Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
April 25, 2005

What on Earth


How far has the environment fallen as a political priority? 

This is the shot in the NYTimes commemorating Earth Day.  The headline?  “Bad Weather Forces Change in Bush’s Earth Day Plans.” (What could be more degrading than an article about Earth Day that isn’t about the day, and isn’t even a contrived photo of Bush against a nature backdrop, but is about the fact Bush had to cancel plans for his pseudo-compassionate photo op due to bad weather?)

  If I was Mother Nature, I’d be looking to fire my entire p.r. staff and all my lobbyists.

From the image, it seems like the Times perceived this event as something to be taken quite lightly.  In depicting just a couple people milling around, the implication is that the issue isn’t a draw, and that there is not much of a constituency either for the event or the cause.  The fact that several of the people that are present are obscured; the main figure in jeans has his upper body cut off; and the guy in the distant center looks like he’s walking away, is just that much more negating.  Of course, the bear reinforces the idea that enviros are just a bunch of wackos.  The capitol building — so tiny in relation to these other non-entities, particularly the half-a-bear — just takes the whole thing down even further.

(Caption:  While President Bush spoke in Tennessee of the need to expand the economy and “at the same time, be wise stewards of the land,”  opponents of oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including one dressed as a polar bear, held an Earth Day event in Washington.)

(image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.  April 23, 2005 in The New York Times, p. A8 )

  • George Johnston

    Personally, I thought it was Mother Nature’s way of telling Bush that she is really, really pissed at him.
    It only looked like rain.

  • CK

    The bear, a symbol of wacko’s? Thats just a little kid man, look at the proportions. They’ve been wearing that outfit since Halloween. I visit your site often and read almost all of your postings and have to say that sometimes you really reach for analysis where there is none.

  • jillian

    At first glance I thought it was someone dressed as Chewbacca at a StarWars convention.

  • Rhondda

    The mainstream media is into trivializing anything that smacks of dissent to the dominant culture’s priorities. Off with their heads. Did an ant take this picture?

  • Ros

    I can imagine why someone took the photo; I can’t imagine why an editor chose it. But here goes… The Capitol (government) is pointing straight up at the guy’s crotch. At the same time, the bear (nature) is reaching for the guy’s crotch. Meanwhile, the woman looks like she’s leaning back against the guy’s leg. All the energy and focus in the photo are converging at his crotch. Maybe this is the average American male being castrated by the government and at the mercy of nature (more powerful and frightening than terrorists) while at the same time still feeling responsible for protecting and supporting his family.
    The cheap and artificial bear represents the domestication of real nature since it converts a potentially dangerous and wild animal into a cute and cuddly symbol, thus ignoring the side of nature red in tooth and claw. More importantly, it symbolizes our inability to take global warming and other immenent environmental disasters seriously.

  • gmoke

    CBS is promo-ing the “Everybody Loves Raymond” with a spot that says something like “snow leopards – 3000 left, spotted owls – 200 left, episodes of “Eveybody Loves Raymond – only 3 left.”
    It’s all about “Endangered Species,” isn’t it?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes