Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reading Image In Times Of Crisis

katie couric
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Ahh, you think that PeaceBang's insistence that clergypeople try to project an image consciously rather than unconsciously is silly, do you?

You think that PeaceBang banging the drum of being camera-ready in a highly visual world is frivolous, do ye?

You wonder why PeaceBang is trying so hard to get religious leaders to pay closer attention to the details of their voice, posture, presence and comportment, dost thou?

Today's New York Times, a periodical not exactly known for its frivolity, analyzes the television coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings by several major network anchors, including NBC's Katie Couric and ABC's Charles Gibson:

Charles Gibson is praised for his authenticity and for "keeping an even keel," while Brian Williams of the "NBC Nightly News" turns "long-winded and cloying" in personal interviews.

Miss Couric, "who anchored Monday's broadcast in white slacks and very little make-up to signal to viewers that she was hard at work in the field," is criticized for emoting on camera with "gauzy, sorrowful looks." Mr. Gibson is described as "rumpled, pleasant and serious" onscreen.

PeaceBang brings this article to your attention nout not to say that it is fair, or that it is even good journalism, or to start a kind of American Idol competition between news anchors, but simply to point out that contemporary Americans are becoming more and more expert readers of image, and more and more conscious of how those who seek their trust gain it through a combination of personal relationship, public trustworthiness, and that ineffable thing called "presence."

We must know all that we can about our own pastoral and leadership presence. We are responsible for it. We have been trained well, most of us, to be deeply in touch with our insides. Being in touch with our outsides is different work, and challenging work, but it matters. Oh, it matters, my friends.

Personal to Miss Couric: Yes, I agree with you that it was snide and sexist for the NY Times to comment on your make-up or lack thereof, but you're powerful enough to let that roll off your back, I hope. As for white slacks, why not a nice navy? At least 'til after Memorial Day? White seems a little beachy for such a tragic story.


Blogger Caroline Divine said...

Good thoughts. It does matter. (All the more because of the pervasive sexism. And yes, it's a pain having to worry about this so much more than the guys do, but it does become second nature after a while, and one can do it with a sense of fun.)

I watched a bit of "What Not to Wear" last night and in a lesser way they proved your point. The woman to re-dress was finishing up her training as a life coach (don't get me ranting on the proliferation of those, that is a whole other question, and you KNOW we all could be making buckets more if we were life-coaching instead of welcoming people to inclusive congregations in the name of God) and as Clinton and Stacy (sp?) pointed out, how are you going to trust someone with your life if she doesn't look like she's in charge of hers?

That said, on another recent program, they dressed up a young CEO of a startup(who looked really non-authoritative pre-makeover; FLIP-FLOPS at the office!? in New York!?) and made horribly racist, classist, and xenophobic (I don't think they realized it) comments about how she looked like a tortilla maker. Or maybe the tortilla maker comments were about the life coach. Either way, they were beyond inappropriate.

Did you by chance see that life coach episode? It will ring a lot of PeaceBang bells if you do.

As a college prof, I really feel for the English professor and have great respect for the way she comported herself, before and after the crime. I also have been deeply moved by the story of the older professor (a Holocaust survivor and survivor of the Communist era in Romania) who blocked the door with his body so his students could escape. They did, and he was killed.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Caroline Divine said...

P.S. (the next day...) I want to pay tribute to a Congresswoman (Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-CA) who just died (I'm catching up on the day's news online) and whose photo I want to link to because she was one classy woman. Look at this. How's that for a fabulous public image. And she did good work. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

10:13 PM  

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