Does This Image Move the Ball in the Right Direction?
Over at Breitbart.com, they’re launching a new California-focused site, and they’ve chosen to promote the site with some graphic posters in the Los Angeles area. Some are rather funny (depicting Piers Morgan as an illegal immigrant jumping a fence), but one Photoshops Nancy Pelosi’s head onto Miley Cyrus’s body in her infamous “Twerking” pose another depicts Mark Zuckerberg with fake breasts. (You can find the entire graphic image at the link above.) The lefties are furious, and there is some rumbling in some conservative quarters that the whole thing is too tasteless to be worthwhile.
I’m sure one justification will be, “Look, you have to do something shocking to get people’s attention!” That’s true, but at some point the shocking image defines the institution and sets the expectation for the publication. What is it that the publication really wants to say? Ultimately, our objection to Pelosi, Jerry Brown, Zuckerberg, etc., is with their ideas, philosophies and policies, not how they look, right? If the illustration related to some sort of article about them, or argument relating to them — “Read our expose on how Nancy Pelosi is twerking hard for wealthy Leftist special interests!” — it would be much easier to justify. But as is, the image just says, “Hey, haven’t we made these people look silly!”
I presume what Breitbart California wants to do is bring news to people’s attention that they wouldn’t otherwise see, because other California news sources are too biased and cozy with the Democratic political establishment to report inconvenient stories. Ultimately, if your aim is to bring people the truth, I’m not so sure that an image that is false — i.e., Nancy Pelosi has never twerked like Miley Cyrus — er, we hope — reinforces the message that “you need to come here to get the real story.”
Some might argue an extremely sexual image of a woman in the political world is already cliché. Spy magazine depicted Hillary Clinton as a dominatrix in 1993, and Salon depicted Sarah Palin as a dominatrix in 2008.
The second justification for the Pelosi image will be, “The Left does it too!” And indeed they do. But when do efforts to expose the Left’s double standard reach the point where the Right doesn’t have a standard?
At some point we’re going to have to decide what we want: a political culture in which Sarah Palin, or, say, S. E. Cupp, etc. can be depicted in sexist, humiliating, and derogatory ways, as well as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary and anyone else, or one in which that’s considered out of bounds. We can’t say it’s only wrong when they do it.
I know, I know, I’m a stodgy old-school traditionalist who doesn’t understand how to fight the Left with its own tools and expose their hypocrisy and double standards, and I’m a dry, boring inside-the-Beltway insider…
Anyway, now it’s turned into one of the Left’s standard “all Republican officeholders must be held accountable for something a non-elected conservative has said” routines, like we’ve seen with Rush Limbaugh, Ted Nugent, and others:
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called on Republicans to press Breitbart News to remove the artwork — one of several suggestive images on the website promoting the new California site.
The image of Pelosi, beneath one of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s face photo-shopped onto a flexing body builder, includes the sub-head: “Because you can’t make this s— up.”
“To say the least, the Breitbart News ad is foul, offensive and disrespectful to all women. It is a disgusting new low and would be reprehensible against any woman — regardless of party,” Wasserman Schultz wrote. “If GOP leaders are serious about their rebrand, then both their elected and party leadership should condemn this outrageous behavior; call on Breitbart News to immediately remove the ad, and not continue to use this website as a forum for their views.”
In a tweet linking to her statement, Wasserman Schultz called the photo-shopped image of Pelosi “misogynistic.”
Again . . . was the image worth it? Does it help us?