May 17, 2008

Robin Givhan on Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama in Vogue.

Vogue transforms:
If there is one word the picture seems to be aggressively striving to evoke, it would be "relaxed." McCain's studied repose is in direct contrast to the image she projects in campaign photographs in which she is pressed, polished and so stiffly poised that she often looks like a wax replica of a political spouse. There's nothing especially natural or nonchalant about her Vogue portrait. One can almost see the fingerprints of the assistant who adjusted her hands just so and one wonders how long she had to hold her head at what looks to be an uncomfortable angle. But the implied message is unmistakable: I am not a Stepford wife.
It's just more Stepfordish — isn't it? — to annihilate traces of Stepfordishness.

By contrast:
[Michelle] Obama's photos seemed crafted specifically to help the viewer imagine her in the role of first lady. She is a study in little black dresses, conservative pearls, preppy hair and restraint. Again, the implied message is unmistakable: I am neither subversive nor threatening. I am not some scary "other." I am Camelot with a tan.
Camelot with a tan.

Meanwhile, neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton has submitted to the transformative powers of Vogue. Would it help, and would it help more for Bill or for Hillary to do the posing? Hillary's hair, makeup, and fashion are fiercely controlled by someone (presumably, some team of experts), so it's no surprise she did not allow it. And tousling Bill up is too apt to be taken the wrong way. It's best that the Clintons remain unVogued — though, with hindsight, everything they did seems ill-fated. If only Hilary's hair had blown free while she lounged on a rock by the ocean. If only she'd — just once! — worn a dress — a diaphanous gown...

38 comments:

rhhardin said...

If only she'd — just once! — worn a dress — a diaphanous gown...

A sycophanous gown is for first ladies.

A diaphanous yellow pants suit for Hillary.

Gk phainein, to show. Epiphany. Fancy. Tiffany. Emphasis.

Worn for show.

Irene Done said...

Remember Cindy McCain back in 2000? She had really, really short, cropped hair and it was just such a different, almost defiant look, for a political spouse. It was also incredibly cute.

bwebster said...

If only she'd -- just once! -- worn...a diaphanous gown...

My eyes! My eyes! Gah! I wasn't prepared for that mental image this early in the morning.

Here's one back at you: Haley Barbour in a Speedo. ..bruce..

bearbee said...

Hillary Clinton - stick with bold, dynamic colors - reds, yellows, blues, and away from pasty pastels. And hands off the bags and wrinkles.

She never worried about making a fashion statement.

Ron said...

Hillary in that green JLo dress from a few years ago...


brrr...

Well, it's nice to see "diaphonus gown" be the phrase du jour at the blog today...

Bill in shorts -- now that would've been a bee in your bonnet!

George said...

We're going to hear the Jack and Jackie thing to death for the next six months. Unlike Mrs. Obama, much of Mrs. Kennedy-Onassis' charm came from her silence. As for the new Jack, have his medical records been released?

Of course, their offspring will be dribbled out to the media to win the celebukid-obsessed Mom vote.

Malia Ann!

Sasha!

What are they wearing? What do they play with? Are they protected from phthalates?

Tots in the White House? Ratings--through roof! Newsstand sales--ditto.

The McCains need to adopt another child and fast. Hmmm. Maybe a Chinese earthquake orphan. Be good for international relations, too.

Ron said...

Camelot with a tan? I dunno...isn't that kinda racist-sounding at least?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

"But the implied message is unmistakable: I can't stand Republicans."

vbspurs said...

So far, Bill Clinton has not been glammed up by Vogue. Hillary Clinton was offered a sitting and declined.

Yeah, and this caused a major falling out between Anna Wintour, the British vampire-editor of Vogue (as everyone knows from The Devil Wears Prada).

Look what Wintour said, when Hillary declined the offer back in February.

"Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female presidential hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine.

The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying. How has our country come to this?...This is America, not Saudi Arabia."


America, not Saudi Arabia! That is infinitely more insulting than Givhan' Reductio-ad-absurdum, "Camelot with a tan".

(That was bad enough, though. I can't imagine Fox News getting away with that commentary...)

Anna Wintour used to be madly in love, and huge social backers of the Clintons.

Remember this Vogue spread?

That was the year of the Monica scandal, when Wintour was called to remake the then First Lady into a smoking hot, sexy seductress.

This pose was pure Hollywood glam cheesecake, and it was great.

So it must've hurt Wintour enormously when Clinton decided she didn't need Galliano, but Gallup to win the Presidency.

