Attention The Media: Can we just grow up a bit?

Dear The Media,

Yes, you. All of the media. Not just “The Liberal Media,” the monolithic existence of which I haven’t much evidence; but all of you. Fox news, Addicting Info, HuffPo, Palookaville Post.

Can we grow up? Please?

I don’t know if you know what I mean, but I think your subscribers may. At least, I hope we do. When you do things like this you’re embarrassing yourselves and insulting your readers:

Accompanied with headlines like “Michelle Bachmann: Do you want HER to be your president?”

Similar images of her husband have been going around with snide remarks from the left about “Hurr durr, he’s gay.” For the party that claims to be tolerant and pro-LGBTQ, that’s monstrously offensive. I highly recommend you cut it out at once. Other images include:

“Rick Perry Looks Like a Nazi! LOL!”

The Left aren’t the only petty ones. The Right is frequently both wrong and rude, with pettiness coming in mostly in the form of hypocrisy. However, we do periodically see these things:

“Obama Pouts When He Doesn’t Get His Way.”

My point is simple: No one looks good all the time. Most people don’t look good most of the time. It’s really hard to be “on” all the time, even when you know that you need to be on. With people hiding behind (almost literally) every bush and taking pictures of your every move, you’re bound to look stupid sometimes. Even a picture that would have been nice, if taken half a second too early, can make it a positively ridiculous-looking picture. For instance:

This was a picture taken of me at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. It probably would have been nice: I was with a friend (I edited her out because she looked fine and I didn’t want her to accidentally bring up the overall niceness of the picture while I was trying to make a point), my hair was washed, I was wearing a cute dress. However, I was saying something like “Hurry” and it got me mid-hurr. I’d imagine pundits would slap some donkey’s ears on it and send it around saying “Maryanna Price! The Braying Jackass We Knew She was!” Jackass though I may be, this picture doesn’t really do much to support the claim.

Other pictures the media likes to play around with are youthful fun-making. The picture most recently passed around has been of Mitt Romney and his pals playing with money:

As far as Republican candidates go, Romney is probably the most reasonable. I don’t really support him, but this picture didn’t make me like him any less. In fact, it made me like him a bit more. Sure, he’s a rich, entitled, corporate jerk, but this picture doesn’t make him any more of one. It made him seem more human to me, instead of the coifed Frankenstein I’m used to seeing. It’s him, with some friends, playing with money twenty five years ago. Here are some pictures of me playing with friends, along with some headlines I imagine could go with them:

“Maryanna Price’s Bizarre Sexual Pact”

“Self-Proclaimed Feminist Giving Herself to Men”

“Hiding Your Face Won’t Erase the Past, Ms. Price”

“Price Wanton Tree Hugger (And Maybe MORE)”

“From Bra Burning to Brazen Boobies: Why the Feminist Movement are Whores and Hypocrites”

“Two in the Bush”

“Alcohol-Fueled Mistakes of Ms. Price’s Past”

“Price’s Cult Baptismal”

“Don’t Look So Shocked, Mrs. Dr. President.”

They’re unflattering, but they were fun. They weren’t dark or dastardly and, frankly, if I had been a rich, young buck like Romney with business buds, I probably would have taken a picture like that, too. Lord knows I’ve played around with a “fat wad” of cash with my friends.

Here’s a derpy picture of me that was taken when I wasn’t paying attention at matriculation:

Was I licking my lips? Was I sticking my tongue out at someone? Do I just look like that as a sort of ‘screen saver’ when my mind is blank? I have no idea. I’m still tagged in that photo on Facebook and when people come banging at my door in twenty years calling me the herpiest derp to ever derp, I probably won’t care. We saw dozens of these pictures of George Bush Jr. when he was president:

I didn’t like Bush and his presidency was one of the things that catapulted me into a life of dry, political blogging. However, this picture? It doesn’t define him as a leader. I found it by typing “George Bush dumb face” into Google. Yes, it’s a silly-looking face but, honestly, it looks like he’s holding back tears. The picture didn’t come with an article that was readily available, but it seems that he’s at some sort of veterans’ event and that he’s truly moved. Others included him making “monkey” faces (the same face everone makes any time they say something with an “u” sound in it) and a few of him with a great, big grin on his face:

It looks remarkably similar to any number of pictures I have that look exactly the same:

You may be saying “Oh, but Maryanna, we should be able to have our leaders be dignified people who are held to scrutiny and standards.”

I agree. I completely, totally, unabashedly agree. But this isn’t holding them up to standards of scrutiny. This is being the petty middle schoolers you complained about in high school. Despite what we may want to believe, politicians are people. Bush was elected on a wave of “I could have a beer with him.” It may not be what I want in a president, but I do agree that a president should not be a lifeless automaton with his or her finger on the button (metaphorical or real).

I’ve seen this picture used to make Obama look good (“He’s a human!”) and bad (“Sure, Mr. President, THAT’ll create a lot of jobs.”), but what it really makes him is human:

He’s a guy who can still have fun, in addition to being president of the United States. Do I want to have a beer with him? No. Beer is gross and I think that Obama would be a rather boring guy to talk to. He would probably think that I talk funny and that I’m either too political or too goofy. He seems like a nice human and I wouldn’t mind meeting him, but I’m content just seeing him able to have fun in his own time.

This is one of my favorite pictures of George Bush Jr. It shows him as very humbly human and a man who can laugh at himself:

That is the face of a man who knows he made a rather silly mistake, a minor faux pas, who’s making a face of light-hearted self deprecation. I think that takes character. He’s also a quick dodge.

Unflattering photos of all sorts are fine for the vapid paparazzi, but please stop pretending that they’re news.

OMG, a forty year-old woman with two kids has a BELLY! And she has the audacity to say that vegetables should be easily accessible! How DARE she have a milk shake on vacation?!

This isn’t news; it’s gossip, at best.

An unflattering picture of a person does not make them bad, stupid, wicked, foolish, gay, slutty, or even particularly deserving of ridicule. We have plenty of reasons to be cynical over politics and the people who get into them, but attempts to make change for the better (whatever your definition of “better” may be) will not make any headway until we start focusing on the issues rather than the images. This should not be a partisan plea.

If you find a picture of a politician holding a gun to a child’s head, make a headline out of that. If you happen to see a politician buying cocaine in an alley and get a camera phone picture of it, make a headline of that. If you see a politician chewing food, don’t bother. No one looks good chewing. No one can look good chewing. Soulless monsters or not, they have to eat and make their political points using their mouths. Not every picture is going to be one for the album. Get over it and grow up.

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