When Images "Lie": Dancing with Sarah Palin and Barack Obama
In October 2008, at the height of the gear-up for the November presidential elections, Martin Rice, a Tampa Bay, Florida musician and graphic designer, vented his frustrations visually and digitally. He created an image of Barack Obama dancing with Sarah Palin, and captioned the pic with “unfortunately, this is what the country wants.”
In September, approximately 52 million people watched the first debate between candidate John McCain and then-candidate Barack Obama. A few weeks later, 18 million people watched a single episode of Dancing with the Stars.
Rice sent the pic to a few friends. Within a week, the photo had been picked up by multiple new sources, including CNN and ABC, had been posted to more than 1000 blogs, and turned into an iPhone wallpaper. Within 2 weeks, a Google image search for “obama palin dancing” returned more than 1.5 million hits.
What are some of the dangers and powers of photo parody in a “viral” world — that is, in a world where an image can become popular, downloaded, and reproduced on thousands of web sites within minutes? What are some of the dangers and powers of photo parody in making political statements? These are great questions to bring to the classroom.