Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
May 10, 2009

Your Turn: Barack As Spock

Spock Obama NYT.jpg

To be honest, I couldn’t quite understand MoDo’s newspaper-Star Trek analogy in her column yesterday, but the photo-illustration caught my attention.

I was interested in your take on this.

(photo-illustration: unattributed)

  • charlie

    Barack kind of looks like Spock? I don’t see much going on here.

  • http://vicfitz82.livejournal.com Victor F

    I’m not learned in the Trek, but wasn’t Spock characterized by being calm, cool, and “rational?”

  • http://elinfinitoperpendicular.blogspot.com Emiliano Ricci

    That’s right, Spock was a cross between human and vulcan people, he had the cool, rational, and calm vulcanic features, but according to the sript is also capable of emotions (even if they are never seen during the show). Having a mathematical mind he was most of the time pessimistic towards the probabilities of success of the challenges the crue faced, nonetheless either capitain Kirk, more emotional and confident, got a lot of chance every time, or the emotional and confident features of pure human beings overweighed adverse probabilities.
    This could be a way of saying that Obama has no guts, or no self confidence (because if taken really seriously, Spock’s words would have had most of the missions aborted). Anyway, from all around the world, like here in Mexico, Obama’s image is quite different, because it takes a lot of courage to stay independent and get in touch with previous so called enemies like Chavez. Though, it’s not enough to redress US place in the world, nor to get out of the economic crisis.

  • Dizard

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Obama’s down for Star Trek?
    Or maybe a commentary on “The good of the many outweighs the good of the one, or the few.” The few in this case of course being big shot executives raking in huge bonuses the taxpayers paid for. I know Spock himself would be “furious” too.

  • http://theforgottenwar.blogspot.com Sergei Andropov

    I get the impression that it would make more sense if you knew Obama personally. I don’t, but since I was a radical centrist before I’d ever really even heard of Obama, I understood which parts of what he was saying were pure art and what parts were radical centrism. As it turns out, most of the so-called “soaring rhetoric” (“There is not a liberal America, and a conservative America, there is the United States of America”) is really iron-clad radical-centrist thinking. In other words, it’s the ideas themselves that are beautiful, not just the way they are presented. There’s no denying that Obama knows how to put together a sentence (for example, “If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer even if it’s not my grandparent,” from the 2004 speech, does all sorts of snifty technical things with rhythm breaking and syllable weight and so on), but when you get right down to it he really is a pretty boring guy, just one with surpassingly interesting ideas. We began to see this during the later part of the campaign, when he got into policy proposals, and it has gradually been becoming more accepted as we go on with his administration (e.g. this Saturday Night Live clip).

  • Lck

    I agree, Dowd’s article was content-free, but this article in Salon makes a better case:
    http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/2009/05/07/obama_spock/

  • http://justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com/ acm

    I don’t understand why we have to invoke Spock. if your goal is to say that he’s rational, you might more easily just say “Vulcan” or even invoke Tuvok:
    http://www.starfleet-knights.com/Pictures/tuvok.jpg

  • http://justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com/ acm

    so much for “automatically linked”…
    Tuvok picture

  • itwasntme

    Just silly, s’all.

  • wagonjak

    I think it’s hilarious, and I laughed out loud…I suspect Obama would laugh when he saw this too…
    Unlike Republicans, Dems usually have a great sense of humor!

  • Trii

    What, was everyone on this blog born yesterday? Obama conveys some of the best characteristics of Spock – cool, intelligent, thoughtful. Always the one “in control” while Kirk piled on – Spock could always deal with the fray, only in a different way than the thin skinned Kirk who went with his knuckles.
    In public Obama plays the rational Vulcan while signaling the “human” side that gets jokes and experiences deep emotion. This photo is a playful salute to all that.

  • Jim Wilson

    Let’s see, Obama as Spock in a Star Trek universe. The alternative: George Bush as Jack Bauer in a “24″ world. It’s a slam du….uh…an easy choice for me.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/Serr8d Serr8d

    Barack as Kirk?

  • mon_oeil

    It is incredible how much of what happens in the United States is viewed through a popular culture lens. Perhaps in reality, it is one colossal Disneyworld.

  • mon_oeil

    It is too bad with the ground-breaking roles of the Obamas, that in this image Uhura is relegated to the maid and mistress. Why not envision her as a Mae Jemison, or yet, since Barack has replaced Kirk as captain, as the First Lady of Space along side him. As viewers may recall, the character Uhura was itself groundbreaking as one of the first major black characters on a US TV series.

  • d

    Of my generation (I’m 40) Spock was THE touchstone as a kid. Far more than just pop culture, he was a true icon.
    Spock was not only cool customer, he was incalculably intelligent, super strong, utterly incorruptible–and yet had a deep passion that he kept buried while trying to pursue the greater good. We ALL wanted to BE Spock. It was only when I was much older that I picked up on the critique of Spock (in the show) as detached. I think that most Americans see him in that first, naive light–as a calm, rational, incorruptible force for good.
    The only “bad” thing about the image-association to me might be its de-mystification (and trivialization?) of the presidency.
    But think of it this way: when is the last time that we had a president who could even BEGIN to measure up to our television heros?
    p.s. to any Trekkies out there: Reagan is Commodore Decker, McCain is Capt. Tracey, Bush Jr. is Lt. Bailey, and Rush Limbaugh is Mudd’s wife. hah!

  • yg

    not really a trekkie, but one of the spock’s most quotable lines was “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
    mock if you must, mon_oeil, but spock ain’t a bad role model.
    i once had a professor who also worked at a large law firm. he admitted one of his regrets was that the corporate culture was such that he wasn’t allowed to express joy or exuberance after winning a big case. so i can understand that part of obama’s dispassion and objectivity stems from his lawyer training. obama has also written that in his youth he learned to modulate his affect in order to make whites around him feel comfortable.
    while i can understand it, sometimes his coolness makes me worry. i didn’t like his answer at all when he was asked about afghanistan’s new “rape law.” while he called it “abhorrent,” he didn’t act like it was abhorrent. especially when he deprioritized it to being less important than pursuing al qaeda. while that may be the truth, a more empathetic response might have won more pressure for change in the law. instead, it dampened it.
    while i don’t question his motives, i trust he wants to improve the nation and the world we live in. at the same time because of the public mask he wears, obama is an enigma.

  • miig

    learn how you can earn 100 usd a day from your own home! Just swiftly go here surveymoneymaker dot net

Refresh Archives

Random Notes