Monday, May 09, 2011

An amateur analyzes a photo

Politically speaking, what an interesting couple of weeks. First, Obama released his long-form birth certificate after denouncing the time consumed by this "sideshow", followed by his leaving to make an appearance on "The View" and to get a round of golf in. Following another (different) round of golf, Obama then announced that Osama Bin Laden had completely filled out his death certificate, and then left to (presumably) get in a relaxing round of golf.

Let's look at the best news.

Let's give credit where credit is due. This President may have ruined the economy, raised taxes, increased deficit spending, torpedoed employment rates, inflamed tensions between the races of America, prevented a state from protecting it's own interests by following federal law, withdrawn support of the Mideast's only democracy, been slow in giving aid to a vital industry in the Gulf of Mexico, prevented the exploration and drilling for oil in the same Gulf, saddled us with a health care reform bill that even Democrats are starting to shy away from, bowed to nearly every world leader and a few mayors as well, allowed Iranian President Ahmadinejad to kill countless Iranian citizens, lowered America's status in the eyes of the world, bungled the chance to change a brutal regime in Libya, allowed the brutal thugs of Syria to further oppress their people, and weakened our southern border in a brazen attempt to pander to Hispanics.

But he has eliminated from the face of this Earth the shit-stain in the underwear of life.

Don't even bother running a candidate in 2012, Republicans. His re-election is virtually locked in!

But I wonder if anybody else has noticed this. Back when I was in college, my major was in communication. Now, communication takes a lot of different forms. As a matter of fact, one of the 'proverbs', if you will, of communication is that "you cannot not communicate". Basically, what that means is that you can find meaning in everything and everybody communicates in one way or another. A part of my study was in body language, which is why I find the following picture so very fascinating.

Now, as you can see here, the... Oops, wrong picture!

Now, as you can see here, we have Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other members of the administration watching what (by implication) is the real-time video of Seal Team 6 storming the compound where Osama has been hiding for the past 5 or 6 years. Turns out that that is false. What they are watching at this point is unknown. Via Flickr, you can find out who is who in this picture. Now what is your eye drawn to first?

For me, the first thing that I see is Hillary. (How I wish that wasn't so!) Her attention is completely devoted to whatever it is she is watching, isn't it? The outside world does not exist to her in this photograph.

Aside: this is the problem with photographs. A photo is a static picture, taken at a particular moment in time that is completely stripped of context. Since we all have different reaction times, what is obvious to a participant who has been completely focused on an action by another party may not ever capture the attention of a third party. And vice versa. Thus, a picture can lie to us by leading us to believe that something may have happened when we are only seeing the tiniest slice of the whole action.

Her hand is over her mouth. Why? She could be completely immersed in the world that she is seeing and is reacting to what is happening. Then again, she could just have gas or is about to yawn and is covering her mouth out of reflex. It could just be a habit that indicates intense interest, and she unconsciously does it under certain conditions but not others. I don't think we'll ever know for sure. What is most likely, however, is that she is watching the action (presumably) going on all the way across the world and is completely engrossed in it.

The next thing that my eye is drawn to is the military man at the head of the table, with three other men standing directly behind him. He is obviously fully engaged in the operation going on, and is leading the entire meeting.

And off to the left of the picture, after your eye has wandered nearly all over the picture (did you notice the woman peeking over the shoulder of one of the men?) and noting good ol' Joe Biden sitting there in the corner? There is Barack, passively watching what is going on, withdrawn into himself, clad in a golf shirt and windbreaker and not really taking up a lot of physical space.

Sort of a Presidential "Where's Waldo?"

Take a good look at him, especially at his facial expression and his posture. Does his body language tell you that he is in charge of this whole operation? Does he seem like anyone is in need of his opinion? Does it even seem like anybody is even aware of his presence in the room?

Doesn't seem like it to me.

Again, this is the problem with static photographs. If we were to watch a video of everything that happened before this picture was taken and everything that happened afterwards, a different story would likely emerge.

It's just ironic that an administration that ran on iconic imagery may just have this image burned into the hearts and minds (and subconsciounesses) of Americans everywhere.

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