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Crying babies
June 28, 2006 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Jill Greenberg is a Sick Woman Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse. The "End Times" exhibit in question. And then there is Ms. Greenberg and her husband's response(s). Somebody's over-reacting.
posted by spock (270 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
forgot the: "via BoingBoing".
posted by spock at 10:10 AM on June 28, 2006


They're babies, wouldn't they have started bawling eventually anyway?
posted by jonmc at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2006


I think the fact that she could stand to be around such screaming kids indicates some sort of total weirdness beyond my comprehension. And taking away lollipops is mean. Yet, somehow, I'm just not that outraged.
posted by dame at 10:12 AM on June 28, 2006


The real abuse here is not that the kids are screaming, it's that the photos are freakishly processed.
posted by Nelson at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2006


Hawk says:
But for her to say that she "manipulates her subjects to evoke an emotion," and then citing things like giving them a lollipop and then taking it away from them just to see them cry and get angry and then shoot them, this is just wrong.

Irrespective of her statement as an artist this is evil.
He needs to re-think his definition of evil.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:14 AM on June 28, 2006


Those are some heavily Photoshopped kids...
posted by Orange Goblin at 10:16 AM on June 28, 2006


If only internet pissing matches involved real piss.

I can't figure out how he know exactly what Greenburg did to these kids. I mean, if she beat them sure, that's not so cool, but presumably some parent was there while this was going on. But it's a pretty far cry (pardon the pun) from child abuse. But all I see are the photos, which are definitely evocative, but there's no way to tell how she got these kids so worked up.
posted by GuyZero at 10:17 AM on June 28, 2006


but there's no way to tell how she got these kids so worked up.

She showed them naked pictures of Ann Coulter.
posted by jonmc at 10:19 AM on June 28, 2006


I'm with Nelson. It's not the art, statement or bawling kids that bother me.

It's the absolutely lurid, clinical lighting and processing in the photos that's freaking me out. It might even be somewhat less disturbing if it actually was pornographic or sexualized, but it's like some kind of surreal, robotic technique that's oppositional or orthogonal to commercial soft focus Sears or Wal-Mart studio portraits.

Which is probably the point, and probably what's freaking people out about it so much. It's like anti-portraiture, as far as conventional mainstream portraiture is concerned.
posted by loquacious at 10:19 AM on June 28, 2006


Oh, that's nothing new. Look at all those airbrushed babies on the cover of Parentiing magazine, promulgating negative body images and instigating the current wave in baby plastic surgery.

Is my belly round enough? Can I reach the top of my head with my tiny arms? Are my eyes limpid enough?

Questions like these are on the minds of every single baby in America at this very moment.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:20 AM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


American Photo podcast in which she discusses her techniques and goals with the "End Times" series.
posted by spock at 10:23 AM on June 28, 2006


Well, that and who's gonna change their diaper.
posted by jonmc at 10:23 AM on June 28, 2006


Personally, I find the photographs upsetting (I have two young children) and the artist's statement ridiculous, but I can't find a way to characterize this defensibly as "evil."

I mean, kids cry like that when they get a booster shot but we don't often accuse the attending physician or nurse of "evil" acts. A few tears quickly forgotten seem justified when considered against the consequences of non-immunization.

Assuming the children are not being deeply scarred by the photographer's manipulations on set (most kids get over being teased with a lollipop without requiring therapy), I guess we have to ask what the justification is for causing them this brief pain.

Beauty? Well, the images *are* beautiful photography (once I get past my sense of compassion which makes me want to join them crying), and the utterly unabashed emotionality of the subjects is awesome.

Meaning? Weaker case here. The artist's politics sound like they come from speaking under an ass-hat. But I generally find artists' statements about their work to be off-putting, even for work/artists I really enjoy. The poppycock content is just too dman high for me to stomach (too many years at art school, I reckon).

Still...evil? Much as this discomfits me, I don't buy it. It provokes a strong response. Nobody gets permenantly hurt. That's definitely one use of art.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2006


Not evil, but what a jerk.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:28 AM on June 28, 2006


A none-too-subtle jab at the Bush administration? I almost slipped on the kitchen floor from laughing at that.
posted by raysmj at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2006


You're on a roll in this thread jonmc.
Keep up the great one liners!
posted by nofundy at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2006


HUGE discussion on this topic here:
posted by BobsterLobster at 10:30 AM on June 28, 2006


The photos are heavily retouched and kind of nasty and gross. Why would anyone want crying, screaming children pictures?

