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December 14, 2010

Palin: The Presidential Study

Short of talking about this photo of Kent Conrad and his dog, a picture clogging the newswires as a distraction from any clearer look on “the great tax compromise” going down on Capitol Hill, nothing and nobody owns the attention of the visual media right now like Sarah does, for better or worse.

The latest image to surface is this one, a posed portrait of SP for a TIME slideshow labeled “Best Portraits of 2010.

Yes, for better or worse, as it seems it’s almost impossible to look at a picture of Palin these days without the photo serving as a stimulus for the left going on the attack and the right, well, also going on the attack.

At the risk of stirring either one of these hornet nests, however, I did collect two very different opinions about this photo. One well-trained eye, a woman I might add, felt the photo was a FAIL. Her exact words were that the photo made Palin look “like an android.”  Compare that to another woman I talked to who felt the shot did well by Palin as it not only shows her giving herself seriously to the camera but also presented her “looking her age.”

For my money, this photo previews and ushers a strategic shift in how Palin plans to present herself to the public as 2012 comes into view.  Call it a “high-low” approach mixing a more serious, more “presidential” image, as represented here, with that more vigorous and kinetic, more outrageous and sexy, more shoot-from-the-hip Palin we all know and love (or the opposite).  But then, if the aim of this photo is that greater depth and gravitas, the question is, how successful is it?

So far, I’d call it a work-in-progress. The tension in Palin’s neck suggests some strain or discomfort… although who knows why.  Maybe Sarah wasn’t comfortable presenting herself in such a formal way — with almost a matronly air.  Maybe she’s not that comfortable (yet) if she isn’t joshing, proud and brash.  Or maybe nobody, even Palin, really knows who she is with her guard down.

  • black dog barking

    They may have been shooting for “matron”, only got as far as “intake-processor, Mustang Ranch” to my non-nuanced eye. That’s the face of someone that just got some very bad news, like maybe the cancer was inoperable or something. Presidential? Hardly.

  • Enoch Root

    [Speaking through telepathy..] “Hello. I am Sarah Palin. I am from the future, where dressmakers are paid by the inch of collar. We have mastered telepathy, obviously, which was a bad thing for me since no one needed Facebook after that. I hope to be your President, one day, but ever since it’s become legal for parodies to run for office, it’s hard for me to run as myself.”

  • bystander

    Oh, Michael. Where is that New Yorker caricature of Palin in the red dress (suit?) with the head and neck emerging eerily from the collar? Oh, yeah. What a contrast, but the head still seems to be “floating” in space to me. I don’t find the photo to be particularly “kind” to Sarah. What I get from it is Sarah detached.

  • Julia Grey

    Horrifying. The questing, half-open mouth, the puzzled look in her eye, the tensed, aged neck. Without the beauty-queen smile she is almost unrecognizable.

    She doesn’t look serious or intellectually weighty, she looks LOST.

    Caught halfway between her past as woman who has always traded on flirtatiousness and beauty, using them to cover her other failings, and her future as a woman who will no longer be able to deploy the camouflage, who will have to approach the world another way. How? Will it even be possible for a woman like Sarah Palin?

  • Sully

    I am not a witch. I am your future President. Yes, it scares me too.

  • http://cheetahmaster.livejournal.com/ PMMDJ

    I’m not sure why everyone thinks she’s going to run for president. I mean, why would she want to give up all this power she has?

  • playera

    Strange portrait. She doesn’t look like the Sarah we’ve always seen. Her face looks different. Maybe older or just different. This portrait is like seeing someone famous at the airport and not being sure if it really is that famous movie star or athlete.

    And, her hands look older than mine. Plus age spots(?) all over her arm.

    She used little or no makeup.

  • Stella

    American women – all about hair, jewelry, clothes and makeup. Oh yeah, and a dash of patriotism. This is a perfectly Republican photo.

  • http://www.wolfenotes.com wolfe

    The tension in Palin’s neck looks due to an attempt to firm up her breasts and suck in her gut.

