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Contrast in the News

This past week two sets of photos dominated the media and captured the public’s attention. Following are excerpts offered — on purpose — without commentary.

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 2716 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Jun.11.2006 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
denny’s comment is:

ugh.
Both make me kind of sick.
In almost the same way.

On Jun.12.2006 at 12:11 AM
Steve Adams’s comment is:

It's scary that we buy this bogus, bunk, whack, stuff.

On Jun.12.2006 at 02:29 AM
pk’s comment is:

that al-zarqawi photo is the equivalent of a head displayed on a pike in the middle ages. it's especially hypocritical knowing the government won't release images of american deaths.

On Jun.12.2006 at 03:11 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

I can't believe Zarqawi didn't make it to the cover of People. But that "Gotcha" blurb on the Post is hilarious, "Warm Up the Virgins." Is that for real?

On Jun.12.2006 at 05:28 AM
Unnikrishna Menon Damodaran’s comment is:

one is birth of new star(in the making)
other is death of an evil force.

birth of Shiloh is not a news, at least in West Asian countries.


On Jun.12.2006 at 05:33 AM
DutchKid’s comment is:

But that "Gotcha" blurb on the Post is hilarious, "Warm Up the Virgins." Is that for real?
Hilarious, even? I think it's incredibly tasteless.

On Jun.12.2006 at 07:17 AM
Bryony’s comment is:

Relevant?
Offensive.
Who cares?
Distasteful.
So what?
Disgusting.
Intrusive?
Odious.
Overboard?
Plain nasty.

On Jun.12.2006 at 07:27 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

Hilarious, even? I think it's incredibly tasteless.

Pshaw. Why?

On Jun.12.2006 at 08:29 AM
Jess’s comment is:

I think this epitomizes our society. Let's gloat in a smarmy way over our military victories and gush over "Brangelina's" infant as if we all know them personally.

I think at times American human beings have become so unplugged from reality that we can get away with this kind of garbage. It isn't knocking on our door, so we can eat it up like Halloween candy.

I also think it's highly disrespectful to a newborn child to force it into a photo-shoot that reminds me painfully of those b.s. perfume ads. What next? Streaming video of their family vacations? I don't find anything fascinating about either celeb. Never have.

Tasteless is the word for it.

On Jun.12.2006 at 08:38 AM
r agrayspace’s comment is:

At least the 4 million dollars that People paid for the Shiloh photographs is being given to charities that help needy children. I respect Angelina for her ability to use the system.

But as a country we are in constant denial. Denial about our celebrities, our politics, our economy, our environment. I don't think there is anything we as a people are willing to deal with realistically. As individuals sure, most of us are rational. As a people we appear to be hopeless.

On Jun.12.2006 at 08:50 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> "Warm Up the Virgins." Is that for real?

Jason, unfortunately, yes. On the hierarchy of Life, the New York Post is right up there with dog poo.

I hope I wasn't too ambiguous or seemingly lazy for putting up these photos without any sort of reasoning or without trying to make a point. I guess if I had a point it would be the inbalance of sensitivity that the media has generated. The image of a dead man becomes front page fodder, sitting on corner newsstands, delis, grocery stores, bookstores, subway entrances. It's just there. It's weird how we take images like these, if not for granted, at least as commonalities.

On the other hand, you have the uproar created by the birth of Shiloh, with every single gossip magazine in the world on the quest for the first image, and willing to pay any prize. The angelic photographs – shown across the globe, from the U.S., to Britain, to Italy to Australia – act as some sort of comfort zone... everything's okay, the baby is okay and Angelina is as hot after giving birth as she is on movies. It's just plain weird.

In a way, I appreciate these extremes, and finding the balance between the two, in as many things as we do day to day is a welcome challenge in a growingly complicated world.

So, anyway, back to kerning now.

On Jun.12.2006 at 09:03 AM
denny’s comment is:

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that jerk is dead. But there's something about that photo, and the way it's used that really makes me uncomfortable. Kinda "Pride cometh before the fall" type thing.


birth of Shiloh is not a news, at least in West Asian countries.
This Shilo buisness is pretty far off my radar, also.

On Jun.12.2006 at 10:01 AM
Randy’s comment is:

Though each of the al-Zarqawi images are from the same source, I find the Daily News image the most disturbing. I imagine the angle at which the photographer stood over the body, not unlike Brad of Shiloh in the image above, and my stomach churns at our collective "need" to see these images.

On Jun.12.2006 at 10:37 AM
DutchKid’s comment is:

Hilarious, even? I think it's incredibly tasteless.
Pshaw. Why?