I don't necessarily think its child abuse but I do think the photos are creepy and not something I'd want anywhere near me. I have kids, I know what they look like when they are crying and I very much prefer to have them smiling and happy. Strangely enough, so do they.
posted by fenriq at 10:30 AM on June 28, 2006


An artist she may be, but a genius she is not.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:33 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't see the artists response anywhere. I see the same guy chastising Greenberg then saying what her response is but I seriously doubt his objectivity.
posted by puke & cry at 10:34 AM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


Oops, lost the rest of it.

Reminds me of an episode of A Bit of Fry and Laurie I watched last week, wherein an obviously uncomprehending baby was being interrogated by two inept investigators. Funny until they shouted at it, startled it, and got the intended response.

Kids have simple responses to stimuli, it doesn't make them fucking props.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:34 AM on June 28, 2006


First, I agree with pretty much everything CB says.

However, is anyone else having trouble swallowing the "took away their lollipop" explanation? Not one of my three kids would have ever displayed that degree of anguish simply from having a lollipop taken away. They might have looked confused, or angry, or looked pleadingly at me ("Dad, who is this crazy woman and why is she taking away my candy? Oh, and why don't I have a shirt on?"), but they would not have looked terrified with tears running down their faces. Color me skeptical.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:35 AM on June 28, 2006


I'm just glad to finally be able to use the phrase "like taking candy from a baby" in a literal context.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 10:36 AM on June 28, 2006


Anyone who takes a lollipop away from a child in order to make them cry is okay in my book.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on June 28, 2006


Kids have simple responses to stimuli, it doesn't make them fucking props.

There is a too-obvious crack about Republicans that fits here.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:37 AM on June 28, 2006


evil is correct, in a small way, but i think a more accurate description is "mean" ... let's put it this way ... there's no chance in hell i'd ever let her do that to my kid ... giving a vaccination shot to a child serves a greater purpose that serves the child ... i don't believe that "art" or model fees are a good enough purpose for this

(and she could just take pictures of vaccinated kids and get the same results, couldn't she?)

i think someone should grab her camera away and take pictures of her reaction
posted by pyramid termite at 10:37 AM on June 28, 2006


A vast number of people's children cry at the drop of a hat -- especially if it's a hat that makes them happy, pardonyou?. Spoiled children scream.
posted by blacklite at 10:37 AM on June 28, 2006


Artist perspective -

1) It's suppose to provoke some sort of strong or emotional response in the viewer.
2) No babies harmed or abused (IMHO)
Mission accomplished.

Blogger perspective -

1) I want attention and I'm a busy-body
2) Crying babies = abuse
Successful blog post.

It's really a win-win.
posted by Binkeeboo at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow, that guy's an idiot. Children cry at the drop of a hat, then one minute later, they've forgotten about it. Big deal.

And I don't think these are photos - they look like paintings based on photos. (It's not like the child is going to hold that pose for you.) And, yeah they're creepy. That's the point. Duh.
posted by fungible at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2006


I just happened to browse her Monkey Portraits and End Times photo galleries a few days ago and thought they were both fantastic, the lighting in particular. I'm surprised they're controversial.
posted by driveler at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2006


Wow, they're ALL overreacting. Ever see a movie or TV show with a crying kid in it? That kid was made to cry for our enjoyment. How is it any different if it's done for photography?

On the other hand, contacting a critic's employer about his blog... that's just nuts. I think all of these people need a diaper change.
posted by gurple at 10:40 AM on June 28, 2006


Count me in among the "not outraged".

(Full disclosure: Jill Greenberg was a good college friend of mine, and I lived with her in a basement apartment my sophomore year of college, which she decorated with her collection of vintage dildos -for display purposes only, people!) She did have a somewhat dark sense of humor, but her work has always been technically and conceptually rigorous. She definitely has been an early trail-blazer in over the top retouching and manipulation (hence her website's name) as the world was moving toward digital.

