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May 6, 2005

Overwhelming Support

Economistblair

I was looking at this cover all day yesterday.  Basically, I was trying to understand why it made me feel so good. 

If you’ve been following the BAG, you know I (along with my readers and co-analysts) have spent a lot of time reading The Economist covers.  (Among the highlights, we’ve done The Iron — the thumbnail of which is over there in my third column; the iPod Mice; the Spy Flies; and, of course, the infamous Betty Boop.)  I may not care much for TE’s politics or their big business orientation.  However, I have a great respect for their understanding of the way pictures tell stories.

But, back to the "feel good" question. 

I’m sure you have had the experience of sitting around somewhere and suddenly realizing you’ve been vicariously swept up in an intimate moment between a couple, or between a parent and child.  In analyzing my "feel good" sensation, what I realize is that the sentiment isn’t coming directly from the picture.  Where it is coming from, I’m pretty sure, is from the feeling generated by the magazine for Blair. 

Now, it’s not like people out there don’t know Tony.  He may be diligent and he may have good survival skills, but he is not particularly known for his stature and his charisma has been on the wane.  That being said, to find this much charm and that little tension in such a portrait — this could only be generated from a lover’s eye.

(image: The Economist Magazine – May 7th 2005. Front cover)

  • henri

    The color green soothes our primate mind. We have an emotional response when surrounded by the color. neuro activity changes. intrinsically, green means food sources; it means water and fertility. As we humans developed our ideas, we’ve learned to attach complex meaning to color identification. For example, blue can mean sadness or depression.
    The color green can mean many things, but specific to the war on Iraq and Blair’s immediate politic turmoil, intellectually green may also be the backdrop for reassuring the “tony blair image” to Islamic audiences. The color green means Islam.
    So, there is tony, hair tossed, as if he endured a turbulent wind that has now all but passed him by. He looks off to the side, head slightly raised, slightly stoic. There is no immediate object shown. Tony looks into the infinity– to the future. Adorned in the colors of the union jack, he looks like a captain on the bow of a ship in a sea of Islam.
    I feel such security from this picture. Triumphant and refreshed, yet sickened by the US-UK navigation, and my intellect says “whoa, just wait one minute mr blair, let us off.”
    Green refreshes the soul. tony’s image goes heroic. his hair: Thatcher-esqe.
    (then again, he also looks like a young mate who just got his head swirled around in the loo….)

  • The BAG

    …So it’s not just the greening of The Economist?

  • henri

    BAG:
    to the contrary, the image is as you suggest: a construction by The Economist.
    my tongue-n-cheek is too vague. His ship is put beneath his feet by those who craft “the captain on the bow”. he hardly acts as vile as good o’thatcher. His hair might argue that point- and the sense of security is false, regardless of what I think I am directed* to see in the imagery.
    *Naturally, The Economist is the director in this farce.

  • Asta

    The image conjures good feelings because Tony is having such good feelings. He is facing into a refreshing springtime breeze, love is in the air, the earth is a lush green. Is he in a meadow running towards the object of his affection? There is an expression on his face that says, “Take my hand, run with me through this beautiful field. Life is a picnic!”
    Then he and George go and milk a few Shetland ponies.
    (Sorry, I’m feeling rather snarky today after learning that he got his third term. Must really chap W’s bum that he can’t have a third term, too.)

  • jefrog

    He’s Left of Center in the frame…. Wishful thinking? (Nice ponie-milking reference, Asta. It’s a shame the BAG can’t deconstruct Laura’s stand-up act.)

  • jefrog

    He’s Left of Center in the frame…. Wishful thinking? (Nice pony-milking reference, Asta. It’s a shame the BAG can’t deconstruct Laura’s stand-up act.)

