Friday, December 11, 2009

WhiteHouse.Gov- A Polioptic Analysis

Thinking about guest speaker Joshua King’s lecture, I decided to go explore the White House website and see what principles of “polioptics” I could uncover in President Obama’s “Photo and Video” section. The link takes you directly to a scrolling slide show of Obama’s “Photos of the Day” from the past month. These pictures have clearly been selected and formulated to depict a broad range of things—both “normal,” everyday-type images and shots of Obama in meetings or at speeches. Knowing what I now do about polioptics, I find it difficult to look at any picture of the President and/or his family without thinking about how planned it must be. Even the picture of Bo, the family dog, looking happy in front of a White House Christmas tree, I now know has been expressly taken and chosen to portray Obama in a certain way--- in this case, a normal, pet-loving, Christian family man. Another interesting thing about this photo section is the number of images depicting the apparently fairy-tale-esque relationship of Barack and Michelle Obama. There are pictures of them doing everything from waltzing gracefully at the Nobel Banquet to smiling with their daughters, always looking happily in love. Again, the inclusion of these images is clearly with the aim of showing Obama as a wholesome, caring man, a good husband and father. The video section shows a similar breadth; there are many videos of Obama’s speeches and conferences, but also many of him doing other, “normal” things, like lighting a Christmas tree or this one of him visiting an Allentown, PA factory to “take the temperature on what Americans are experiencing during these challenging economic times.”

This video is clearly supposed to show working viewers that Obama cares about their experience. Like everything else in this section, though, it has clearly been expressly formulated, as Joshua King suggested with his lecture on polioptics, to project a pre-determined image of President Obama; nothing is candid, and every move he makes has been pre-planned.


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