The Extended Turtle Neck Position (And Other Celebrity Tricks Of The Trade)

Every so often, we are asked to update our photos on the firm’s website.  I always thought the update requests divided people into two categories — those who like, or even love, getting their picture taken, and those who dread the thought of getting in front of the camera again and will do whatever they can to avoid it.  Now I realize there is a third category:  those who know the tricks of the trade.

I recently met with an attorney who had a page of portrait proofs on his desk.  He said he used the “extended turtle neck position” when he had the photos taken, stretching out his neck and thrusting his head toward the camera.  This technique is supposed to eliminate sagging necklines, double chins, jowls, wattles, and other unsightly neck-related features that are an unfortunate consequence of aging.  It also makes your head look slightly larger, which supposedly enhances your attractiveness.  (Some psychologists contend that people with larger heads are deemed more attractive because they look more like infants and thereby trigger instinctive protective impulses.)  He said it’s just another trick used by cunning celebrities and not typically shared with those of us in the Great Unwashed — like the scene in Broadcast News where the William Hurt anchorman character explains that, when you are on camera, you should sit on the tails of your jacket so that your shoulders fit snugly and your shoulder lines stand out in sharp relief.

If you try the turtle neck position, you’ll soon realize it’s uncomfortable.  If I did it regularly, I’d end up with a stiff neck.  I guess putting up with a stiff neck — like having a face constantly tweaked by plastic surgeons, and wearing pounds of makeup, and getting yelled at by personal trainers — is just one of the prices of celebrity.  I’d rather just stick with my wattles.

Never Be Photographed Eating A Corn Dog

It should be a basic rule of politics:  never be photographed eating a corn dog.

During the state fair season, it’s inevitable that politicians will visit the fair.  And when they are there, the politicians will want to do whatever it takes to show that they can identify with and understand the concerns of their fellow fairgoers.  What better way to communicate that you aren’t some ivory tower, out-of-touch, upper-class twit than by eating some fair food along with the rest of the dusty masses?  And, of course, the corn dog is the most basic fair food item of all.

It therefore shouldn’t be surprising that staffers think having the candidate eat a corn dog seems like a fine idea. The problem, however, is that there is no graceful way to eat a corn dog.  Obviously, you don’t use a knife and fork.  It is an awkward culinary object, and most people don’t eat them regularly.

As a result, every picture you see of a politician gobbling a corn dog looks funny and unflattering.  Some are worse than others — Michele Bachmann’s recent photo, above, would be hard to top — but they all look bad.  When you think about it, Rick Perry’s photo to the left isn’t really much better.

If I wear running a campaign, I’d impose a no corn dog rule.  Munching on elephant ears, hot dogs, and ears of corn all are perfectly capable of communicating the “everyman” message, without running the risk of the dreaded corn dog photo.