  • George Myers

    He had some fasmily photos sent to the chemists I seem to remember went into the public “family photos”. Use for “kudzoo” that green weed introduced to control erosion in the “New South” that grows as a phenomena. It works great at the new primate house at the Bronx Zoo in NY. Something about having it at their backs calms gorillas! So they will look at humans looking at them. Doesn’t work for me looking at Tony Blair however. THanks for him on the radio warning about human rights maybe disappearing at Gitmo, around the corner form Columbus’ Cape Maysi where the “last slaver” “Wanderer” sunk in a storm. It had outrun the British blockade as a luxury yacht even boarded by the British Navy, and put in at Jekyll Island, Georgia in 1859. (Built in Setauket, NY) How to kick off a Civil War?

  • Gaianne

    Well said, snarks and all.
    The Economist loves this guy. They want us to love him too. Creeps.

  • Sonoma

    “…charm…tension”.
    It might well be I’m just a hell of a lot older than the caption writer, but there is no charm or tension to be found in any photo that features that motherfucking pissant, who led his nation to war based on a Big Lie. He is a murderous swine. He is one of the handful of individuals who might have put a stop to the Bushite nightmare, but chose to play ball instead.
    (I really don’t like that guy).

  • vermont buffalo

    perhaps its a feel-good shot because he is facing a very strong wind from his left.

  • Mujaheed

    Actually charisma is the only thing he was known for when he first led the Labour Party to victory in 1997.
    Too many old people with memories of the 18-year-reign of the Tories would rather support this mendacious bastard than risk having the Tories back in government.
    We live in hope that an internal coup will displace Bliar soon!
    (Perhaps he will be arrested and charged with war crimes in Germany…)

  • http://www.slyfelinos.com/slyblog/ jillian

    The color usage really sets the tone, I think. I agree with first poster about the psychological tones of green.
    He looks like he is on a boat…looking forward. Steering the SS England into the future?

  • MonsieurGonzo

    The people and the political class are at one: neither wants to face the future.
    Blair never detached from the Bush mind-meld…
    …his messianic gaze the mask of a tragic dupe.
    (and finally, your Edward Tufte “moment of Zen”… get your U.K. vote on ;-)

  • hauksdottir

    That photo is cropped and the green added. He is walking with Brown. It looks like it was snapped at almost the same instant as this one by Stephen Hird — Associated Press:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2005/05/07/PH2005050700991.html

  • Asta

    Good catch, hauksdottir. It IS the same Kodak Moment, but without the pleasing greens.

  • http://cadmus.blogspot.com victor falk

    What I find puzzling is the contrast between the covers of the American and British/European editions, and how they mirror each other.
    The American is positive, Blair smiling, looking in the ‘right’ direction (left to right, as when reading), and with a title fit for a wonderful story; definetly a picture that could be “viewed from from a lover’s eye”.
    The British/European cover is simply called “Ouch”. Ouch indeed: there we see Blair’s left profile so that he gazes in the ‘wrong’ direction, as in Goya’s tres de mayo.
    He’s pouting, in a manner that seems arrogant to me. or at least teeth-clenching; the way a lover looks like in a bitter quarrel?
    Even the background colour conveys the same idea: instead of the green evoking forrests, seas and nature (as noted by commenters above), it’s an ominous reddish brown; a sky of smoke and blood.
    It reflects my personal ambilavence towards Blair very well: admiration for reforming the welfare state without embracing the vulgar and coarse spencer-ism of so many ‘neoliberals’, but dismay at his following the follies of the Bush admin.
    But that’s contrary to the Economist’s point of view: while supporting the Iraq invasion, the editorial page often finds Blair not laissez-faireist enough for its taste.
    Or, maybe what’s green to me is red to TE, and vice-versa.
    As to why who got what, I’m reminded of the Iraqi proverb “with my brother agaisnt my cousin, with my cousin against my clan, with my clan againt everyboy else”. Is that so that Americans are cousins in the Anglo-Saxon clan, but not national brothers, and that you keep the dirty laundry within the (closer) family?

  • jefrog

    I think it’s that to us Yanks, Blair represents a lefty, especially when compared to the man in the White House, whereas Brits, who live with (and under) him, know better, or at least parse more finely. (And at least your third party can make a respectable showing and still not hand the country over to the Tories.)

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