  • Stanley Wiggs

    It’s too obviously different than the way she has been presenting herself. The styling is tortured, slightly off, manipulative.

    At first glance it looks almost like a track suit . . . with dressy earrings.

    The bulging veins in her hands make her look tense and dehydrated.

  • Gasho

    If this somehow has something to do with her shooting for the presidency, as the comments suggest, I instantly see tons of grey hair and baggy eyes (ala H.Clinton!).

    I see vulnerability in the open jacket.

    I see deer in the headlights on any inkling of a tough issue.

    Then I remember that she’d never get far enough to get the bags under her eyes because we’d get : “I QUIT !! I Quit. Forget all of you, I’m better than this – I Quit.” – probably around week 2 (of being president elect).

  • happyfungirl

    I don’t like Sarah Palin, because I have heard her talk, but I like this picture of her. She looks like something she is not -thoughtful, measured, serious, focused, and not particularly concerned about herself or her looks, while she is nonetheless an attractive woman. (stupid omnipresent flag pin excepted)

    Maybe that’s it – she looks like a competent adult woman here.

    Too bad it’s just a picture.

  • Sharkbabe

    1) She’s trying to prove she can be as fug as Newt Gingrich, lest his fug out-gravitas her in Iowa.

    2) No dummy, she’s studied her Madonna 101 – go different, keep em talkin – sexy MILF out, you-want-a-piece-of-me crazy thug bitch in.

    3) Those hands! Oh well, I suppose everybody’s into “Twilight.” Or was that last year. Anyway – be afraid.

    4) Neckline says “bewbies ahoy!” But bewbies saying “meh, we in flattened posture, go away. sarah iz srious woman.”

    5) Did they photoshop in some Bar Bush neck for still more fascist-feminine gravitas?

    6) That red just SUCKS compared to the kicky, real-Sarah red.

    7) “Look menacing, Sarah! Beautiful! Give me disdain, disgust – yes! Perfect!”

    anyway, just some thoughts

  • http://youwillsuffermylove.publicpraxis.com Thomas

    I keep trying to perform a psychological thought experiment on myself and failing. I’m trying to look at this picture as if it was the year 2000 and a time traveler from 2014 appeared with this photograph and informed me that this was what the first female president of the US looked like. And then, looking at it this way I’ve been trying to ask myself if I could believe this visual rhetoric (does she look ‘presidential’?).

    If I didn’t know anything about Palin, if I didn’t know anything about her politics or even her party affiliation, would I think that this is how the first female president ’should’ look?

    The reason why this thought experiment keeps failing is that I can’t unsee Palin in this photograph, and I think that this is what will ultimately make it so difficult for her to look ‘presidential.’ We’d have to forget who it was in order to believe the imagery.

    The best I can do when I try to unsee Palin, is that she paradoxically doesn’t look so much unpresidential so much as she looks unamerican. I don’t mean unamerican as a slam, I don’t mean unpatriotic, I mean that there is something about the styling of this image (maybe the deep black background with the lighting) that makes here look more European than American. I find it easier to believe that this is a portrait of the Prime Minister of Italy than the President of the United States (forgetting the silly flag pin of course).

    • g

      I love the way you approached this.

    • boomerangst

      I too tried to “unsee” Palin here and can’t get her smug, sneering voice out of my mind. I felt a great sadness when trying to see her as what the first female President could possibly look like. I’m distracted by the dangling earrings, the long hair, the bizarre collar, the too-big flag pin, and the hands with the huge veins. I feel such revulsion for this woman.

  • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Arel Harry R. Sohl

    TBogg may be onto something – without her Bumpit she’s hardly recognizable.

    As “America’s half-assed, half-term half-wit”.©

  • yg bluig

    Two things jumped out at me.
    The first, I agree with your women photographer friend. Until I read the copy, I thought it was a statue from a wax museum.