This cover (The daily news) is the kind of imagery that makes large parts of the world think Americans are a cruel, ignorant people. Now I'm not saying this is true, but I can see where it's coming from. The fact that this man was a bad person doesn't justify the treatment of the cover. The magazine acts as if war is some kind of game... it's all sensation and no truth.

On Jun.12.2006 at 10:56 AM
szkat’s comment is:

"Perhaps the most obvious loss is what we call our sense of reality. Television combines news about the war, Paris Hilton’s career, global warming and Geico commercials into events of equal importance. The result is an enormous population that believes nothing matters....

When one is informed, one is strengthened. Persuasion does not guarantee the same result."

milton glaser, the designer/citizen. published on AIGA.org september 20, 2005

what grosses me out is the way the death is ambigious and glorified at the expense of our own dignity. just... the manner in which we're told to hate him, that he's a dog and a scoundrel and that it's just fine to make fun of his death and religion. al-Zarqawi might deserve everything he's getting, but this is obnoxious. it's an absolutely ignorant treatment. totally creepy.

On Jun.12.2006 at 10:56 AM
anomyous’s comment is:

The magazine acts as if war is some kind of game... it's all sensation and no truth.

just that one? how about media at large.

On Jun.12.2006 at 10:58 AM
designisalanismorisette(isntitironic,dontchathink)’s comment is:

its two pictures of people sleeping, what's the big deal?

On Jun.12.2006 at 11:14 AM
denny’s comment is:

its two pictures of people sleeping, what's the big deal?

Your comment is only slightly more ridiculous than your screen-name.

On Jun.12.2006 at 11:20 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Jason said:
Pshaw. Why?

Jason, you know i adore you, but PLEASE.

the glee and the forced hilarity of the "warm up the virgins" picture is, imho, final evidence that civilization is doomed.

whether or not Al-Zarqawi should or shouldn't have been assasinated is not what i am reacting to, btw. it is the utter tastelessness of the copy, the photography and the total presentation of this "event."

the whole thing is simply barbaric.

On Jun.12.2006 at 11:55 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

the whole thing is simply barbaric [with the 'Virgins' copy on the Post]

Barbaric? Debbie, thanks for the honest feedback, but I do not apologize for laughing at the ‘Virgins’ blurb for the same reason I won't apologize for watching (and laughing) at Team America. Barbaric isn't the best term, nor is the media’s handling of this barbaric. Call the recorded Zarqawi beheadings barbaric, but let’s just call the ‘Virgins’ blurb tasteless humor. And it’s humor that relieves the tension and distress relevant to our 'War on Terror.' What's so bad about that?

On Jun.12.2006 at 12:10 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

What's so bad about that?

What's bad about it is that there is nothing, NOTHING funny or humorous about war.

To equate Team America to the so-called War on Terror is shameful, with all due respect.

On Jun.12.2006 at 12:38 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"To equate Team America to the so-called War on Terror is shameful, with all due respect."

The similiarities seem to outweigh the differences.

On Jun.12.2006 at 12:49 PM
Izzy’s comment is:

Is the image of the dead Al-Zarqaw tasteless because it displayed for the general public to see? Or would the image be better suited in a museum/gallery setting as part of a someone's social commentary for a segmented audience. War is death. Death is part of the news. We live in an age where information comes at us in all directions, whether we want it or not. We need to know about everything about a certain subject to make judgement. Thus, the over abundance of info. So enjoy what we have created.

On Jun.12.2006 at 12:52 PM
Stephen’s comment is:

Maybe we should have shown a video of militants blowing off the head of their hostage instead?

And, yes, "Warm Up the Virgins" is tasteless, but at least it's not a cartoon of Al-Zarqawi.

On Jun.12.2006 at 01:39 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

The similiarities seem to outweigh the differences.

Thanks, Darrel. I'm not the only 'barbaric' one here, and not the only one making connections across media.

On Jun.12.2006 at 01:50 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

hey guys--i just did a google on "team america" and realized that it is not the US team in the race for the World Cup. i thought it was. sorry about that.

perhaps (just perhaps) the two "events" are closer than i realized, but nevertheless, i prefer to take whatever "high road" might be left in this world--i prefer not to celebrate death with tacky headlines and sinister hilarity. the situation we are in right now in our world is one that is dire, and i maintain that our war, their war and the world's wars are indeed barbaric.

it is not an either or choice for me--i'd rather not see anyone blowing *anyone's* head off. since when did lowering ourselves and our behavior to the basest, most heinous of actions become acceptable?

cue up martin luther king, jr. here, please.

