'Evil doesn't wear a trench coat, doesn't have bad teeth, doesn't announce itself.'
December 18, 2004 9:43 AM   Subscribe

Nineteen Faces :: Nik adds some thoughtful commentary to photos found on US Sex Offender Registry websites. I find Number Six to be most interesting.
posted by anastasiav (34 comments total)
 
Holy crap.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:48 AM on December 18, 2004


I have to agree with mcwetboy that number 17 is unbelievable.
posted by huzzahhuzzah at 9:55 AM on December 18, 2004


Very provocative site, Anastasiav. Well-written, too.
posted by digaman at 10:16 AM on December 18, 2004


You have to work hard to make me feel bad for vermin. But the author is definitely laughing at human misery.

Why didn't he use photos of upwardly mobile sex offenders? Is it:

A. All perverts are poor.

B. The point of this exercise is to make us feel better about our problems and have a good laugh at people that are truly wretched.

(Yeah, yeah, there's a priest in there. One of 19.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:40 AM on December 18, 2004


In retrospect, I should have said "This is the internet equivalent of taunting the patients of Bedlam, with the justification that the subjects are bad people. The real focus of this site is the character of the viewer."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2004


This could have been done much better. While it's interesting to ponder their faces, the author sometimes takes his conjecture uncomfortably far. In #13, he writes, "Total lack of comprehension. He has absolutely no idea what has happened, what is happening, what will happen. He is a soap bubble. Admittedly a destructive one. Deaf, dumb, and blind to everything. Drifting through existence, unaware of what he is doing, and why anyone would complain about it."

Dude, you can't tell that from a picture. It's more powerful to let the photo tell the story, accompanied by the simple facts of the case. As in, yes, #17.
posted by flod at 10:47 AM on December 18, 2004


This guy is poor? Or this guy? Or him? Or her?
Maybe my ability to classify is off, but these look pretty "middle-class" to me (although under terrible lighting).
Sure, there's no "Daddy Warbucks" in there, but I bet that's due more in part to the quality of lawyers afforded at that rung than greater moral fortitude.
It's interesting that we're making our own assumptions about what qualities are right and wrong to infer from these photos.
I wonder if that was part of the "artist's" intent?
posted by numlok at 10:55 AM on December 18, 2004


Ah... I didn't read the new comments on "preview".
Good points. Especially just leaving the pictures be.
posted by numlok at 10:57 AM on December 18, 2004


I guess this is the contemporary equivalent of Ostracism in which the "offender" is exposed to scare other offenders into not committing more crimes.

I think prevention by fear doesn't work, as much as security by obscurity doesn't work. If they do work they do for a short amount of time and with sometimes predictable bad outcomes.

Indeed as AnastasiaV points out the system allows Number Six to be registered as sex offender, while it's obvious she didn't do anything wrong to anybody (didn't force anybody into anything ). Also #4 is very interesting as she's charged with statutory rape....I'd like to know if she seduced the guy/man/kid into sex or if she forced him/her into sex..the difference here would be interesting.

As for the psycological damanges, I guess the biggest one is being made by declaring sex to be a sin or a problem or a source of evil ; the last few generations still suffer from deep psycological scars caused by deviant representation of sex a force that is totally out of human control ...a daemon or an evil that's out of rational control. Nothing could be more false, but hey we give money to religious congegrations promoting absitinence and primarily IGNORANCE.

God damn fear-based religions !
posted by elpapacito at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2004


Why didn't he use photos of upwardly mobile sex offenders?

People that can afford lawyers aren't entered into the database; they're just relocated to a new parish.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2004


numlock, how could we know if any of the four people you linked is poor, rich or in between?

OTOH, I have no idea how posting (unaltered) pictures and adding commentary that IMO is pretty hit or miss and at least in several instances is more political than attempt at drama or humor is art.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2004


This registered sex offender likes long walks on the beach, fondling children, and weeping uncontrollably with shame. What happened to make him this way? How could someone so scared-looking actually act on his perverted impulses?

yeah ok, this sucks.
posted by puke & cry at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2004


billsaythis: Exactly my point. I was responding to Mayor Curley's 10:40 post.
Sorry for the thread discontinuity, it took me too long to copy/paste the URLs into my post.
posted by numlok at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2004


HA HA! You retard! HA HA HA HA!

This site sickens me.

The real focus of this site is the character of the viewer.

Well said, Mr. Mayor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:10 PM on December 18, 2004


This part of his site is good, at least.
posted by Vulpyne at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2004


This is a double post. People didn't really like it the first time, either.
posted by driveler at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2004


This made me cry.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2004


"You have to work hard to make me feel bad for vermin. But the author is definitely laughing at human misery."

Am I missing something here? My impression is that the site is attempting to point out how oppressive and overinclusive both the laws and the "registered offender" sites are. I don't think the author is laughing at all. He's pointing out that some laws, such as the Louisiana sodomy law are absurd, and that you can't assume all "offenders" are evil perverts.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:44 PM on December 18, 2004


This is just fucking creepy. Is the intention humor or commentary? I don't get it.

Awkward. Bad. Boo.
posted by xmutex at 2:47 PM on December 18, 2004


this one tells me exactly why Nik feels compelled to post these selective images. he wants to be, like, totally funny. and stuff.

oh, and ditto Xmutex.
posted by NationalKato at 2:57 PM on December 18, 2004


Number 9 looks a bit like an angry LLoyd Dobbler.
posted by Modgoddess at 3:09 PM on December 18, 2004


Whatever it's intentions, and they need not be clear, this is a great post. It makes me confront things I would rather not.