Two Scorpio women. Love to be a fly in the room when they meet again.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Hey Ruth Anne, do you read John McCain's daughter's blog?

I'm going to write a blogpost about that soon.

It's great if you like to see BOTH McCains totally relaxed.

You'll never get this photo from MSM.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

Gotta wonder if Obama or McCain (I keep thinking of "McBain!" from the Simpsons when I hear his name!) will do the GQ thang...

reader_iam said...

Michelle Obama is no Jackie Kennedy. For one thing, whatever else one might say about Jackie, she was no whiner.

Also, I totally don't buy Cindy McCain as a Stepford wife. (I mean, I can see the reference in the photos, but as an actual person, no way.)

ricpic said...

What's this Hillary in the past tense business? She beat the tar out of Obama in West Virginia, a state that a winning Democratic candidate for president has always won. She beat him soundly in Pennsylvania and soundly in all of Indiana but the Gary vicinity. Clearly the white working class vote is trending sharply away from Obama. If the Dems have a death wish they'll make him their nominee. But if they do it will be based only on a reign of terror.

vbspurs said...

Michelle Obama is no Jackie Kennedy. For one thing, whatever else one might say about Jackie, she was no whiner.

An Obama supporter might retort that Old Joe allegedly paid off Jackie to stay with her husband/keep her mouth shut.

But not only is that hearsay, but the lady never once gave an interview to moan about about anything, except saving Grand Central Station.

Michelle Obama is no Jackie Kennedy.

Also, I totally don't buy Cindy McCain as a Stepford wife. (I mean, I can see the reference in the photos, but as an actual person, no way.)

No way. I mean, she's actually a little scary.

Like Brigitte Nielsen meets Dina Merrill.

And I say that in a GOOD way (I like Cindy McCain).

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Ooh, yeah, she does give off a bit of a Gitte vibe, Victoria. Good call.

vbspurs said...

Gitte vibe

Can we call McCain Flava-Flav? ;)

Here are two photos:

Dina Merrill
Brigitte Nielsen

They're both aggressive faces. I would even call them Aryan aggressive, if you know what I mean. Maybe that's what is off-putting to "some" people.

"McCain's studied repose is in direct contrast to the image she projects in campaign photographs in which she is pressed, polished and so stiffly poised that she often looks like a wax replica of a political spouse.

"Studied pose". "Pressed, Polished. Stiff". "Wax Replica".

Meh. Givhan only sees female empowerment when Condi struts around wearing Darth Vader boots.

Cheers,
Victoria

rightwingprof said...

Would somebody please explain why anyone would care, much less read, what a "fashion" writer has to say about anything?

blake said...

Aryan aggressive, yes, like "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS". Heh.

Or (less offensively) Brunhilda ("ready for battle"). It's a look that says "I do not suffer fools gladly--or at all."

rightwingprof,

Givhan is a part of the Althouse tradition. Ann even did a vlog with her, IIRC.

Since a running theme here is the non-verbal messages that are used to persuade us, fashion is a big part of that.

Plus, you know, Althouse is a girl. [duck]

vbspurs said...

Aryan aggressive, yes, like "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS". Heh.

Heh. I looked it up.

Obviously geered towards the feverish lesbian fantasies men have.

But I am reminded of the real concentration camp demon, which I assume inspired this genre:

Irma Grese

Called The Beast or Beauty of Belsen. You know, I just don't see it.

;)

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

I believe that's who "Ilsa" was (very, very loosely) based on.

She was hugely demonized after the war, I think, and ended up being punished for a lot of things that had never happened.

Not that what she did wasn't plenty horrible.

Helen Cadogan said...

Vogue rhapsodizes thus: "[Michelle] Obama's photos seemed crafted specifically to help the viewer imagine her in the role of first lady. She is a study in little black dresses, conservative pearls, preppy hair and restraint. Again, the implied message is unmistakable: I am neither subversive nor threatening. I am not some scary "other." I am Camelot with a tan."

Oh, please!

If Michelle Obama were to remain just a picture on the wall, she might make an excellent first lady. Unfortunately, Michelle Obama speaks and moves. When she does, she demonstrates that she's Jeremiah Wright in drag. She's full of grievance, bile, and attitude. That's what the "stare" is over which some reporterette waxed lyrical. "Talk to the hand" is the vibe emanating from chere Michelle. I don't know about you, but there's nothing worse than attempting to interact with someone who's chock full of attitude.

Michelle has 20+ years of Wright's bile in her craw, and, periodically, it flashes out to singe and sear us. America, says chere Michelle, is a mean place. She's never been proud of this great land in her 40+ plus until lots of whites voted for her Barack. "They," Michelle asserts, keep moving the bar no matter how hard you work.

