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September 25, 2004
CINEMOCRACY writes that I'm not paying enough attention to aesthetics:
Reynolds is missing an essential part of the debate - he doesn’t appear to embrace the realities of the political image, unless he’s exposing media bias or scorning Hollywood. We find this is odd, because Reynolds is a photographer by hobby, and there is no other art form that is more tuned towards selecting something from the real world and manipulating its qualities (framing, contrast, pose, etc.) in an image designed by the artist to inspire in a desired effect.
That's probably true. So let me look at one aesthetic aspect of this campaign -- the bumper stickers. I think it's important, and so does John Kerry!
[H]e spent four weeks mulling the design of his campaign logo, consulting associates about what font it should use and whether it should include an American flag. (It does.)
So what hath Kerry wrought? I think it's a winner:
It's got a very nice retro-look, somehow reminiscent of the New Frontiers era. Smart move, since that's the last time a Democrat ran convincingly as strong on national defense, and there's that whole JFK-parallel thing going, too. The flag was a nice addition, and certainly strengthens that effect.
It's especially notable by comparison to this earlier Kerry logo, which by contrast reeks of the 1970s, a far less fortunate association:
The Bush/Cheney material is more middle of the road. Their main bumpersticker seems to me to invoke a 1980s feel -- a sly Reagan allusion, perhaps?
Not stunning, but serviceable.
This one is more elegant:
Understated, and suitable for people who fear vandalism, which is apparently a problem.
Kerry's firsthand attention to political semiotics is impressive, and unusual in a leader. What this bodes for the campaign, or reveals about the candidates, is less clear, though one suspects that President Bush has taken a more, er, delegative approach to questions of design