The President and the Boss: Springsteen and Obama recording in New Jersey
Photo Credit: Rob DeMartin
This compelling photograph is crying out for analysis - is this image really representing what happened, and if not, what is going on here? Apparently the President and the Boss met to make a podcast “Two cultural giants tackle the cracked reality of the American dream”. The location appears to be the music room at Springsteen’s home, there are a couple of microphones rigged in a vaguely plausible placing from a sound point of view. In trying to decode this picture I’m looking only at the image, I’m not considering what they talk about in the podcast.
So firstly, with a billing like that, who is in charge here? Bruce Springsteen (the host, known in the music world as ‘The Boss’) or Barack Obama, the man who used to have his fingers on the US’ nuclear triggers. It’s not immediately obvious, the poses are strikingly symmetric: the professional smiles, the sitting back in the chairs and the eyelines. But the differences are more striking because of the symmetry. Neither man is actually at ease in front of the camera, the tightly crossed arms and legs assure us of that immediately.
Date: 22 November 1963
Source: JFK-Motorcadee.gif, Penn Jones Photographs. Baylor University Collections of Political Materials. Waco, Texas
Author: Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News
Work in public domain; copyright expired in 1991 without renewal. First published on 24 November 1963.
This is one of several well-known photographs of President John F. Kennedy (JFK) immediately before his assassination in Dallas in 1963. The history of the day is inextricably linked to the images of the motorcade, which have an additional potency because of what happened after the photographer pressed the shutter. If JFK had not been shot it is entirely possible that this picture would have been forgotten.
This essay will present an analysis of this image and then consider it in the light of Barthes’ and Sartre’s views about news photographs.