Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Tears

I wrote the following post on Saturday, September 25, 2004, the title was,

War photography is essentially antiwar
. What made me want to repost? Watertiger (btw, happy blogoversary!) did a post based on the following award winning photo. Now I'm going to let you click on the link but be advised, although it's not graphic in the blood and guts sense, it's a gut punch non-the-less. (Link)

Here was my post from 2 years ago. (I added a preposition, verb and fixed a typo, still no George Soros money for editors, sorry NewsBusters!)

If people see photos of the horrific human destruction in this war they'll be angry.

Solution? Simple, don't show too many harsh war photographs.

A rigid system of image control was imposed in Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf war. Though the Pentagon's experiment with embedding loosened some of those controls, there were still limits. No soldiers bleeding in the sand, please. No body bags. No coffins.

The Pentagon image-mongers had learned from Vietnam that all great war photography is essentially antiwar photography. Too often their goals are assisted by squeamish editors, with generally honorable intentions, far from the killing fields.

Pete Hamill, NY Times

Editors don't want to be seen hiding the truth; they give lots of other rationales for why they don't show the photos. Privacy. Not supportive of the troops. Bad taste. Possible desensitizing. The children might see. Embolden the enemy. Bad for morale. All good reasons, but also all dancing around the truth. If we were exposed to the images of the limbs ripped off children, soldiers with brains spilling down their worthless body armor, a lot more people would say, "Enough! This must stop!" The press understands the simple act of showing an image is antiwar, so in any attempt to be "fair and balanced" about the war they must NOT show real horrific images.

This administration is selling a product that no sane person would continue to buy if they knew the horrible truth about it. They might tolerate it for awhile if they can hold in their heads either fear for their own safety or good, noble reasons to kill humans and bomb children. But if the fear doesn't really exist and the noble reasons are shown to be a sham, a steady diet of gruesome images will quickly weaken any residual resolve.

Bush and Cheney keep the focus on abstract "truths" like freedom and independence. The media will use numbers, bar charts, and still photos of people in uniform to symbolize the dead. But you will never see the image of their faces contorted from a violent painful death.

Can an image change your mind about how you feel about something and then how you act? Yes. That is deepest reason real war photos are not printed in the mainstream press.

posted by spocko at 10:21 PM


Interrobang said...

That woman is the saddest-looking bride I've ever seen. I suspect she has reason.

7:58 PM  
Eric said...

"...the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

We are all sons and daughters; mothers and fathers; brothers and sisters to someone. I've met no man or woman, whom I have had the honor to serve with, state otherwise.

Personally, I do not find any full and factual statement; or picture displaying the truth of war to be unpatriotic. And after knowing the truth of war, I could only wish the world was anti-war. It's not a work of fiction because it's a distant thing.

9:06 PM  
Masher1 said...

The marine Knows. His bride Knows. Can you see the fear in the eyes of the bride? The sadness is not in the photo the sadness this photo hides is this is just the WORLD and how lies are bad. Follow a lier into battle to kill the innocent SHIT WILL TEND TO GO DOWN. Ask the brides.

2:23 PM  
shrimplate said...

This is not good. Really, it just totally sucks. Awful.

8:51 PM  

Very heartbreaking and painful to look at, but I have to thank you for bringing it to our attention. It is one of the very few testimonials we have of this war. I am of the Vietnam generation and remember vividly the body bags returning from Nam. This administration, so expert at spin, calls the publication of body bag photos a violation of privacy (as if they really care a goodam about privacy). But I think we need to see them to evoke our national consciousness and conscience. Without these images, we are adrift. I wish I could thank the couple for their courage in letting us see their wedding photo.

9:14 PM  

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