That some of these folks spent any time in jail at all is sad. That some of them ever got out is sad.
posted by xammerboy at 3:26 PM on December 18, 2004


xammerboy, that's the classic conundrum of our penal system. half the people in our prisons should never be there in the first place. the other half should never get out.

I forget who said that originally, but it's still true.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on December 18, 2004


re: Number Six.

"Being convicted of this crime, she was fined up to $2000 American and spent up to five years in jail."

Spent or could have spent? The claim sounds highly suspect to me. What was this woman's crime exactly?!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:00 PM on December 18, 2004


Am I missing something here? My impression is that the site is attempting to point out how oppressive and overinclusive both the laws and the "registered offender" sites are.

that was my impression also, the first time i saw this site linked here.
posted by t r a c y at 5:06 PM on December 18, 2004


I get it: sex offender registry as a form of entertainment.

But you know what? Whoever made this site should be careful: even sex offenders can sue.
posted by buddhanarchist at 5:39 PM on December 18, 2004


Really, really badly written. Sex offense is dramatic enough without the bullshit pathos the author piled on.
posted by armoured-ant at 6:02 PM on December 18, 2004


Badly done, on all levels. As others have pointed out, the writing is clumsy unto incoherence — what's Nik's point? Even assuming that he/she is trying to demonstrate the ambiguity of sex-crime sentencing (which is a rich source of commentary, cf. this post), it's not nearly enough to gak up some ambiguous commentary and call it a day. As is, it's exploitative blather. In too many goddamn colors! Don't get me started on the painful graphic design.
posted by vetiver at 6:56 PM on December 18, 2004


Like digaman and anastasiav, I quite like the site. I'm quite bemused that people find it badly written -- what little writing there is is not egregiously bad. Not great, perhaps, but certainly not bad. A little histrionic, at times.

I don't get the impression that the author is trying to point out much of anything, or trying for either humour or much in the way of social commentary (and where he does make that reach, he fails, I think). I quite enjoy the idea that he's just picked 20 pictures, and written about what the images of these people make him hear in his head.

I like it.

But I like Cliff better.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:32 PM on December 18, 2004


I'm able to like it in the way the stav suggests, but still the writer gives me the creeps. He is projecting so much into these photos that I continually find myself wondering about his motivations, which doesn't take me to many places I like.

Repost, btw. I think I capped on it the first time as mean spirited and classist. This time, stav gave me some perspective, so I can think of it as a pack of annotated Polaroids discarded by a loner with a rich and frightening internal world.
posted by squirrel at 1:41 AM on December 19, 2004


Interesting photos, probably one of the most dreadful uses of typographic color I've seen in a long time.
posted by pumpkinhead at 4:21 AM on December 19, 2004


Nik (who I don't know, but who I wrote to after seeing this site) asked me to post the following:

I started the Sex Offender stuff strictly because I like faces and paint them obsessively. Faces have been an obsession since high school. If you're looking for plain, straight-forward, dead pan faces staring straight ahead, there's nothing better than these websites. Not just the sex offender ones. If you know where to look, you can find prison inmates and more.

I know this sounds kind of morbid, but strictly from a material-for-portraits stand point, these faces are incredibly useful to me. And yes, I'm aware of the irony -- I find the sex offender websites offensive. I think they rob these people of their humanity. The sites make sure these people are punished for life, without any hope of being "cured" or achieving a normal existence. Yet here I am, using them myself. When I say the purposes of these sites are to "entertain us", I'm being sarcastic, but not really. They are there to entertain us, much like Bedlam was. And that's sick, but here we are. Or here I am, anyway, looking at them.

So I started collecting the faces that struck me as fascinating. And then I started speculating, who are these people? How did they get here? For the most part, I don't believe in evil. Tragedies happen because of accidents, loneliness, cruelty, and pain that "force" a person into badness. Someone said, quite strangely, "How can you get so much from a photograph?" I can't. I'm making it up. I'm reading the photos like tea leaves. I'm speculating.

When I hit 19 faces -- 19, the age of adulthood? -- I felt like I'd said and done all I needed to on the topic. To this day, I still surf the sex offender websites now and then, looking for faces. On my wall of my art room, there are a dozen black and white print outs of sex offenders. It got to be too much after a while, so I scratched out their eyes with a blue coloured pencil. Say what you will about these people, the photos of them are intense and terrifying, whether they are incurable monsters or not.

Nik

posted by digaman at 4:40 PM on December 19, 2004


I think the photos are like Roarshack tests. They scare us to the degree that we fear our own demons. This Nik guy has made a fairly interesting blog about his own fears. I'm glad I saw it a second time.
posted by squirrel at 5:30 PM on December 19, 2004


"On my wall of my art room, there are a dozen black and white print outs of sex offenders. It got to be too much after a while, so I scratched out their eyes with a blue coloured pencil."

That sentence worries me far more than any of the photographs, particularly in view of the "speculation" in the text that accompanies them. What happens when the blue pencil doesn't let you edit them from your minds eye anymore? Why not just take the damn things down?

"Say what you will about these people, the photos of them are intense and terrifying, whether they are incurable monsters or not."

Only because of the place you found them, and the things you think you know about them. Would they be scary if you'd seen them on a missing persons listing? Or a local bowling team page? Don't let your imagination make you ugly.
posted by Gamecat at 8:42 PM on December 19, 2004


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