It’s sort of second nature for the publicity teams of politicians to milk a moment of their boss as much as possible, especially if it’s in a bid to make them seem more like a regular guy on the street.
But we know there are these PR teams working to meticulously craft a moment, but why is it that we’re so quick to gush and ooh and ahh over a photo of someone like, say, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whenever he “coincidentally” happens to be doing something cute?
An article earlier this year by The Guardian brings Trudeau to task for seemingly being too busy feeding media outlets with photos of him doing regular things, and he’s since so far photobombed a beach wedding, posed shirtless for selfies with a family hiking in the woods and jogged past a group of Canadian teenagers heading to prom.
But after it was pointed out that the shot of Trudeau breezing past the prom-bound teens was snapped by his official photographer, some Canadians have been asking why the media continues to fall for what seems to be a constant stream of PR stunts; instead of answering issues concerning his government, the Guardian wrote.
The most pressing of these is the Canadian government’s claim to fight climate change while throwing support behind two pipelines in Canada and Keystone XL; or why they signed off on a C$15bn deal to sell weaponized military vehicles to Saudi Arabia, despite “critics who worry the vehicles will be used by the House of Saud against its own citizens,” the op-ed piece pointed out.
Others also wonder whether Trudeau’s self-described feminism will result in tangible change for the families of the thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women and teenagers, of which there has yet to be any progress reported in the investigation; or those who left behind in a country where the cost of childcare and the gender pay gap rank among the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Toronto writer noted that Trudeau is a “social media savant,” and he has used this to position himself as a “sunny antidote” to the turbulent news spilling out from other parts of the world.
“Trudeau is the political equivalent of a YouTube puppy video,” he wrote. “Each week, Trudeau feeds the news cycle a new sharable moment, and our Facebook feeds are overwhelmed with shots of the adorable young statesman cuddling pandas and hugging refugees and getting accidentally photographed in the wild with his top off, twice.”
The result is a media frenzy that has at times overshadowed the crucial questions being asking about his government.
“If this had been the first time the media got suckered into turning a staged Trudeau photo-op into a story, it would be a little more forgivable,” said Robyn Urback, a columnist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Even now, as Trudeau is wrapping up a visit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Philippines, timelines are flooded with him enjoying take-out chicken and posing with cooking crew, as opposed to his stance on Canada’s relations with Asian countries.
The Trudeau team will obviously do their best to create and maintain a certain image or impression is not surprising, added Urback, but added“It doesn’t bode well for public trust in the media to be so easily fooled by government attempts at manipulation … It is our responsibility to decipher between PR and news, and a picture from the prime minister’s personal photographer is not a coincidence, and not news. We should know better.”