Investigation: Why Does Malcolm Turnbull Take Selfies So Weirdly?
There's one big flaw with the PM's selfies.
In 2016, Malcolm Turnbull posted three and a half selfies to his Twitter account (I’m counting this third person dog selfie as half). In 2017, that skyrocketed to nine whole selfies.
We’ve always known Turnbull is a selfie-obsessed man. More than any PM before him, he’s constantly outstretching his right hand, clutching his smartphone and taking a snap.
But there’s something off about his selfies. Take his tweet from Mardi Gras last night.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) March 3, 2018
Lovely. He met Cher, that’s pretty sweet. His wife is there, which is also quite wholesome — and there’s the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, peeping out from behind Cher’s flowing locks.
All day I haven’t been able to stop looking at this photo. For some reason that I couldn’t quite figure out, it just looks so weird. So I went back and dug up some more Turnbull selfies, and slowly I realised…
Malcolm Turnbull does not know how to take a selfie. Let me explain.
The Arm Problem
Ok, here’s a couple more Turnbull selfies:
After examining almost every single public Turnbull selfie in existence, there is one damning conclusion that can be drawn: Turnbull goes to great — even extreme — lengths to avoid having any part of his arm in the shot.
It’s an interesting ploy. For fairness’ sake, let’s compare these Turnbull selfies to some stock photo selfies:
The difference is clear. One of the main characteristics of a normal selfie is the arm — it gives the image a personal touch and a special authenticity. It tells the viewer that yes, this is a selfie, you took it yourself.
By pushing himself to the side of the frame, getting up close to the phone, and holding his arm well out of the way, Turnbull makes sure that all of his selfies only show his head and shoulders and nothing else.
This is just a disorienting move. Sometimes, Turnbull’s selfies are so tightly framed that you’re left wondering whether it’s even a selfie at all.
And that might be the conceptual flaw that is contributing towards the Prime Minister’s weird selfies: maybe he thinks that in order for a selfie to be good, he has to pretend as though it isn’t a selfie.
Malcolm Turnbull’s Face
There’s an added side effect to Turnbull’s belief that selfies should be armless.
And that’s his face.
Just compare his normal photo face to his selfie face:
This is what happens: because Turnbull’s arm is so wide of his head, he’s forced to turn his neck to look into the camera. Sometimes, to make that turn less obvious, instead of craning his neck too far to his right, he just pushes his head back a little. But when he moves his head, he sometimes doesn’t move his shoulders and chest with it.
That’s why we sometimes get a lil’ bit of double chin coming through in his selfies. And it’s also why he sometimes looks a little stunned in the photos.
If he moved his arm further back to the centre, he wouldn’t have that problem. But we shouldn’t be surprised — Turnbull has struggled to move back to the centre for a few years now.
Turnbull’s One Big Strategic Selfie Error
There’s a reason why other politicians haven’t run into the same selfie troubles as Turnbull.
Take a look at some of these other political selfies:
They get other people to take their selfies instead. It’s a brilliant strategy. That way, you’re not forced to make awkward choices about whether to put your arm into the photo or whether to suffer from the tragic scrunched head problem.
And really, maybe this has been Turnbull’s problem all along — he’s put himself in a really difficult position with his selfie strategy. Now that it’s expected that he take the selfie, rather than the other participants in the photo, he might be stuck in this poor routine for the rest of his public life.
All the while, one man with impeccable selfie skills plots his return…