Sunday, May 8, 2011

Situation Room Photograph

While it does not depict a fan audience, last week's "situation room" photograph of President Obama and his advisors (by White House photographer Pete Sousa) is quite similar to some of the photographs of audiences that I have posted on this blog. I imagine, too, that it will become an historic and iconic image; certainly every new American history textbook is going to use it to summarize the 21st century's first decade.

Analyses of the photo have been appearing all this week; some of the better ones include Caleb Crain's discussion at Steamboats are Ruining Everything and Marco Bohr's Visual Culture Blog. While I won't add anything to their insights at this time, I hope that we can, in this moment, at least, acknowledge the significance of audiencing in our culture.

Update, May 9: Rabbi Jason Miller, via Andrew Sullivan's blog, reports that an Hasidic Jewish newspaper has removed the women in the above photograph. "Audience manipulation" is an old problem recognized by cultural studies scholars, but this is literal. Seriously, how does that change the tenor of the photo?

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