Framing the Fight

Framing the Fight


As a photographer and filmmaker I think a lot about the import of framing; from physical, intellectual, and emotional perspectives. Often times when I see an image I want to make I will take as many as 15 or 20 shots, moving just ever so slightly until all aspects of the frame harmonize for me. Almost no one else can see the difference between the images, and even I have some difficulty working through them, but there’s often a eureka moment when it all falls into place for me. Even as this happens though I know that my sense of what makes that particular frame “work” is shaped by a deeper unconscious frame that defines the thing that I am looking for in the first place.


It is these deeper frames that shape our thinking in ways that we can’t see that have the most impact on our perspectives and our lives. I have not watched any of the RNC speeches, but I keep seeing snippets of them and hear about them on the radio as I drive my kids to camp in the morning. I keep being a bit dumbfounded by how dumbfounded the mainstream media is by Donald Trump. From the very beginning Donald Trump came to court and started to make up new rules for the game. The people who know the rules laughed and said, “You can’t do it like that… he’s a fool. That’s just not the way it’s done.”

This morning on NPR the journalist asked a panel of democratic strategists whether or not it was a big mistake to give Ted Cruz a prime time slot at the convention when it was clear that Cruz wasn’t going to endorse him. The answers all had to do with what huge gaffes Trump was making because he didn’t have a professional staff running things. They pointed out that a staff would have vetted Melania’s speech, and put the speakers in the right spots on the program. One person pointed out that maybe putting Cruz where he was was a good thing because it took attention off of the huge Melania speech gaffe. These guys were all so stuck in the frames of what a convention is supposed to do that they could not see that Trump has created an entirely different game with different rules. They are looking at the history of political conventions and how they are supposed to unify a parties’ base. These conventions have nothing to do with real people but instead with the proscribed political and media narrative. Trump has hijacked the whole system by turning it into a reality show. He’s the Bachelor and Hulk Hogan rolled into one big superball of mayhem, passion, and hyper-reality. The whole thing is a passion play like the WWF. His manager Paul Manafort is like Vince McMahon painting a picture of heroes and villians. Ted Cruz wasn’t hired by the campaign to play a part. Instead he walked into the ring without even realizing he was about to get beat down so badly that his career is probably over. Again, I did not see it but I read about Trump coming out during the speech and staring him down. How is this drama any different than a pro wrestling story? It’s Trump’s show and we are all watching it and he’s getting paid.

Donald Trump didn’t make a mistake by putting Cruz in a prime spot. He knew exactly what he was doing and he knew who his audience was. His audience LOVED it. They got to boo the villain and send him packing. Trump has always understood the narrative. He’s not playing by the rules, he’s making new ones every day. It’s his game and we are all losing at it because he came on the court, stole the ball, and made new rules. It’s his game now and unless the other players can step out of their frame they are going to lose every scene. He’s creating the narrative because he’s the only one who understands the script. Too often people dismiss Trump as thinking he is a character on a reality show- rather than the writer/director of the show- the one with the highest ratings in history.

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