May 30, 2006
Flattery will get you everywhere
I doubt that I'm the only person to notice the flattering, "man of vision" treatment given to Iran's psychopathic Jew hating "president" on the cover of this week's Der Spiegel. The blurb reads "The man the world fears", more or less, in the original German logorrhea. It is surely not accidental that Der Spiegel employs a photo showing Ahmadinejad with a certain familiar tilt of the head, but I cannot tell whether the reference is meant ironically or admiringly. The magazine is actually pretty tough on him in the interview - at least in the English translation - but it is not as if Der Spiegel is known for its subtlety. (Though the magazine is rarely so gauche as Stern.)
So what is the cover meant to say? Is it likening Ahmadinejad to Hitler negatively, or is it trying to evoke the strong man imagery to which Germans have historically shown such unfortunate attraction?
by Sterling at 10:12 PM GMT
I think it parallels the irrational thought and behavior of the 2.
Posted by: angustien on May 30, 2006 10:55 PM
Entirely possible. I hope that's what they're trying to say.
But surely they're aware that any ironical intent will be lost on Ahmadinejad and Iranians, during a period when apparent external support might injure internal opposition? This cover will be framed on his wall and highlighted in official media by the end of the week.
Posted by: Sterling on May 30, 2006 11:01 PM
Der Spiegel is a squalidly corrupt, rudderless, nearly incoherent rag. I don't think they had anything in mind, other than selling magazines. The mad mullahs will use them for their own ends, as usual.
Perhaps the Germans should consider sanctioning the German corporations who are providing technical support to the mullahs' nuke drive? That would be a good start, if Spiegel would push for that. I'm not holding my breath.
Posted by: bombs away on May 30, 2006 11:09 PM
I'd go with the ironical interpretation, but it's always tough to say when magazine cover details are intentional. With OJ, it was clearly intentional, but hard to interpret. But I don't know if Bill Clinton's M-horns were intentional at all.
Posted by: Chris Said on May 31, 2006 12:20 AM
One thing that's certain is that Ahmadinejad desperately needs a hat.
Posted by: Sterling on May 31, 2006 12:49 AM
But look at the nose. Only Mussolini has a nice nose, those others.. well they are doomed. Doomed, not enclosed in a giant plexiglass dome.. doomed I tell you..
Posted by: randomaction on May 31, 2006 12:49 AM
Another example of Sterling's ferocious talent! Spy, terrorism analyst, detective, global strategist, armchair general, theologian, and NOW an expert on the press of a country he might have visited only once and whose language he would be unable to string a sentence in!
How do you think Welt would have covered this, Sterling, or FAZ? What would "Bunte" have to say? Which is the more "gauche?"
Posted by: eurof on May 31, 2006 05:21 AM
I think I've visted Germany on three occasions. It's at least two. There was one time I drove in from the Netherlands, and then I think two other times I flew into Munich. OK, wait - got my passport. According to the stamps, there were a few trips through Munich customs in October 2000. (Apparently I spent October and November 2000 zipping around central Europe.) I thought I had been there the year before, as well, but it looks as if I only went to Vienna and Zurich that time. So it's twice.
All those continental cities sort of look alike, you know?
What I know about Germany's press is the relative flamboyance of its anti-American cover art - though I did have to spend one semester in college listening to the goddamned Deutsche Welle English language broadcast on the shortwave every day. (Which was truly, intoxicatingly dull.)
Switzerland I've only been to the one time. That was when the gnomes of Zurich called me in and asked which American brokerage house they should buy. I said "Paine Webber." And then they did.
(Frankly I'm skeptical of the cause-and-effect relationship there, myself, because I don't even trust my judgement when buying produce, much less multi-billion dollar companies. But you'd have to ask the gnomes.)
Posted by: Sterling on May 31, 2006 05:44 AM
wank wank wank
Posted by: *YAWN* on May 31, 2006 02:35 PM
Heh. You should have said Goldman Sachs.
Posted by: Felix on May 31, 2006 02:39 PM
Sterling, here's a sentence you could recite to Eurof: Du bist ein schwankopf!
Posted by: michelle on May 31, 2006 02:56 PM
Well, regarding the Paine Webber thing, I met a few months later with PW's interactive strategy team and mentioned the thing with the gnomes. And the senior guy there, who was PW's chief marketing officer, just sort of smiled blankly when I mentioned it.
So on the strength of his non-response, we booked Paine Webber CEO Donald Marron to be our keynote at Jupiter's fall financial services conference. And a few weeks before the conference, sure enough, the merger was announced.
