Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Off Presidential Debates and Stalin

I probably should have written this a while back, but I totally forgot about it. I am talking about the incessant focus on aesthetics prior to the first presidential debate. The focus at the time seemed to be more on how the candidates would look, then what they would say. The famous 38 page MOU specified things like lighting, height of podium, temperature of the room, lighting in the room among other things that had little to do with what the debate would be about. Pundit after pundit reminded us that Nixon lost due to his "Sweating" during the first debate. Dukakis used a lift to look taller than he was etc. One would be forgiven for thinking that Americans are shallow bustards who care more about appearance than substance. During the debate, the cut away shots clear showed an elevated podium for the president and the post debate analysis focused on the President's scowling and other physical attributes, not what was said. I for one watched the whole debate, but I did not realize that Bush was scowling etc. I focused on what the candidates were saying, at the end of the debate I could not comprehend why sow much attention was paid to the aesthetics of the whole debate.

Where does Stalin come in. Well, last night I was watching a documentary on the "History Channel" titled Stalin Man Of Steel. Of particular interest to me (apart from the Gulags and carnage) was Stalin's use of imagery to create the illusion that all was fine. He would were boosts to seem taller, manipulate pictures to have larger shoulders, manipulate pictures to get rid of his double chin and forms of propaganda. He tried to pull sweeps wool over the eyes of his people. Much like the candidates manipulate images to suit their idealized view of themselves (to the point of manipulating pictures to increase the number of troops in attendance at a Bush rally). It is quite interesting that what Stalin did is considered propaganda, what candidates do (which is no different) is called "Stage craft". They both essentials lie to the viewer, and better picture that truly exists. It is quite unfortunate that we continually fall for such manipulations.


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