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September 3, 2008

RNC Wednesday Wrap-Up: Mothers And Forefathers

Palin Mt. Rushmore

Helping bridge Sarah Palin’s self-avowed  (and clearly evidenced) pit bull role, the RNC flashed large scenes behind her evoking the American landscape. There was a soaring shot of the arch in St. Louis, another of farm fields, still another of a ferris wheel at dusk.

My favorite, though, was Palin juxtaposed with Mt. Rushmore.  Reminiscent of this classic Rove move (or this folly the NYT WIR concocted right after Bush’s second inaugural), the association was meant to visually bestow a little more gravitas, a connection that much more amenable because of all the Alaska mountain imagery also ubiquitous this week.

You can never tell exactly how precisely those TV cutaways are tied to specific parts of a speech, but my tweet on this one read: Extra-long isolation shot of Palin with Mt. Rushmore on the mega-screen (while attacking “the old boy network”).  If the timing was intentional, it seems that the gender contrast might have been still another part of the package.

Actually, although I didn’t much evidence tonight of a Hillary comparison, the shot also brought this in mind).

Update: Rachel Hulin, the “blog stewardess” at Photoshelter, wrote me about one more Palin backdrop I happened to miss.  It’s the lead one in her post.  It’s a wonderful blend of allusions — both to faith (“Old Faithful”) as well as a phallic, if naturalistic expression of power.  As I read more about Palin and her temperament, the analogy to explosion (akin to McCain’s own wiring) also seems fitting here.

(image:  Reuters.  caption: Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St Paul, Minnesota, September 3, 2008.  linked image: NYTimes Week In Review 1/23/05; images: Bettmann/Corbis and Paul Morse/White House via Getty Images)

  • Roschelle

    A mediocre speech at best..but presented very well. Even so I still don’t know who Sarah Palin is!

  • mj

    Weak speech.. Said nothing at all about the issues.
    The large screen behind the speakers makes me think of a 1984 scene of Big Brother and Hate Week.

  • donna

    Attack, attack, attack… it’s all they’ve got.
    Their ‘Reformer” took over $30 million in Fed funds for her city and still left it $20 million in debt. Some reform. Alaska has all that oil money and still takes in more fed funds per capita than any other state. Some reform.

  • g

    Except for the fact that there are no purple-heart bandaids, the evening was just a re-run of the ugliness of the 2004 convention. Ugliness, hate, lies and divisive politics is all they have.
    they wrote a speech full of lies and hatred for someone to deliver before they even picked her.
    she did a fine job of delivering it. When they go prowling down by the railroad tracks looking for homeless guys to beat up, Sarah’s gonna be one of the ones carrying a baseball bat.

  • black dog barking

    Advances in stagecraft mean the public speaker needn’t engage flights of rhetoric to free the imaginations of the audience. Just stand there, read competently, and let the giganto pictures do their thing. The words are not the message here and in fact one of the goals is to get through this speech without resorting to any consequential words.
    Nothing says “Authority” like massive faces carved in stone. So much for “Change”. In the language of giant blocks of stone Change is something measured by the few million years it takes wind and rain to work their magic as agents of entropy. This kind of visual symbolism works only because the audience knows what they’re supposed to be thinking before the speech starts — a willful suspension of credulity. The Modern Republican Party, Giving Unvoiced Assent To Your Preconceptions!!™

  • lemondloulou

    The choice of imagery is particularly amusing because she has never been to any of the places they’ve got her standing in front of. The Hillary shot is one thing: she had to endure 18 months on the trail to get to Rushmore. All Sarah has to do –and apparently she didn’t think too long about whether or not it was worth it– to become the flag bearer for the Republican Party is turn her oldest daughter into a worldwide pariah and her youngest son into a poster boy for down’s syndrome. As my mother used to say to me when I was a 17 year old: Is there no decency, is there no decorum?

  • Rev. Al

    I particularly liked the photo from the Wall Street Journal which was used to illustrate my post on the Palin speech here:
    I found this photo particularly interesting in light of our “Obama phallic images” discussion here in recent weeks. The phallic Washington Monument coming out of Palin’s head seems to impale her.
    Combine the Washington Monument with Palin’s right-hand salute, and the WSJ selection of this photo is particularly interesting.
    Does use of this particular image have anything to do with WSJ journalist (and former Reagan / Bush Sr. speechwriter) Peggy Noonan’s skewering of Palin as the v.p. choice? (Discussion, link to audio / visual of that “skewering” is also contained in my post linked above.)
    (Hope references to my blog post aren’t too self-serving — just intended to add to the discussion here.)
    Keep up the great work!

  • Dusty

    Palin looks unimportant, as if she’s working at a tourist center, giving a talk about Mt. Rushmore, but she doesn’t belong to it. The unexpected line of trees in front of the camera provides a peculiar degree of separation, whereas Clinton and Bush were framed in such a way as to be a part of the monument. The faces on the monument itself are small themselves, as distant and remote from the viewer as Palin herself is. It’s not a particularly strong shot of Mt. Rushmore, really, as though they tried to find an image that would convey the meaning without being too majestic or overwhelming to the speaker in the foreground.

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