Posted by: Sterling on May 31, 2006 03:50 PM
"What I know about Germany's press is the relative flamboyance of its anti-American cover art"
Well there may be a few other ways of evaluating a national press than its attitudes to the USA, though I can see how you, representative of what is so aptly called the "paranoid strain" of american politics, would care about nothing else.
Having lived in Germany and thumbed through a few of the papers there, I would characterise the german press as being a mismatched combination of unbearably worthy op-eds, scrupulously balanced reporting, and loads of colour shots of young women's tits.
Michelle, "Schwanzkopf" is not actually a word Germans use. I find "du saure alte Fotze" is a much more effective insult, especially if pronounced properly.
Sterling, oh great cosmopolitan media critic, can it be true? Now we find out that you are also responsible for reshaping the global financial industry! Did they pay you a finders' fee I wonder? Truly when they write the history books they will have devote whole chapters to your influence, you are the Zelig of our times.
Posted by: eurof on May 31, 2006 08:59 PM
In that last comment I initially complained that I had NOT been paid a finder's fee, but I took it out because I didn't want people to think I was greedy.
This is the announcement, from July 12, 2000, that UBS had agreed to acquire Paine Webber. This is the press release, from October 2, 2000, that shows Marron as a keynote at the forum.
My recollection is that we had Marron booked in May - it was definitely prior to the acquisition notice. I've already explained why I wanted to book Marron, because the gnomes had expressed an interest in the firm during my visit in November, 1999. There was talk that year of Deutsche Bank buying Merrill Lynch, but I considered it more likely that Paine Webber would be an acquisition target, based on questions I had been asked.
I doubt I was the impetus for the buy. But it makes for a nice anecdote, doesn't it? Better than conflating racist Asian stereotypes about Bond villains, anyway [cough].
Posted by: Sterling on May 31, 2006 09:32 PM
Sterling wonders: "So what is the cover meant to say? Is it likening Ahmadinejad to Hitler negatively, or is it trying to evoke the strong man imagery to which Germans have historically shown such unfortunate attraction?"
What makes you think the cover is likening Ahmad to Hitler?? The tilt of the head? The wording "the man the world fears"? I don't get why just because a publication is German, all its covers should automatically compare the people featured to "Der Wolf".
The "Strong Man Imagery" which you claim attracts Germans so - is that like your unfortunate attraction to the cartoon-like, but undeniably "strongish-mannish" Ted Nugent?
In a way, Nugent and Ahmadinejad are similar in their determination to see the world in cartoonish terms. This is also something for which your dear Prez Bush is oft criticised. Such figures are useful in showing us the limits to which we want to go.
Your suggestion that The Spiegel secretly or ironically or whatever admires Ahmadinejad is silly, though. They may cordially hate Bush's guts, but - despite the slightly shrill hints from that single-issue Medienkritik site - they don't hate him enough to embrace Ahmad. The fact that a worldfamous politician today hates the Jews as much as Adolf did when that was still salonfähig may tickle their fancy though.
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 1, 2006 11:53 AM
Oh and another thing Sterling - I assume you will be calling for the courts martial and subsequent execution of the Marines who shot the 4 year old girl and guy in the wheelchair in the back of the head in "reprisal" at Haditha? Or is there some justification, in your mind, for that Massacre? Better get Nugent's view on that, as I think even you will be too "pussyish" to justify it.
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 1, 2006 01:31 PM
Face it Claude, the reason is obvious. They should have moved from that kitty litter box of a country before the Humvees started rolling.
I like the fact that we as a country are now getting lectured by one of the notoriously worst countries on Human Rights. That's another reason I'm not sending in $25K to book a table at the President's little gala fund raising event he's having on June 19th.
Posted by: Sanford on June 1, 2006 05:02 PM
sterling invoked the thread killing Godwin's law in this post's very inception, so I dont even know why anyone here is bothering to discuss this ridiculously silly musing anyway, since it disqualified itself from the get go.
Posted by: Sam on June 1, 2006 05:08 PM
Ah yes, Sam, but we memefirst commentators follow an arcane ruling by our Master of Pedantry, 99, which overrules Godwin. In fact, extra kudos is gained here by the poster of the EARLIEST inopportune or irrelevant comparison with Der Wolf. This is why Sterling always "wins" our debates.
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 1, 2006 07:25 PM
Claude wrote: "Oh and another thing Sterling - I assume you will be calling for the courts martial and subsequent execution of the Marines who shot the 4 year old girl and guy in the wheelchair in the back of the head in "reprisal" at Haditha?"
I don't know much about that and neither do you. If they're guilty of murder that will be handled in the court martial and they'll be punished appropriately - which likely would mean execution.
