By now, many of you have read the still gathering storm that is the Jill Greenberg/McCain/Atlantic monthly debacle, in which Ms. Greenberg, aka the Manipulator (a term that is now meaningful on so many levels) during a commission for The Atlantic Monthly purposefully creates and then digitally enhances images of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain in a way that makes him appear,er, malevolent, to say the least. I don’t feel like posting the work here you can find it quite easily on any of the number of blogs that are and will be covering this topic. I just really need to say this:
1. Ms. Greenberg has succeeded in joining the ranks of Jason Blair, and Stephen Glass, in singlehandedly damaging the reputation of a respected magazine and by contributing to the public’s often poor perception of objectivity and ethics in journalism, (i don’t want to get into a debate about the possibility of objectivity – i agree it is impossible to be totally objective, but what is not impossible is to try one’s hardest to suspend one’s bias in the carrying out of work when working for a journalistic entity). I know she is not a journalist per se, but she was working for a news magazine, and therefore, (does this need to be spelled out??) she is expected to behave in keeping with the profession for the duration of her shoot and the post-production. This is a pretty reasonable expectation, which Ms. Greenberg subverts gleefuly with the comment,” Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for them [The Atlantic] to hire me.”
2. Ms. Greenberg has given the Republicans some fantastic material to mobilize anti-liberal sentiment.
3. Ms. Greenberg had every right to do what she did, legally. She negotiated a short embargo, the pictures were hers to do with what she would. Just like the Klu Klux Klan has a right to march around in sheets and burn crosses during public marches with the necessary permits. People have the right to do many unsavory things, but rights don’t always make it right.
3. The photographs that Ms. Greenberg has created are entirely in keeping with the infantile discourse about this election that is preventing us from delving deeply into any issues that will actually affect us. I don’t give a shite about hockey, pit-bulls, and lipstick, but this seems to be a great unifier for the American public. And don’t kid yourself, this cult of superficiality happens on both sides of the aisle (just look at Greenberg’s work). The American public might be better served by actually unplugging and reading some analysis in magazines like The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The National Review and using their own noggins, and poorly developed analytical skills to determine what one thinks is right for themselves. Yeah, that’s right, I said The National Review. You might actually want to familiarize yourself with both sides, so you can weigh and argue intelligently. (And yes, I assume everyone reading this blog is leaning to the democratic side, my apologies out there if I am incorrect).
4. I doubt that this is going to have huge lasting impact on her career, at least vis a vis Hollywood, where the tendency is to speak liberal while simultaneously putting movies out that are violent, sexually graphic, and demeaning towards women. (As an aside, does anyone else but me find it hypocritical that Angelina Jolie puts out some of the most violent movies out there – i truly appreciate her humanitarian efforts, but I find her choice in many movies to be at odds with the agenda she promotes off-set).
5. We can demonize people all we want, if it makes us feel like better people, but that is not going to make the world a better place. Be the change you wish to see in the world, Jill Greenberg. I have no idea what you stand for, your stand against John McCain hasn’t told me anything about him, but it’s told me a lot about you.
Oh yeah, and thanks a lot for making our jobs a whole lot harder. How long will embargoes be now? How much more paperwork are we going to have to sign? And no more cross-outs on the indemnity clauses. Yeah, it’s End Times, all right. But not the way she thinks.
PS Kind of scary too how bad her technique is when she goes off-piste. I can think of some much better executed portraits of evil.