She's said some interesting things in the past about not improving on nature to hide imperfections, but remaking it completely. I like this latest series of work. The images of immediate and unfiltered, primal raw emotions of the children's reactions photoshopped to a sheen usually reserved for fetishized commodities creates a series of intriguing questions.

Cast in the right colors and light, manipulated and polished, can *any* image evoke feelings of desire or attraction? Can it be beautiful? There's a fight going on within all of these images, and it's not just over a lollipop.
posted by stagewhisper at 10:40 AM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


I hate it when I use the same cliche as someone two minutes earlier.
posted by fungible at 10:40 AM on June 28, 2006


Somebody's over-reacting.

Seems to me that everyone involved is over-reacting, though I'm inclined to side with Greenberg, if only because she clearly hasn't done anything to harm the children and the resulting work is interesting (not great, mind, but interesting).

And is there any evidence that Greenberg and her husband have threatened to sue/contacted 'Boing Boing pal' Thomas Hawk's work beyond his claims that they have?
posted by jack_mo at 10:41 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I smell a law suit in 17 years time.
posted by shoepal at 10:41 AM on June 28, 2006


CheeseburgerBrown,

Your analogy to immunization boosters is incomplete. If you stuck a child with a needle for the sole purpose of getting an emotional reaction that could be captured and sold for thousands of dollars, that would be evil.

Most of the counter-examples proffered (kids already cry because ____), both here and at Hawks' blog, involve normal, proper child-raising activities. Sure, a child may also act that way when you won't let them play with the pretty knife, but the denial is prompted by a concern for the child's safety, and not a pecuniary interest in filming their distress.

It might be interesting to see the blogosphere's reaction if Greenberg arranged to photograph children during their immunizations. True, it would still be exploitation, but at least the children's anguish would be "real", and not manufactured for the express financial gain of Ms. Greenberg et al.
posted by mbrutsch at 10:41 AM on June 28, 2006


I loved Greenberg's pictures of chimps; this project sounded more interesting than it turned out to be ("Grand Old Party" reamins a great image, and title).

me, I'd never let a photographer do something that makes my baby suffer, but Greenberg -- who's certainly pretty unsympathetic -- mostly used models, so it's really their parent's fault for taking a (incidentally, Salgado's trick to take portraits of unsmiling children is, simply, to glare at them, very harshly).

MeFi parents, raise your hand if you'd allow Greenberg to take your kid's photo.

more power to her anyway, it's photography that makes people discuss and, hopefully, think -- you don't have to like it, it's there to make you use your brain (unlike, say, TV shows or ads).

having said that, she's been very unsportsmanlike behaving as she did with Thomas Hawk (who, by the way, should learn that if you start a blog post with "X is a sick person" and you hurl accusations of paedophilia at them, they'll probably be very pissed off and they'll try to damage you)
posted by matteo at 10:42 AM on June 28, 2006


I think what disturbs people about this isn't the issue itself -- after all, commercial photographers and cinematographers do exactly the same thing on a daily basis, with the aim of selling you a product.

Because those pictures are presented as individual images, we simply accept them, don't think anything about the process that went into making them, and move on -- consuming, or not consuming that product as the case may be.

Through the act of presenting repeated photographs of distressed infants, this artist has actually forced people to think about what actually does go into making such images.

I dunno whether that was her intention, but I'd consider her work to be a success in this instance.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2006


I forgot the links: GOP and monkeys
posted by matteo at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2006


my problem with greenberg is simple ... there's enough suckage in life as there is ... why willingly add to it?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:45 AM on June 28, 2006


MeFi parents, raise your hand if you'd allow Greenberg to take your kid's photo.

It depends.

Would I let her take a lollipop from my child, and see it cry for a minute or two while she snapped a few shots?

Yes, I probably would.

Would I let her subject my child to repeated distress over a long period, for the sake of a photograph?

No, I definitely wouldn't.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:46 AM on June 28, 2006


I love the defense that "this is what they do in commercials." Yeah, way to hold up those high standards.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:46 AM on June 28, 2006


I smell a law suit in 17 years time.

Probably a class action if all the kids get together.

I am not outraged, but I don't see the "art" in pictures of crying babies.

Sounds like a couple of over educated soccer mom's going at it to me.