Sam wrote: "sterling invoked the thread killing Godwin's law in this post's very inception, so I dont even know why anyone here is bothering to discuss this ridiculously silly musing anyway, since it disqualified itself from the get go."
Ummm, except Ahmadinejad actually defends Hitler. So has he invoked Godwin's Law on himself? You miss the bigger point, which is that Der Spiegel has presented a very flattering cover shot of a not very nice man. The image evokes 1930s and 1940s fascist propaganda, and I want to know what they mean by it.
Posted by: Sterling on June 1, 2006 07:27 PM
I suspect you would like it to be because modern German "society" (eh? whassat?) is little different from its Nazi precursor. Well, you are quite right, sir, quite right, and I declare you the winner of the debate!
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 1, 2006 07:47 PM
What did I say again? I'm glad someone is keeping track of shit.
Sterling: the dude doesn't even own a suit. How can you call that photo flattering? Because he's not picking his nose? And, generally, why do people always invoke Hitler as the uber vision of sexy SS fashion? If anything, the strapping blonde man in a rubber suit that we all conjure up when having BDSM fantasies is about as far from Hitler as you can get. He didn't make fascism sexy for the masses; the was Leni and Speer.
Posted by: 99 on June 1, 2006 09:19 PM
He actually believes he is dressing in formal fashion. Persians rarely wear ties. Shi'ite revolutionaries of the Khomeini school further believe that ties are cross symbols, so they avoid them on those grounds, besides.
The upward tilt of his head, turned away from the camera, and his eyes focused on a point in the distance, are reminiscent of fascist propaganda. (The Soviets used similar motifs.)
Posted by: Sterling on June 1, 2006 10:56 PM
uh, yeah, this must qualify then.
Posted by: Sam on June 1, 2006 11:02 PM
Not really. I remember David McCullough's Truman bio had something similar to what I'm talking about, but note that the head is more or less level: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0671869205.01._PE66_.Truman._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg
Look, this is why we don't allow living people to appear on stamps and coins - republics shouldn't make saints out of public figures. Do you really not understand this? "Cult of Personality", etc?
Posted by: Sterling on June 2, 2006 03:19 AM
Lenin, for example:
Posted by: Sterling on June 2, 2006 03:27 AM
No really sterling, WHY does the Dubya cover from Time not qualify? All the things you mentioned as qualifying as "fascist propaganda" -- "The upward tilt of his head, turned away from the camera, and his eyes focused on a point in the distance" all seem to be present.
Please, parse this more. If I was an alien landung from betelguese and all I had seen were these pictures, how could I tell which of Lenin, Truman, Dubya, Musso or Ahmadinejad were totalitarian dictators or not?
Also reminiscent of the effectiveness of fascist propaganda is when a leader still retains slavish adherence among his following, and to the party line, accompanied by increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on enemies ("the Party of Death, liberals are "cockroaches", jews must be eliminated -- oops no wrong one), as a response to mounting and clear evidence of complete failure. No cult of personality there then.
Posted by: eurof on June 2, 2006 05:19 AM
sterling you reckon we don't allow living people to appear on stamps and coins - 'republics shouldn't make saints out of public figures. Do you really not understand this? "Cult of Personality", etc?'. Does that mean non-republics foster a cult of personality. Her madge in the UK for example. Nifty ribbon clipper to some, boot-faced german to others, but 'cult of personality'? and that's her madge, the belgian royal family?? all these folks have their pics on coins and so on, and yes their heads are tilted. But then so are a lot of pictures in family photo albums. so i think you are just reading this 30s 40s fascist associsation because you have a limited image assocation wedded to a latent psychoneurotic complex about germans and nazism. get over it.
Posted by: jez on June 2, 2006 07:22 AM
Ah yes, Jez, but Belgium, UK, Holland etc are not "republics", you see, so they are allowed to turn their royal families into saints by putting their tilted-head, staring-into-the-middle-distance photos on stamps and so on. It is all part and parcel of the Dark Slavish Side of Europe.
But in a Republic (such as Germany or USA), to put a tilted-head, swivel-eyed pic of someone on Time or Spiegel is akin to canonising them and so incur Sterling's wrath. Unless it's George the Misunderestimated, because everyone misunderestimates him and so the idea of him as a fascist is laughable, treasonable even. No, those leftist neoNazi Spiegel editors are undeniably attracted to Ahmadinejihad and put this slavishly flattering pic on their cover instead of the ones where Ahmadjihad was kicking the dog, stealing the kid's sweeties, biting the carpet, shooting the 4 year old girl in the back of the head, gunning down the pregnant woman on the way to childbirth, etc.