On Jun.12.2006 at 01:59 PM
denny’s comment is:

"...since when did lowering ourselves and our behavior to the basest, most heinous of actions become acceptable?

Thank you. Sheeesh.

On Jun.12.2006 at 02:03 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

Do you think we could have had a discussion about contrast with only one picture from each event?

On Jun.12.2006 at 03:29 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Steve, my personal opinion is that no we couldn't. I mean, of course we could, we can do anything we want. But it is extremely important to acknowledge the media saturation and the barrage of exposure we get as news become news. Seeing the same image (or set of images) over and over and over in newspapers, in magazines, on the web, on TV and probably even on your cell phone is a big part of how we assimilate things.

On Jun.12.2006 at 03:38 PM
Steve’s comment is:

What isn't barbaric about ridiculing the dead on the same piece of paper that news about a football game might appear?

It doesn't matter what the entertainment (distraction) is, it seems. I think that people don't find this offensive is creepy almost. That's a dead guy... Alright? Like, dead and bloody. What's accomplished with this absolute lack of tact or modesty?

On Jun.13.2006 at 03:41 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

We're all focused on the $ Brangelina got from selling their baby images, but what nobody has been talking about is the $ paid for a dead Zarqawi image. I don't deny the horror of that image, but plastering it all over the media seems too politically motivated. Wag the dog.

On Jun.13.2006 at 06:21 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

From greg.org, as already linked elsewhere here by M. Kingsley:

"If there was any doubt about where the contemporary art market is going, they were dispelled this morning at Christie's Baghdad, where the US Government paid a record-setting $286 billion--plus $240 for framing--for this portrait of the dead Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."

The Brangelina picture was a bargain.

On Jun.13.2006 at 06:46 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

Oh, my goodness. That's quite a hefty sum of money, I'll bet Brangelina feel like they could've charged more now.

On Jun.13.2006 at 12:23 PM
dan’s comment is:

Now that we're talking money it seems too important not to point out why both 'sets' of images ran in the first place - one shock impact the other cutie factor both prove - time and again - they are major selling factors for media. But I’m guessing/hoping everyone knows that..? If so what’s really going on here (mainly in the case of the dead head)?

Despite it - I feel the 'hype' has reached a new low... and wtf is up with spending 286 billion on showing off a "dead head".

And Tselentis - never feel bad or apologize for laughing at Team America.

Another thing - didn't design go through the 'provocative' stage where shock was the new black? Is this media just proving shocks now gone mainstream...? If so isn’t it ironic that now design seems sanitized and safe with very little room for provocation?

On Jun.13.2006 at 12:57 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Just when you thought that civilization couldn't fall any further, welcome the new magazine from Hachette: Shock. And here is the lovely website.

This probably deserves a conversation on its own.

On Jun.13.2006 at 02:55 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

Ewwww. Thanks for that link Debbie. It's so bad, it'd good.

On Jun.13.2006 at 08:19 PM
Steve’s comment is:

wait - 286 billion... Is this the same money that's supposed to go towards education and stuff? What's going on there?

On Jun.14.2006 at 01:38 AM
szkat’s comment is:

huh. wonder what the new york post paid and why the government doesn't just buy a copy. split the difference in price with the taxpayers.

and WTF are they going to do with a picture of a dead man they claim to hate??! hang it in the oval office next to a $500,000 picture of bush giving a thumbs-up?

On Jun.14.2006 at 10:02 AM
Edmund’s comment is:

Tselentis’s comment is:

The similiarities seem to outweigh the differences.

Thanks, Darrel. I'm not the only 'barbaric' one here, and not the only one making connections across media.

Um, except that one is an idiotic satiritical puppet movie and the other is a media outlet which at least claims to be objective and serious. If you want to make connections across media as a *critique* of the Post thats one thing, but you genuinely seem to see nothing wrong with this appearing on the cover of a major newspaper. Personally, I expect this from Comedy Central, but not newspaper covers. There's a time and a place.

But its this kind of childish, thuggish behaviour (yeah, boyyyy!!! he's f*ckin dead! check it out! warm up the virgins, beeeotch!!) that makes Americans hated around the world, and we can't even recognize it because we're so deep into it. Although we're not alone in this, Jason: You should check out the covers on some of the propaganda rags in the dictatorships of the Middle East, you'd probably find yourself right at home reading those covers. We resemble nothing more than those we claim to be opposed to, sadly.

On Jun.15.2006 at 10:21 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"Um, except that one is an idiotic satiritical puppet movie and the other is a media outlet which at least claims to be objective and serious."

If people don't value the use of sarcasm/irony as a powerful and insightful way to critique society, I guess I'm not going to change their mind about it.

