Scholarsteve’s Blog

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Sarah Palin rhetoric

There was a recent controversy over a cover for Newsweek magazine where Sarah Palin was featured in tight running clothes and has a flag draped limply from her arm. The headline reads, ” How do you solve a problem like Sarah? She’s bad news for the GOP and for everyone else.” Palin argues that this cover is sexist. The photo was originally featured in Runners World magazine as a part of their runner of the month expose. So is the photo sexist?It has not been photoshopped that we know of, so Newsweek argues argues that they just chose the photo because it was interesting. I think it  is arguably sexist, but it could also arguably be the same spirit of blasting a political figure with a photo out of context.

The photo is framed under a different context from Runner’s World. Rather than a fitting headline likely showing Palin’s example of good fitness practices, Newsweek has a headline critiquing Palin’s competence as a politician. With this framing, the photo does make Palin appear to only be a pretty face. She is posed with her hands on her hips in a provocative manner, her shirt is red (arguably a passion color) and if form fitting. Though runners frequently wear form fitting clothing, with the headline provided and the American flag on her arm, Palin appears as an irresponsible politician. She is not shown in an office, but a room with a view. This makes her appear to be at a vacation place rather than in a place of business.

I am especiall interested in the flag. Rather than hanging, the fact that she is holding it makes her seem irresponsible. Holding a flag or draping it over her person seems to carry a rhetoric of entitlement. The only ones I can think of that wear the flag are Olympic medalists or deceased soldiers in their coffins.

I would say that the picture does preposition Palin rhetorically before the audience has the chance to read the article that discusses her negative effects on the GOP and politics. The photo would likely strengthen the article because even if readers knew nothing about Palin, they would still likely begin the article with a lower opinion of her.

Funny, because this picture did not make any big buzz when it was in Runners World, but here the context is purposely upset. If it isn’t sexist, then at the very least it is definitely misleading.


November 25, 2009 - Posted by | 1, Eng 350

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