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 2, 2006 07:38 AM
Sac described: "madge in the UK for example. Nifty ribbon clipper to some, boot-faced german to others, but 'cult of personality'? and that's her madge"
"Madge" is what they call sometime resident, the huntin', shootin', fishin', macrobiotic veggie country squireen Madonna. Ribbon clipper, maybe, but bootfaced German? That's a little hard on a gallant middleaged crooner who is bearing up rather well, Sac!
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 2, 2006 07:43 AM
Well, number one Bush is not staring into the middle distance away from the camera. He's looking beyond the camera, and the photo is clearly not posed. He appears to be on stage, looking out at an audience, with a photographer positioned in the front row or orchestra pit. The examples I've shown (of Hitler, Mussolini, Ahmadinejad and Lenin) all depict the figure in profile or near profile, and appear posed. (Whether or not Ahmadinejad is actually posing or whether the photo was taken in a moment and from a direction from which such a pose could be inferred, I have no idea.)
And yes, this week in Iran dozens if not hundreds of protestors have been killed, especially among ethnic minorities. It does seem you need to preside over a substantial domestic minority bodycount to get such a flattering depiction in German media.
Posted by: Sterling on June 2, 2006 10:30 AM
oh my god, what a bunch of bullshit. this is just absurd. what a waste of 15k of server space.
Posted by: Sam on June 2, 2006 02:12 PM
So you don't recognize that it's a flattering portrait of a tyrant in the tradition of earlier work?
What do you think it's meant to evoke or accomplish, aside from selling magazines, obvs?
Posted by: Sterling on June 2, 2006 02:50 PM
i dont think its flattering, i think its a fucking picture of a scary son of a bitch. thats all it is. get over it for christ's sake.
Posted by: sam on June 2, 2006 03:08 PM
Come now Sam, I am trying to give Sterling some rope. I am interested.
So is the degree of totalitarianism indicated by the deviation from full profile to full face? The extent to which the subject faces off to the left is an indication of how evil he is? And staring off camera upwards is Good, but staring off camera face angled hard left is Bad? Fascinating.
What about complete and utter buffoons, which way do they look?
Posted by: eurof on June 2, 2006 09:16 PM
So you see no similarities in authoritarian portraiture, Eurof? No motifs?
Posted by: Sterling on June 2, 2006 09:46 PM
I wanted them to run my lingerie pix but the editor insisted on the smug mugshot. I am at a loss when it comes to understanding you evil Crusaders. Death to you all.
Posted by: President Ahmadinejad on June 5, 2006 08:14 AM
Do you think that the lefties who run the Spiegel really approve of demagogic poses? To be honest, I think Sam is right, it's just a pic, but assuming the lefties etc saw a remote echo of a Mussolini-Hitlerian pose in the pic, do you actually think they thrill, in some kind of a pornographic way, to this? The Man of Destiny pose isn't necessarily evil in itself. I'm sure photos of you exist which could be read this way. Mount Rushmore's portraits in stone surely share common points with the examples you've posted above. If those lefties had wanted Ahmadejihad to come across as sympathetic, they would've chosen a homelier, babykissing pose (even allowing for their repressed-Nazi German target audience).
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 6, 2006 07:19 PM
Mt. Rushmore absolutely shares those qualities - it's the embodiment of those qualities in stone. I don't mind the occasional statue, but giant, towering megalithic deifications of republican statesmen is wildly inappropriate and ill-advised.
I think Washington would have turned purple if he ever saw such a thing. (Not the others, though.)
As for the notion that lefties are opposed to charismatic despots - are you nuts? They fall for them again and again. It's the defining characteristic of leftism. Look at how they cling still today to Chavez and Castro and Guevara! They love their bad boys.
Posted by: Sterling on June 6, 2006 08:15 PM
Ahamdinejihad the leftie pin-up boy? I don't quite buy it, even if it is obviously true that lefties love everyone high profile who opposes the USA/Bush.
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 7, 2006 07:16 AM
Randomaction implored us to: "look at the nose. Only Mussolini has a nice nose, those others.. well they are doomed. Doomed, not enclosed in a giant plexiglass dome.. doomed I tell you.."
I quite realise you are unlikely to return here, but what did you mean by this? Are people with slightly arched or hooked noses (as opposed to "nice" upturned ones) really doomed? Such beaks used to be thought aristocratic. This bodes ill for humanity. Except for plastic surgeons.
Posted by: Claude de Bigny on June 7, 2006 08:11 PM