to be right, we can shout 'I told you so' as we watch those things we call civil rights or economic justice being sacrificed away in the worship of unity. And if we turn out to be wrong, I'm sure we will be too happy to feel any sense of defeat in the post-Obama world, a world of no struggle or conflict and with no need to fight injustice of any kind.