Friday, May 18, 2007

beware

Photo by Nick Ut

Photo by Eddie Adams

We've all see the two images above. I'm too young to remember how they appeared in the media when new but from everything I've read they were prominently published. Naturally, these photos were dangerous to those who profited from or backed the Vietnam War, but they were shown anyway and helped to turn public support against the war. And from my study of the war, including learning about the relatively mild experiences of my father while serving in Vietnam, these two photographs depict a frequent reality in that country at that time: brutality, pain, and suffering.

This week I was reading Foulweather's Monday posting and began to think about just what the public has seen of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The image in Foulweather's post could, along with many other disturbing images we've likely never seen, be prominently and regularly seen in newspapers, internet, and television news broadcasts. But they are not. Ask yourself why. Imagine yourself as an American soldier over there, or as an Iraqi or Afghan living in one of the more violent regions. Imagine being tortured or beheaded. It's incomprehensible unless you're living it, really.

Recently I heard a report on NPR about the military cracking down on soldier's access to myspace, youtube, and blogging. This in spite of the fact that no security breaches due to this technology can be pointed to during the entire time we've been over there. Again, ask yourself why.

On a much more positive note, I heard another news story which was very uplifting. And it illustrates how infrequently we get reports of this kind, and especially about what the United Nations is doing (unless it's a dismal failure).

4 comments:

Foulweather... said...

Those two photos along with the burning Budhist monk, are ingrained in my mind... At the same time I feel that they are now so prevalent and iconic that they have lost some of their shock value. Vietnam was the first war to be covered so intensively by television and mass media and those running the war hadn't yet figured out how to censor it. While great efforts are being made to stop such horror being broadcast now(as you mentioned by limiting the soldiers access to mass media) when we do receive such images, we are almost numb to them. In saying that, it seems to me that nothing hits home harder than terror on the face of a fellow human... Any journalist and artist worth his or her salt should do all they can to make sure photos like these find their way into out mass consciousness again...

Gazelle said...

I agree that what has shock value today may have changed over the last 30-40 years. So, for maximum effectiveness I think what is required is a veritable onslaught of images and stories since as a culture we are already so inundated with information. That said, I imagine photographers are taking and/or attempting to take images like these but whether we see them or whether the photographer can get access is another matter altogether.

Foulweather... said...

Informational overload is certainly an huge issue. Those images are still powerful and shocking what I meant was, we've seen those particular shots so much, we are have now disconnected from their original context, which is still very real... ie US imperialistic ambition, continues to pit peoples against each other.

All of us need to see how are tax dollars are shaping up the rest of the world... and any genuine democracy would insist journalists, photographers, writers etc are there to get the picture.

Gazelle said...

I hear ya.
Too bad we don't live in a genuine democracy...