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Author Topic: To the right and south of here
Babbler # 2699

posted 15 December 2005 10:38 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Montreal-born photojournalist Steve Simon lays the pageantry and exhibitionism of American politics bare in his third book, The Republicans. Check out the slideshow excerpt at and share your impressions here.
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 11085

posted 15 December 2005 02:12 PM      Profile for LemonThriller     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The toxic divide between Democrats and Republicans (or even more so liberals and conservatives) is frightening.

The CBC's Fifth Estate did a wicked piece called "Sticks and Stones" on that divide. You can even watch it on the internet at

The documentary features people like Anne Coulter and Bill O'Reilly. Scary stuff. Be prepared might get your blood boiling.

From: Halifax, N.S. | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 10944

posted 15 December 2005 05:45 PM      Profile for Babbling_Jenn     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing I find most interesting about this review is the 9/11 reference, which is fascinating and enraging at the same time.

When most New Yorkers are against Bush, how can he use 9/11 as a justification for anything anymore?

I know that's not what the whole book is about, but it is so striking and it sounds like the photographer was able to make these connections in a subtle, intelligent manner.

I wouldn't mind leafing through it to see if the parallels are as clear as the reviewer says they are.

From: Rural Ontario | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
Américain Égalitaire
Babbler # 7911

posted 16 December 2005 08:29 PM      Profile for Américain Égalitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
from the review:

We don't get the sense that the officers could do much if they did see anything. Arrest a youth carrying an “I LOVE PROCHOICE” placard?

I'm not sure how many people the NYPD did arrest during and around the GOP convention (there were some) but I found it ultimately ironic that at the DEMOCRACTIC convention that people like Medea Benjamin were manhandled by police and security for unfurling anti-war banners on the floor of the convention.

The stark, binary division of American citizens along political lines frightens Simon: “It's hard to be optimistic when Americans are fighting among themselves as if they were mortal enemies.”

Truth. And if we progressives lose, guess where the spillover ends up? Where do you think all that monetary support for conservative Christian causes just springing up like kudzu in Canada is coming from?

In one photograph, a police officer runs from a burning effigy lit by demonstrators outside the Gardens. The look of panic on her face is reminiscent of the expressions of those running from the twin towers as they burned, and of course the context of the book makes this reference even stronger.

Sweet irony.

“A Safer World; A More Hopeful America.”

It is with great dismay that I noticed recently that Paul Martin has borrowed a page from Bush's handlers and now appears with 'message banners' behind him in formal presentations, as if the Canadian people are unable to grasp the concepts behing his speech. I expect that in the USA, but in Canada?

The convention itself is an advertisement for the war in Iraq. There is a blindness inside the convention hall to the world outside where demonstrators march carrying caskets in protest of the war – that other media extravaganza of the Bush Administration going on simultaneously to the convention.

It might seem that way, but it was my impression that delegates knew damn well what was going on outside since their own organisers filled their heads with dread about the nasty people that would be yelling at them and the tactics and placards they would use. They also got daily intel briefings from the NYPD. The thing is they just didn't CARE what was going on outside the convention. The delegates have a unbridled contempt for the 'traitorous hippies and blame America firsters' outside the convention hall. They could care less what those people did.

“It's as if the media is God,” says Simon. “They think the media can help them.” Except for a few renegade journalists, the media was expected to and did keep to the script, delivering a version of history pre-written and directed by the Republicans.

Interesting quote. Most people in the GOP HATE the media and distrust it mightily - at least officially and mostly the rank and file. But in reality, I think its a show - the corporate media was obedient during the convention (they better have been if they knew what was good for them) because, generally what's good for George W. Bush is good for General Electric. They believe they can both intimidate and manipulate the media when they need to to produce the images they want.

Because they DO believe they can rule through image making. And as previously noted, they believe that they can make their own reality.

The leader has been crowned. Fifteen thousand members of the media capture the same moment, the same images.

Writing about German troops in 1930, Ernst Jünger suggests that there can be no modern warfare without photography – not only photography as integral to the propagandizing of war, but photography as an act, an image for an instant made of light, as when the sky over a city under attack is lit up. Modern politics, like war (the line between the two is a very pale grey), would not exist without photography. Simon's work makes compelling evidence that this is so.—Rita Leistner

Brilliant observation. When this is understood in that context, than the transition of politics from primarily aural/oral experiences (think of the Lincoln/Douglas debates which were very long, very verbose and highly literate) to the visual/image mode of today, highlighted by quick stunning visual images reinforced by short pithy sound bites. It has created a new politician and a new political audience, one not ruled as Napoleon would have said, by words, but by images. The huckters have turned from sloganeering and slick phrases as their main arsenal to digital video manipulation.

Perhaps Simon's work will cause us to reflect on that fact and ponder whether out political discourse has been elevated or if this new political paradigm has improved the effectiveness of government serving its people.

I have grave doubts as to whether the results are positive. I trust Leistner that the image making Simon's catches will bear that out brilliantly. I hope this book is available to a US audience as well.

From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2699

posted 19 December 2005 11:49 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Amazing post! And, yes, the book is available right now from the photographer himself through his website I believe.
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged

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