    The second, the less serious Palin is demonstrated to be, the larger her flag pins become. I suspect by 2012, her flag pin will have grown so large, there will be a secret service team dedicated to moving it around.

  • g

    What’s interesting about this photo is that it omits almost all of the features that fans and foes of Palin associate with her. Spunky? No. Woman-of-the-people? No, not this remote being. Sexy? No – the body is almost androgynous. Charming – I read that Palin is very engaging and charming in person – but that’s not in this photo. Irreverent? Casual? Outdoorsy? Loving mother? No, no, no, and no. The perky, flirty bumpit and disheveled hair – completely gone.

    This photo renders her almost unrecognizable. If it were not labeled Sarah Palin, I might have thought it were some VP of Finance of some business firm.

    Minor quibbly – why have the background the same shade as the subject’s hair

  • g

    What’s interesting about this photo is that it omits almost all of the features that fans and foes of Palin associate with her. Spunky? No. Woman-of-the-people? No, not this remote being. Sexy? No – the body is almost androgynous. Charming – I read that Palin is very engaging and charming in person – but that’s not in this photo. Irreverent? Casual? Outdoorsy? Loving mother? No, no, no, and no. The perky, flirty bumpit and disheveled hair – completely gone.

    This photo renders her almost unrecognizable. If it were not labeled Sarah Palin, I might have thought it were some VP of Finance of some business firm.

    Minor quibble – why have the background the same shade as the subject’s hair?

  • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Arel Harry R. Sohl

    Another funny thing about TBogg’s post – it’s exactly the opposite of here. There, you see the picture of Palin as we all normally see her, but have to read the caption to get the story:

    “Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, center, has her hair done during a visit to a cholera treatment center”.

    Yes, that’s the Palin we all know. Gettin’ her “flirty” bumpit fixed for the “cholerers”.

  • tinwoman

    What got me was the glowing eyes. That is a picture to scare small children. I am very ready to see the flirty, grinning Palin after looking at this. Yikes.

  • glogrrl

    Sarah Palin, new leader from “V”, presents herself to her subjects on earth.

  • Patsy

    No, can’t imagine whose idea this was, or who let it get out. Not working in any way. The first thing you see is the gap between buttons one and two of the terrible dress, which then leads you to look at all the other terrible things about the dress and how it sits on her, and who she is in it, and then the face. Not working.

  • Glenn May

    I think the Bag should be included in the list of media outlets foolishly giving this women the attention she craves and the media exposure she needs. Hating her will not make her go away; only ignoring her can. She has done nothing to merit the kind of attention that Time or the Bag is awarding her.
    One of the best things about the Wikileaks situation is that it has pushed this non-entity out of the headlines (even when she inevitably tried to get her slice of the media spotlight on the issue, the reaction was muted).
    Find something more meaningful to focus on, and stop playing into Palin’s hands.

  • Flashy

    I think it’s a picture of a vampire, the big collar, pale skin, all dressed in red to hide the blood stains, emerging from the dark… need I say more.

  • Pingback: Palin: The Presidential Study - BagNews Notes

  • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

    Since she quit her post in Alaska, Palin hasn’t run for public office but still plays the part of politician who calls her constituents “fans.” What exactly does she do other than essentially proposition her self and image to the highest bidder? Sounds like Sarah is America’s highest paid escort! See how down and dirty she’ll get for the money at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/06/ecstasy-of-sarah-palin_15.html

    • http://zautos.com/ Paul Erna

      Everything is for sale to the highest bidder?

      Look at this.. It’s public http://zautos.com/bobby-brown-serves-nine-hours-in-jail-for-third-dui/

      Bobby Brown Serves Nine Hours in Jail for Third DUI

      While California is known for having some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation, it seems Bobby Brown has been let off easy. He was released Wednesday after serving nine hours of his 55-day jail sentence for driving under the influence.

      L.A. County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told the media that Brown was released early due to jail overcrowding and good behavior.

      Would they have let us out?

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