Where did she find the people willing to let their children be subjected to this anyway? That sounds like the bigger problem.
posted by a3matrix at 10:47 AM on June 28, 2006


Having a strong opinion on "art" = ok.

Making legal threats, calling employers = not ok.

Incorporating above threats in pissing contest with legendary internet piss-contestant in order garner free press = brilliant.
posted by drpynchon at 10:49 AM on June 28, 2006


The million dollar question is: what made these kids cry?

The photograph is a record of an act. All we see here is the reaction; we don't see the action that provoked the reaction. I'm also skeptical as to whether taking candy away would result in the level of emotion shown here - though it could be, I guess (I'm a father of two), depending on the children.

These pictures raise all sorts of interesting questions, but for me those questions would be raised even if these were paintings and not photographic in origin (IOW even if no real children were involved). These remind me of nothing so much as Santa pictures really - just minus the Santa.

I like the effect on the photographs however; does anyone know how one would achieve that effect?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2006


Thomas Hawk is such a crybaby.
posted by ninjew at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2006


I balk at the "child abuse" label. If this is child abuse, then stealing a kiss is rape.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2006


What pyramid termite said.

No, it's not evil, but it's definitely mean spirited and not OK.

I can't believe the number of "kids cry a lot, so what?" comments here. Young kids cry more often because their emotional responses are stronger, not because they're wimps (which is what many of you seem to suggest).

How 'bout someone tricks you into believing that someone close to you just died and then snaps a picture of your misery before explaining that everything is actually OK? Still have that 'no harm, no foul' feeling?
posted by Ickster at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2006


On the other hand, contacting a critic's employer about his blog... that's just nuts.

I think it's pretty moderate myself. If somebody posted a blog claiming that I was 'sick' and a child abuser, they'd probably find me paying them a visit to discuss the matter in person.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:57 AM on June 28, 2006


This is also the same guy that went batshitinsane on those sketchy fly-by-night camera shops that sell the cameras at a loss and then bully people into buying overpriced accessories. He seems to have a tendency to get worked up and enjoys a war of words. He's a bit of a causehead. As drpynchon says, he's a "legendary internet piss-contestant."

Is it blog sweeps week or something?

The guy needs to get a grip. Photographers are often horrible people. They violate privacy, stalk celebrities, photograph death, dismemberment, and all manner of unspeakable things (staged and unstaged). They often document unfolding tragedies instead of helping the people that are suffering.

I love kids, but I fail to see how making a handful of babies become enraged for a few minutes by whatever (non-sexual) means is necessary for a photograph is worthy of such animosity when there are far worse atrocities taking place.
posted by shoepal at 10:58 AM on June 28, 2006


I balk at the "child abuse" label. If this is child abuse, then stealing a kiss is rape.

IANAL, but "stealing a kiss" can readily fall well within the legal definitions of harrassment and assault. Just so you know.

Oh, and deliberately causing distress for no other purpose than self-gratification is abuse. Being "mild" abuse doesn't make it not abuse.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:59 AM on June 28, 2006


My grandmother has a set of photographs of my father, taken when he was an infant. He has a different facial expression in each shot: smiling, quizzical, etcetera. In one image, he's crying. My grandmother informed me that in order to get that shot, the photographer pinched my father.

Anyone who wants to start persecuting baby-tormenting photographers has a whole lot of work ahead of them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2006


Also, this is small beans: Mr. Hawk should check Santiago Sierra out next time he wants to generate some traffic for his weblog - he pays crack-addled whores and destitute labourers a pittance to have a foot-long line tattooed on their backs, then photographs the results. (Though his stuff seems a lot more rigorous, conceptually speaking, as well as more shocking, than Greenberg's.)
posted by jack_mo at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2006


meh
posted by mischief at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2006


Faint of Butt, good point. Those horrid baby photographing stores often cause babies to become enraged without doing anything but shining lights and squeezing teddy bears and they're making millions doing it. Perverts!
posted by shoepal at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2006


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by NationalKato at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thomas Hawk of "Photographing Architecture is not a crime" notoriety has lost any cache of cool he once had. Was he on meds when he made that post? Was he traumatized over lollipop loss as an infant? Who cares? Greenberg apparently had full consent of the infant's parents, who were present while the photos were being made.

