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May 8, 2011

Framing Osama (and Obama)

Bin Laden rehearsing DoD

Now that the perceptual war surrounding the bin Laden operation has fully transitioned to the post-raid stage, I wanted to look at the first of two images the DoD has strategically used to undermine “the evil one.” This screenshot, which I imagine most of you have already seen, is an outtake extracted from the trove of video captured in Abbottabad showcasing bin Laden rehearsing, and apparently flubbing a line.

If the point here is that bin Laden was overly scripted — as well as overly concerned with his image, given the fact his beard is jet black while in other time-related pics and vids it is grey — I give the DoD and the White House about a D- for the effort. Not only does the DoD know too well today’s wars are fought as much on TV by celebrity brands (basic basic production techniques being standard-operating-procedure), so does the public.

Obama photo Staged bin Laden Announcement

That being the case — and given the fact Obama re-staged the walk-out and first 30 seconds of his announcement of bin Laden’s death for still cameras after he finished the live announcement on TV, this particular rip on bin Laden is a FAIL. (It’s also a little funny, by the way, that the DoD would be ripping bin Laden for being a TV star after the GOP spent months attacking the charismatic, but then fresh-faced candidate Obama back in ‘08 as “The Celebrity,” even likening him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton).

Let me just be clear. I’m not ripping the DoD for propaganda, I get that’s a big part of their business. What I’m ripping them for is weak propaganda, each failed effort having the effect of undermining the effective stuff.

(photo 1: U.S. Department of Defense via  Denver Post caption: Osama bin Laden speaks in an undated image taken from videos seized by Navy SEALs in last weekend’s raid and released Saturday. photo2 : Jason Reed/Reuters)

  • Anonymous

    Osama looks like a schnook, and maybe that’s why they had to get rid of him so quickly. If he were allowed to develop a fan club it would interfere with the message the administration is trying to preserve. Some unlikely people have fan clubs, even Hitler. There are many YouTube videos of Hitler reacting to various events – the Super Bowl, the academy awards, Donald Trump. It’s become a comic genre.

    It wouldn’t do to allow Osama-as-schnook to get much circulation, because schnooks are in their own way somewhat beloved. Just imagine a caption-this-photograph contest for the picture of Osama peering uncertainly to his right as if looking for directions.

    Ya want me to hold up the product?

    I’m supposed to smile?

    Whattaya mean, look sincere?

  • Dave Mclane

    Nothing new here except perhaps that a frame from a video is similar to the frames one can capture with most pro-sumer digitals (like my Nikon D300). People make strange faces when they’re speaking: all you have to do is look at a video (or one of the 6 frames/second my Nikon captures) to find one that makes the speaker look like a schnook. And vice versa.

  • Angela Cappetta

    These are both very interesting pictures.

  • Susan Donovan

    Dosen’t the dig against Osama in this image have more to do with undermining his image as an acetic holy man fighting an evil empire (us) — that authentic devout holy man would not use hair dye or care much about image.

    In contrast to this our leaders, (not just Obama) embrace modern media theatre. We all know that they have on face powder and lip gloss. We like it that way. People don’t look very good on camera without these things. Obama is the American president he has a little bit of movie star in him as all presidents do (some more than others…) –this has never been something that bothered the American people much.

    The image of Osama charges him with hypocrisy.

    I have another question… is it bad or dishonest (in your eyes) that aspects of these events are staged? I remember the walking out shot and I was very moved by it. Obama is symbolically all of us walking away from the emotional load that came with knowing the person most responsible for our injury has not been caught. I was very glad to see it. I don’t care that it was staged, or planned or rehearsed.

    I do care to know things about Osama that may reveil his true relation to that still living movement he lead– I wonder, as a child of wealth and privilege, how authentic his devotion is– I wonder if it is a game about power and respect to him or if it was really the only thing he thought he could to to be right the wrongs he saw in the world. I’m really curious what lets such a man come in to being (beyond money, which he had and used as he assumed his forces.)

    I want to know how much of it was a mask.

  • Dave Mclane

    I also want to know how much of it is a mask on both Obama and Osama. I don’t think this will come via the MSM as their task is to create the appropriate masks as to who’s the White Hat and who’s the Black Hat.

  • omen

    i’m surprised officials released the image of bin laden watching himself on tv with remote control in hand.

  • rbrooks
  • tinwoman

    Best of bin Laden Bloopers.  We wanna see ‘em. 

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