That "they" is a racially loaded code-word in the black community. Michelle's usage of it in the context of her speech, in conjunction with her other brilliant and memorable utterances, brands her as Jeremiah Wright's acolyte. Whereas Wright brands America racist and speaks of AmeriKKKa without any ambiguity, Michelle, desirous of being the First Lady of Tan, utters "they." Connotatively, Michelle's "they" is the equivalent of Wright's "AmeriKKKa." Her entire discourse develops her implied thesis that America is racist.

If Michelle Obama were a picture on the wall, looking as though she were alive, then Vogue's implied message might be true. She is not. Instead, she's a living breathing woman who has, for 20 years, imbibed Wright's noxious messages (masquerading as sermons).

It is always amusing to read references to the JFK presidency as Camelot. Camelot was, in part, done in by an unfaithful woman. Michelle Obama will not be able to hold faith with America; she's got too much grievance, bile, and attitude for that. She will come off the wall and speak. America will listen and hear that this woman and her husband cherish and hold views that America is doing her best to get away from.

I can only hope that, thanks to her, Obama is denied the POTUS.

vbspurs said...

I can only hope that, thanks to her, Obama is denied the POTUS.

I know for sure Teresa Heinz Kerry cost her husband a few votes...

With the former, you could even excuse some of her rantings, and "shove it"s because she was a foreigner.

With Michelle, it's not that she's black. It's that she's an American. The things that she says are out-of-kilter to the life she's had so far -- her fellow Americans love a hard-luck story, but not one where the hard-luck becomes pot-luck with a vengeance.

Hey Helen, hope you saw my blogpost regarding your earlier comments. I just love your candour.

Cheers,
Victoria

former law student said...

What rightwingprof said. Givhan was the nutbar who made an issue of Hillary's (in reality non-existent) cleavage. Her 15 minutes of fashion punditry should be up.

But how could she mention Cindy's philanthropic work without pointing out that she stole from her medical charity to supply her drug habit?

ron said...

two beautiful ladies for possible first ladies.both will bring charm to the white house.

ron said...

vbspurs you need to chill.your racism is showing,you only see in the mirror late at night and early mornings.

Eric said...

My mind is consistently boggled by fellow Americans who insist that the very act of criticizing our great country is somehow Anti-American or "whiny" as one poster put it. It would be my hunch that these same persons shiver that we as a country ever endured McCarthism and yet ironically would like all citizens to keep any feelings of dissatisfaction to themselves or risk a disloyal patriot "branding"!

Really. These attitudes could at least be explained if they were expressed by a foreigner coming from a fascist regime, but as one blogger observed, these are Americans!

blake said...

Eric,

It's hardly the occasional criticism that raises hackles. It's the constant drumbeat of "America is what's wrong with the world."

The people who do this are not really Americans, either. They're post-national. Citizens of the world. Patriotism embarrasses them.

ebluitt said...

NO ONE SEEMS TO HAVE ANYTHING POSITIVE TO SAY ABOUT MICHELLE OBAMA , AS A MATTER OF FACT SOME OF YOU SOUND KIND OF RACIST AND SEEM QUICK TO COMPARE HER TO JACKIE, SAYING THAT SHES NO JACKIE KENNEDY, SO WHAT????!!! THAT WAS A DIFFERENT TIME AND A DIFFERENT PERSON, DAMN! KEEP IT REAL. DONT HATE ON THE LADY, SHES NOT THE ONE RUNNING FOR OFFICE, U R TALKING ABOUT THE WRONG THING. AND AS FAR AS MRS. MCCAIN IS CONCERNED SHE IS BEAUTIFUL , BUT SHE DOES SPEND ALOT OF TIME SMILING ( IT IS KIND OF STEPFORDISH) BUT IM SURE SHE IS A WOMAN WITH A LOT OF DEPTH AND HEART. BUT WHY WONT SHE RELEASE HERE TAX RECORDS FOR PUBLIC VIEW? IT IS SAID THAT SHE HAS ENOURMOUS WEALTH. SHE HAS SAID IN THE PAST THAT SHE WILL NEVER RELEASE IT FOR PUBLIC VIEW, BUT MICHELLE AND OBAMA HAVE!! HMM KINDA MAKES YOU WONDER. NEED TO WRITE ABOUT THAT SHIT THATS IMPORTANT TO REAL VOTERS, BECAUSE THAT TELLS YOU ALOT ABOUT HOW HER HUSBAND MAY THINK!! WHILE YOUR WRITING ABOUT MICHELLE NOT BEING QUIET OR BEING LIKE JACKIE1!! ASS KISSERS!!! THANKS RON YOU SEEM TO BE THE ONLY ONE WHO SAID SOMETHING POSITIVE AND SOMETHING THAT WASNT SILLY AND MADE SENSE. PEOPLE PLEASE STOP BEING SO SUPERFICIAL IT IS GETTING RIDICULOUS, WE CANT TAKE ANY MORE PARIS HILTON LOGIC AND MENTALITY, IT IS MORE THAN I CAN STAND

reader_iam said...