That said, many people DO find work like Team America and Stephen Colbert and the like to be very much a skilled art form. It is political satire that makes some very profound points, albeit wrapped in some humour.

I'd argue that Matt and Trey take their work MUCH more seriously than the NY Post and People. Both seem to want to make a quick buck and have some fun doing it, but the former seem to also want to put some depth and a message in their work. The latter just wants to sell the cover.

"There's a time and a place."

Maybe there was at one point. Not much anymore. There are still exceptions...still some major news outlets that focus on informing the public in an objective manner. But for the most part, those that are just out to sell more ad space FAR outweigh the rest.

"But its this kind of childish, thuggish behaviour (yeah, boyyyy!!! he's f*ckin dead! check it out! warm up the virgins, beeeotch!!) that makes Americans hated around the world"

No argument there. ;o)

We are a tastless bunch overall.

Maybe that's human nature.

Debbie...yes, comparing it to the World Cup would be a bit confusing. I can see how that was an odd comparison. ;o)

On Jun.15.2006 at 11:09 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

First, allow me to clarify something that started this all, But that "Gotcha" blurb on the Post is hilarious, "Warm Up the Virgins," doesn't mean that I agree with the media's choice to do it, nor does it mean that I champion such humor. It made me snicker, and that laugh was, and still is stifled by surprise. Or disgust? Maybe we haven't grown much since the 1940s when Bugs Bunny beat up on the "Nips", or is this the only way humans (or Americans) can cope with morality and mortality.

Edmund's correct, there's more to this argument than meets the eye and I too believe that this discussion would hold merit when approached with a critical eye and stronger analysis. But consider this, we live during a moment when a percentage of the US populuation gets their news from Comedy Central's shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Right or wrong, the Post's move to include that "barbaric, childish, and/or sick bubble" of text near Zarqawi's dead face appears to be a move towards the very media channel they are now competing with: Comedy Central. Edmund, you're correct about making a more defined critique of this situtation, and it's something I have been sourcing since Sept. 2002. There is a pervading use of sardonic communications across the media, especially when it comes to the War, Al Qaeda, Iraq, and even our President.

However, it's not the first time. During WWII, Bugs Bunny was often seen lampooning the likes of the Japanese and even Nazis (South Park wasn't the first one to beat up on US enemies, read about who Bugs beat up during the 1940s). Only now, and from what most of us have seen, things are becoming obscene. We have grown sensitive to this tone of voice---whether on South Park, Team America, Wonder Showzen, or the New York Post--maybe because we expect more from our country, its media, and its citizens.

On Jun.15.2006 at 11:30 AM
Greg’s comment is:

"If there was any doubt about where the contemporary art market is going, they were dispelled this morning at Christie's Baghdad, where the US Government paid a record-setting $286 billion--plus $240 for framing--for this portrait of the dead Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."

I have a disturbing feeling that the point was missed by a few... I feel that it should be made clear that the $286 billion is the cost of the full war on terror to date, not the cost of the framing of a picture, nor even the cost of the attack on Al-Zarqawi himself.

And, c'mon, $240 bucks for framing? I know a guy that would have done it for $80. Though it's puzzling why they needed it framed anyway. Maybe it's going on the mantle at the White House. Seems to be the M.O. there - downplay the myriads of failures and scandals, broadcast loudly the few successes. Maybe they should have had a ceremony with a "mission accomplished" banner. I wonder where that banner is now? They could reuse it.

I feel like the comparison between the Iraq War and America's World Cup soccer team may have been more apt. America has become a team to root for, put the big red, white, and blue "W" on your bumper, cheer their successes, forget the losses. The Al-Zarqawi photo takes the place of the trophy.

On Jun.15.2006 at 11:37 AM
szkat’s comment is:

"Um, except that one is an idiotic satiritical puppet movie and the other is a media outlet which at least claims to be objective and serious."

If people don't value the use of sarcasm/irony as a powerful and insightful way to critique society, I guess I'm not going to change their mind about it.

the problem is that the Post, etc does not ever claim to be part of the irony-driven crowd. i wonder what their editors would say were they asked. either way, that "warm up the virgins" isn't all that clever, IMHO.

had me thinking of Jon Stewart on Crossfire:

STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.

BEGALA: We do, do...

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.

to Tselentis’s point about "...appears to be a move towards the very media channel they are now competing with...." to what degree do you think the public separates the two? i'm facinated by the division between people my age (25) listening to the media vs. those that make fun, and now CNN et al trying to reach out / bridge the gap by joining in without any of the absolutely requisite street cred.

On Jun.15.2006 at 11:38 AM