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Fatwah / July 25, 2008

She\'ll never get the grass stains out of those shorts.

She’ll never get the grass stains out of those shorts

You remember those old kid-game cartoons telling you there are 22 things wrong with this picture and you have to circle them all? Like, say it’s a picture of undersea divers but instead of flippers, one of them’s wearing clown shoes or something. You have to remember, this was before Gameboy was invented. Very, very tough trying to amuse yourself as a kid in those days.

Anyway, most people don’t realize we continue to be confronted with “What’s Wrong With This Picture” challenges for the rest of our lives. We forget our early training, but the pictures go right on getting wronger and wronger.

Take this picture of Francis and Sofia Coppola that’s getting a lot of gush in the fashion world. You know, people exclaiming what a perfectly composed shot it is and how lovely that it expresses the closeness of father and daughter, both acclaimed film directors. No doubt proud Dad’s explaining how to set up a gorgeous matte-shot like the ones he did in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and his little girl’s drinking it in so she can do a splendid follow-up to her pop confection, Marie Antoinette. I mean, you can imagine the cross-generational wisdom being exchanged here. That’s why they’re calling this series of photographs “Core Values.”

Maybe you’ve already picked out a few things Wrong With This Picture. Here are the six I’ve found so far (though I bet if you had the time to spend, the number goes up into triple digits):

#1. The chair. It appears to be buckling under the weight of Francis Coppola’s immense genius.

#2. The incest. Sofia Coppola is chairless, presumably positioned to evoke the idea she studied directing “at the feet of the master,” her pop. But instead of sitting up attentively, like a good student, she’s lolling back with a come-hither gaze, leg hitched up in a botched attempt at artlessness. This is disgusting on many levels. Discuss.

#3. The whites. Why is it that rich Americans in out-of-the-way places—Argentina, in this case—insist on wearing Colonial Oppressor Casuals, those pleated white linens and things that announce a banana-plantation-owning past? Can’t somebody get up a revolution around here or something?

#4. The photographer. Annie Leibovitz sure can capture the soul of the sitter, can’t she? She nails it every time, the twee self-love of the rich and famous. Whether it’s naked Whoopi Goldberg covered in milk or naked John Lennon covered in Yoko, she’s been reliably turning our stomachs for decades now. And nothing to be done about it, I suppose. I mean, you can’t shoot her. (Not without getting bogged down in a lot of red tape, anyway.)

#5. The pitch. This is an ad for Louis Vuitton luggage. Louis Vuitton luggage has that “discreet” pattern on it that everyone recognizes, so everyone will know you’re rich enough to afford Louis Vuitton luggage. It’s that combination of bragging and “discretion” which demands reprisals. Where’s this Vuitton guy live, anyway?

#6. The simple bucolic scene. Speaking of reprisals, you know who else used to like to spend lots of money affecting bucolic simplicity? Marie Antoinette. One of her favorite pastimes, right before the howling mob made their objections known, was decking herself and her pals out in mock-peasant wear and loafing around her lavishly appointed country cottage.

I’m just saying.

Write to Eileen at jones@exiledonline.com.

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