Your first comment and you're already SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS?!?!?

Can't wait to see what you'll be doing a few months (and more than one profile view hence) from now.

Paris Hilton logic? Please. You're the one who just burst on the scene LITERALLY SCREAMING SCREAMING SCREAMING for attention, from the git go.

LOL.

ebluitt said...

YOU KNOW WHAT U HAVE NO IDEA WHO I AM AND SINCE U SEEM TO LIKE CONFRONTATION, U PICKED THE WRONG ONE FOR THAT! FIRST OF ALL THIS IS AMERICA AND I CAN DO JUST THAT, BURST ON TO THE SCENE AND ALL, AND U CAN HAVE AN EFFING SEAT!! OLD WIND BAG ASS, WHO THE HELL ARE U ANYWAY?? APPARENTLY A DUMBASS THAT HAS PARIS HILTON LOGIC AND CANT READ BENEATH THE SUPERFICIAL . ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN U HYPOCRITE, SINCE U WANT TO TAKE IT THERE WE MOST CERTAINLY CAN AND WILL. U SAY MICHELLE IS NO JACKIE, AND U KNOW WHAT ? SHE NEVER TRIED TO BE AND SHE NEVER SAID SHE WAS, YET U JUDGE HER ANYWAY ( BECAUSE U HEARD IT ON CNN I GUESS) , BUT THEN U DEFEND MRS MCCAIN OVER ALL HER SMILEY FACE PICTURES AND HAVE THE NERVE TO INSINUATE THAT SHE IS NOT STEPFORD LIKE, BUT HAS MORE DEPTH!! U DONT KNOW HER AND NEITHER DO I !!AND I SAID NOTHING BAD ABOUT MRS MCCAIN AND I DIDNT JUDGE HER BASED ON HER APPEARANCE,( I SAID IT WAS KIND OF WEIRD TO NEVER HEAR FROM HER AND ALWAYS SEE HER SMILING, IT IS KIND OF STEPFORDISH, SHIT!!) BUT ON THE SAME TOKEN U JUDGE MRS OBAMA, AND ITS THAT KIND OF PARIS HILTON LOGIC THAT GETS ON MY FUCKING NERVES SINCE U WANT TO POINT IT OUT. SINCE IT SEEMS U ARE A LIFELESS BLOGGER WITH NOTHING TO DO HOW BOUT' GAINING SOME MORE BRAIN POWER AND THEN HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH DEPTH INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT WHATS ON THE OUTSIDE, BECAUSE IM SURE U DONT WANT ANYBODY LOOKING AT UR OUTSIDE APPEARANCE AND JUDGING U!! I CAN SAY JUST WHAT I WANT JUST LIKE U AND SINCE U HAVE PARIS HILTON LOGIC AND CANT SEEM TO SEE PAST OUTSIDE APPEARANCES MY LOGIC WINS, PEOPLE LIKE U ARE THE REASON THIS COUNTRY IS IN SO MUCH DAMN TROUBLE!!! TOO BUSY LOOKING AT THE WINDOWS AND FLOOR TILE RATHER THAN THE FOUNDATION ( THATS AN ANALOGY DID U GET THAT ??) OH YEAH I DONT NEED TO SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS AT ALL, BUT IF I WANTED TO THATS MY FUCKING PEROGATIVE. U STARTED IT BUT BABY I WILL SURELY FINISH IT!! FUGLY OLD HAG ,GO RETIRE!!

ebluitt said...

OH UM .READER I AM . IN MY EXCITEMENT TO ADDRESS UR CONCERNS ABOUT MY COMMENTS, I FORGOT TO ADDRESS U DIRECTLY IN MY DISSERTATION!!! JUST REALLY, REALLY WANTED U TO KNOW I TYPED IT ESPECIALLY FOR U. HAVE A LOVELY DAY.

reader_iam said...

LOL.

Me said...

huh

Me said...

huh

Me said...

interesting.

Chus said...

This is what I think: Cindy McCain The View