Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jill Greenberg and John McCain: Villainy and Political Magazine Covers

jill greenberg, villain, john mccain, atlantic magazine
The Atlantic Magazine has been tarnished by the work of a villain, Jill Greenberg. As photography blog Photo District News recounts:
How Jill Greenberg Really Feels About John McCain
When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee.

She delivered the image the magazine asked for—a shot that makes the Republican presidential nominee look heroic. Greenberg is well known for her highly retouched images of bears and crying babies. But she didn’t bother to do much retouching on her McCain images. “I left his eyes red and his skin looking bad,” she says.

It wasn't sophisticated subversion but brazen sabotage. Outlandish and unashamed - pure villainy.
She goes on to say:
Warned that the image is just the kind of thing that will stir up the anti-media vitriol in the conservative blogosphere, Greenberg said, “Good. I want to stir stuff up, but not to the point where I get audited if he becomes president.”

That said, she goes on to explain that she’s thought about replacing McCain’s mouth with bloody shark teeth and displaying the image on a billboard with the message that the candidate is a bloodthirsty war monger.

Zachary Hooper of the Atlantic's PR agency (The Rosen Group) in response to the photos:

Following up on your post about Jill Greenberg’s photos of John McCain, I wanted to share the following statement from James Bennet, editor of The Atlantic:

“We stand by the respectful image of John McCain that we used on our cover, and we expect to be judged by it. We were not aware of the manipulated and dishonest images Jill Greenberg had taken until this past Friday.

When we contract with photographers for portraits, we don't vet them for their politics--instead, we assess their professional track records. Based on the portraits she had done of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger and her work for publications like Time, Wired, and Portfolio, we expected Jill Greenberg, like the other photographers we work with, to behave professionally.

Jill Greenberg has obviously not done that. She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images she has created for her Web site of John McCain.”

Jeffrey Goldberg the author of the featured McCain piece was more candid in his condemnation of Greenberg:
...her "art" is juvenile, and on occasion repulsive. This is not the issue, of course; the issue is that she betrayed this magazine, and disgraced her profession...

Read the full post here - About that McCain Photo

A cursory glance at Jill Greenberg's work shows her style is naturally unflattering and not necessarily a function of malicious intent. Jill does have a reputation as a provocateur and controversy seeker, as well as a critic of the current Republican administration.
As Soulpile, a Newsbusters commenter noted:
Looked through her work.. none of it is very flattering to the subject. Very cold. Whoever chose her to take the pictures obviously wanted that kind of photo of McCain anyway.

- Read discussion from Photo District News, How Jill Greenberg Really Feels About John McCain
- Read discussion from Newsbusters, Lib Photographer Admits Making McCain Look Sinister for Mag Cover
- View a gallery of Jill Greenberg's manipulated McCain images (contains offensive language)
- Read PhotoDistrictNews on Political Covers "playing it safe"
- Go to Jill Greenberg's official website, 'The Manipulator'

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