Jill Greenberg’s portrait of John McCain for the October cover of the Atlantic (see below) is either a bit gnarly or respectably granitic, depending on your perspective: all of McCain’s “experience” is etched in the deep, harshly-lit lines on his face. But in case you were wondering what Greenberg’s perspective is, she’s made things abundantly clear on her web site, the aptly-named Manipulator, taking some of the more unflattering (and sneakily-executed) pictures from the shoot, adding some grody Photoshoppery, and posting the results. As Boing Boing points out, the elaborate Flash-filled site means one can’t link directly to the pictures, but you can see one to the right, and Gawker has a couple more posted.
The Atlantic, unsurprisingly, isn’t happy, with editor James Bennet issuing a statement that Greenberg has “disgraced herself” and that they are “appalled” by the images. The accompanying piece’s author, Jeffrey Goldberg, released a statement saying that Greenberg’s “‘art’ is juvenile, and on occasion repulsive she betrayed this magazine and disgraced her profession.”
Certain bloggers are quick to jump on these portraits as a symbol of an immoral Left: Shannon Love’s post on Chicago Boyz is the most unintentionally hilarious, decrying liberals for believing that “the enormous benefits of their enlightened rule outweigh any consequences of the dishonest acts that bring about that rule.” Dishonest acts, you say? Sure, these are crappy Photoshop jobs, and I’m not sure exactly what the point is or the actual outcome will be: in today’s chaotic political world, attacks beget sympathetic reactions beget opposing backlash beget underdog resurgence. But, jeez, if you were doing the McCain photo shoot, wouldn’t you play a little joke, if you could get away with it?