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February 1, 2011

Iowa ‘12: Tiny Tim

I’d call this a little visual media pushback against the almost perpetual presidential campaign cycle.  (And I don’t blame Getty’s Chip Somodevilla, who has to endure so much of this insufferable dog-and-pony business, a bit for it.)

But then, what is the image saying exactly, given GOP-hopeful Tim Pawlenty in the center of this blue jean crew at his book signing at a Christian bookstore in “first in the nation” Iowa with everybody’s head cut off? Unless just some latent hostility on Chip’s part, Maybe it’s just a tongue-in-cheek statement about the thorough anonymity of such exercises, also stressing “Tiny Tim’s” status (way back there) as an unknown right now — the point driven home by five copies (at an especially painful distance, if that’s the main selling feature) of a book making Tim out less as Tim, than as a male stand-in for Sarah Palin.

And here’s our second pic at Tumblr.

Slide show: Former Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty Promotes His Book In Iowa

(photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talks to reporters after signing copies of his new book, “Courage to Stand,” at the Family Christian Book Store January 30, 2011 in Ankeny, Iowa. Pawlenty is eyeing a run for the GOP presidential nomination and has made several trips to Iowa, which will be holding its famous “first in the nation” caucus in about a year.)

  • black dog barking

    I can’t imagine Mr Pawlenty’s prose inspires anything remotely resembling the experience I expect when I spend discretionary $$ on printed and bound reading material. In fact, I imagine not having a (metaphoric) head is pretty much a prerequisite to willing attendance at a Pawlenty book signing event.

    As to the photographer’s intent in these croppings, I’d say “accurate observation” is as likely an explanation as either satire or latent hostility. Headless hand waving — American electoral politics 2011. What else do we viewers need to know?

  • Vvoter

    At the very least, this photo shows us what bad taste looks like. It may seem petty, no doubt, for me to point out the egregious fashion rules being violated in this photo, but when understood in terms of political aesthetics, I think we have something substantive to work with.

    Here’s what I mean: poor taste in personal attire (does not necessarily but) can indicate the presence of an aesthetic deficiency more generally, one that applies to political taste as well. Take the figure on our left. Black leather shoes, nondescript jeans, and windbreaker make an unsightly ensemble. Next figure over sports black shirt and silk tie with jeans (a big no-no) and athletic shoes. It’s all mixed up. Skip TPaw’s figure, and the next three figures could get a pass, except as a group, they’re drab, gray, and boring.

    Cheap shot? Not if there’s any chance that these guys’ fashion sophistication reflects their political sophistication. Remember, winning the presidency in the age of Obama will require vitality, charisma, sex appeal, and gravitas – all of which are glaringly absent in this photo.

    • momly

      The outfits you are seeing are standard issue uniform for young evangelical go getters. The dark colors represent reverence (think black clerical garb) and the blue jeans represent hip “with it” cultural identity. Go to any mega church and you’ll see the PASTOR wearing much the same.

      At least it isn’t Rick Warren’s huge billowing flower print shirts!

  • inkmatt

    What I see is the distance between consumption and desire that runs through American society today. Consider “Pawlenty” – not the man, but the image, a political analog of the pursuit of individual freedom through mass-consumption. Books, long seen as an instrument of self-cultivation, here become a tool for conformism. If the brand of politics practiced today is politics as branding, then its ephemeral highs must necessarily leave its consumers looking for more. The boxes on the floor reflect this sense of emptiness and demand; the bodies posing as display racks convey something of its bathos; both reveal something of the human. Behind the glossy book-covers and obscured by the media glare lies the mundane reality we all endure, a fact captured by the clothing. Tasteful or not, those schlumpy jeans, identically purchased but differently worn, offer some evidence of lives actually lived, which is more than most political manifestos do nowadays.

  • Gasho

    After reading the Bag now for, gosh, about a million years.. I have internalized many of the photographic critiques discussed over and over. I’ve become much more aware as a photographer and I can’t stand cutting people’s heads off (unless intentionally). I’m very aware of positioning people’s image near pointy objects, trash cans, or words on signs.

    I would think that professional photographers enjoy/suffer more photo critiques than I do, so they, too, must be acutely aware of these issues. Cutting off the whole tops of a group like this CANNOT be a mistake.

    I think the other commenters’ comments have pretty much summed it up.

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