Monday, October 15, 2012

The horror of spectacle

There are few things sadder to me than willful ignorance, but willful ignorance combined with using horrifying images to shame others is even worse. I hopped on Facebook to see if a friend had replied to a message, and was greeted by a bloody fetus and a message that read "Save girls. Islam kills girls. Share this picture to help."  The image has left me angry and sick to my stomach. A week prior, I was similarly assaulted by the image of a bloody and dying Syrian child held by his grandmother.

These images, while producing an immediate and visceral reaction, are weapons used to strip the humanity from both the subject of the image and the viewer. These types of images are an assault that can never be washed away from the memories of people like me. They inflict trauma, and dehumanize and sensationalize the subject. They may bring awareness of something terrible, but they also hurt us. These images can harden our hearts, can force us away from socializing and they glorify suffering.

I sit here, angry, hurt, disgusted. Someone took my sense of well being away from me tonight, and I'm shaking and sick, both in my heart and my stomach. I feel violated, and that is never alright to do to anyone, for any reason. Posting pictures of the dead, the dying, the battered, or the tortured is dehumanizing, it's impolite at very best, and in many cases, illegal.  It's never okay to show someone something horrifying, gory or cruel without their consent.

1 comment:

  1. I've never been a fan of that sort of 'advertising'. I hate it most not because I'm sensitive to gory images, but because of the dehumanizing, emotionally manipulative, and misleading nature of whatever they're usually posted about.

    Like you said, those photos remove the humanity and dignity of the people they're taken of. There is a place for those photos- in the context of teaching why the violence we see is wrong, a cause of concern, if even that.

    It also causes people to have immediate gut reactions that are often not related to actual facts; ie, it's emotionally manipulative. People see photos like that and text like that together, and they create a sudden, deep-rooted link regardless of what logic and actual data dictates is true. It's misleading and insulting.

    Not to mention that the one in particular is racist and xenophobic. "Islam" isn't killing girls any more than Christianity is. *People* are killing girls. No line of purportedly holy text is jumping off the page and using the pointy edges of it's lettering to stab people to death. *People* justify their darkest actions by blaming it on other things- religion being the biggest scapegoat amongst them. And there isn't a photo you can share that will stop that.

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