Mamarama: A Staunch Democrat Finds Herself in an Anti-Obama Ad

The other morning I woke up to some surreal information: “I think I just saw you in an Obama campaign ad!”

For a few heady hours I was under the impression that my image appeared in an ad supporting President Obama in the upcoming election. This was not entirely unlikely in that I am a stock photography model for an agency that specializes in regular “mom types.” This agency sells those images to various other agencies and occasionally my likeness pops up in TV ads, brochures, and websites – always to my surprise. So while this news wasn’t shocking, the subject matter was certainly of a grander nature than that PTA pamphlet I was pictured in.

However, later that day my friend located the ad online and delivered the bad news along with a YouTube clip.

It was not a spot supporting Obama. It was paid for by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and was meant to show average Americans appearing disappointed by the state of the country. The camera lingers on my face while the voiceover intones; “Now you DO have the power… the power to make a change.”

I am cast as a disgruntled middle-class Democrat who appears to be considering a switch to the Republican side of the fence. I watched in silent dismay, feeling like my identity had been robbed.

Then the calls and messages began to come in:

“You’re like the poster child for liberals,” a friend said. “How did this happen!?”

“I thought I was having a bad dream this morning!”

“Even my dog was flabbergasted when he saw that ad!” wrote another.

“You’re going to have to be your own spin doctor,” one suggested.

As a childbirth educator, women’s rights and maternal/childcare advocate, teacher to urban pregnant teens – I could not possibly be a more inappropriate face for the RNC’s ad campaign.

A further irony is that a primary part of my livelihood has been eliminated due to Republican budget cuts when I taught pregnant teenagers about childbirth, newborn care and FAMILY PLANNING. “There is no part of my work or personal life that is inclined to support any Republican candidate,” I wrote in reaction to the ad on YouTube.

I started to wonder if the RNC was not entirely truthful when they procured this stock image. The stipulations of image usage specifically state that they may not be used for “pornographic or defamatory purposes.”

But how do I actually define “defamatory” purposes? I mean, barring pornography what could possibly defame me as an individual other than representing me in a way that is completely at odds with my very being?

Consider this blog to be my statement protesting the usage of my stock image in support of the Republican National Committee’s message. If I have any legal grounds for action against the party, please let me know, because those guys picked the WRONG Democrat to represent their misguided message.

Jayne Freeman

is the host of long-time public access show Mamarama as seen locally on Comcast Cable (channel 51) and on YouTube. In addition to her parenting program she is a certified childbirth educator and regularly writes about the parental experience.

  • Kat Kelly

    Whoa! this is crazy! I am no legal expert, but I’ll put this out there in the world of the internet to see if someone can tell you.

  • JayneF

    I forgot to include my support for gay marriage as well! Including my past work with the Harvey Milk School via the Hetrick-Martin Foundation.

  • Sebastian Bernheim

    That stern look on your face makes me feel like I should somehow be ashamed of myself for whatever it is that I did. Apparently, voting for Obama in 2008 is the thing I did, and I can only redeem myself by voting for Romney/Ryan in 2012. I have to! I just don’t think I can handle you looking at me with that disappointed expression anymore!

    • JayneF

      Why can’t I “like” that comment? Thank you Sebastian.

  • Althea Bernheim

    Tell the Obama Campaign you will do a counter message for free!!

    • JayneF

      I’d like to. They’re a little hard to get in contact with. Karen Finney, anyone?? Please forward to her.

      • Althea Bernheim

        I just put you in contact with the two guys that ran the Obama campaign in Hudson County. Hopefully that leads somewhere… I remember one of them trudging through the snow in New Hampshire pre primary against Clinton. Hopefully that gets you some where :)

    • JayneF

      Just to clarify, I received no compensation for the usage of the above image in this ad.

  • Jennifer Van Doren Hughes

    This is so weird. And gross. Knowing Jayne, this is like watching her advocate for killing kittens or something.

  • Karin Williams

    I can just see the headline. “Republicans use stock photo models because they can’t find any real people to substantiate their claims!” You have to get this to the Obama folks :)

  • disqus_uUAXUoNPYr

    Geez. I will let a lawyer weigh in on the
    merits of the defamation claim (nil, I’m pretty sure – doesn’t defamation
    require proof of intent somewhere along the way?)

    But setting legal issues aside, just on
    a common-sense level, the only way to safeguard against occurrences like this would
    be to require anyone who uses a stock photo in an ad to somehow hunt
    down the person in the photo and investigate whether they hold any beliefs that
    are at odds with the intended use of the photo.

    Which not only is impossible (and I’m not sure you’d like the invasion of your privacy), it runs against
    the whole idea of stock photography. Which is that you (the model) sign over
    rights to the use of your likeness in return for money, and that the entity
    that buys the photo from the stock agency, in turn, gets to use the photo to
    tell any story they want.

    To be more ontological/philosophical
    about it, you are not your stock-photo image, and your stock-photo image is not


    Staunch (Liberal) Democrat Who Worries
    That Whiny Liberals Are Costing the Party Votes

    • JayneF

      Haha! I sure hope I’m not costing the Party votes – but I do see what you’re saying. Just one thing – I wouldn’t expect the purchaser to hunt down those depicted in the images they choose…the safety net has to be in the contract to say “not for political gain,usage, slander, etc.”. Or the purchaser has to disclose usage intent and the agency must get approval from model (for example for usage in an ad depicting a mental disorder or meds for psychological issues, etc.) Does that make more sense? I think I’m over the idea that there needs to be retribution. The gay couple from Montclair had a much worse story with their image on a specifically anti-gay marriage postcard.

      • disqus_uUAXUoNPYr

        I’m still not a lawyer, but it is very hard to picture a stock agency agreeing to such work-and-headache-inducing amendments to their standard contract. What would be in it for them? But will you try to sell them on it and blog about how it goes?

        — S(L)D

  • NightOwl

    I think you should shop around a pro-Obama response ad to blogs like Jezebel or, because pointing out that they accidentally used a liberal democrat stock model in their ad is just kind of hilarious.

  • Brian Shapiro

    “I’m Jayne Freeman,and I support this message.”