The process of how the art was made is far more interesting than the artist and what they say it means, but hey, that's just me. I found the photos compelling.

That this came from b.b. is further proof that boing boing is [insert snarky projection].

Thanks for the link spock.
posted by tzelig at 11:04 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Art, said Marsahall McCluhan, is anything you can get away with
posted by Postroad at 11:04 AM on June 28, 2006


Children cry at the drop of a hat, then one minute later, they've forgotten about it.

Kids cry for an incredibly diverse range of reasons before they establish confidence in the power of words.

When my sons were young, I was amazed at how much they could make adults do with variations of one sound.
posted by rcade at 11:05 AM on June 28, 2006


"Young kids cry more often because their emotional responses are stronger, not because they're wimps (which is what many of you seem to suggest)."

C'mon, young kids ARE wimps. Mine can hardly take a punch.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 AM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


IANAL, but "stealing a kiss" can readily fall well within the legal definitions of harrassment and assault.

So it is rape?

Let me rephrase. Calling this child abuse is like stepping on an ant and calling it genocide.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:07 AM on June 28, 2006


I love the defense that "this is what they do in commercials." Yeah, way to hold up those high standards.

Something tells me that you aren't a parent, George_Spiggott.

Because crying is something that many children do -- every day, several times a day, in response to all manner of things.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:07 AM on June 28, 2006


I would allow my kids to have this done. Kids crying to me ain't no big deal. Kids cry and the wind blows. Its nothing to be alarmed about.
posted by I Foody at 11:10 AM on June 28, 2006


Maybe these photos have come too close on the heels of the post about torturing children, or maybe I'm just too protective of children, but these make me profoundly uncomfortable, emotionally and intellectually. And just because that's the point doesn't make it ok.

Beautiful though.
posted by Richard Daly at 11:12 AM on June 28, 2006


Astro Zombie, let me help: "Calling this child abuse is like calling eating a cherry out of the bin at the supermarket 'larceny'." Is that kinda what you're going for? Because your other comparisons were technically invalid, but this at least communicates the "matter of degree" point which you appear to be trying for. Happy to help.

PeterMcDermott, I just found it entertaining that anyone would uphold the practices used in making commercials as in indicator of a thing's morality. Nothing more.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2006


Making points by metaphor is like making bull's eyes by throwing bananas.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:16 AM on June 28, 2006 [3 favorites]


Making points about metaphor by using simile is the wind flapping the pennants on the used car lot.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:18 AM on June 28, 2006 [3 favorites]


"I saw this little girl who'd come to a party with her mom, and she was beautiful, so I thought it might be interesting to photograph her. When they came to my studio, the mother brought along her toddler son, and I decided to shoot him too. We took off his shirt because it was dirty. He started crying on his own, and I shot that, and when I got the contact sheets back I thought, "This could go with a caption, 'Four More Years, ...'"

Cry Babies: Jill Greenberg answers the critics who claim she abuses toddlers in the name of art
posted by xod at 11:18 AM on June 28, 2006


This discussion reminded me of the most disturbing crying photo I've seen: Photojournalist Tara McParland taking one of herself after a grim cancer diagnosis. She died two months later, encouraging a friend at the paper to take shots during her final hours.
posted by rcade at 11:20 AM on June 28, 2006


And stagewhisper, thanks for the link to Jill's site.
posted by xod at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2006


Like many, I think "evil" may be overstating it, but "jerk" and "mean" and "ceepy" pretty much cover it.

The lolipop explaination is pathetic -- my son might break down at strange times over seemingly inconsequential stuff, but giving him a lolipop and then taking it away wouldn't start a meltdown. Now, giving him a lolipop, letting him have some, taking it away and then taunting him with it might. Either way, such behavior is mean and even though Thomas Hawk's outrage seems over the top, he's riight to be upset by this. In fact, provoking outrage seems to be her goal: She utilizes this uncomfortable image as a way to break through to the pop mainstream and begin a national dialogue. -- She wants to get a rise out of people to make them dialogue about an unrelated topic, but the point is, she wants to get a rise out of people. The way she achieves this is by being mean to kids. Having acheived it (people are now upset because she's been mean to children), she and her husband act surprised that people are upset when this is what the exhibit was designed to do: upset people.

She's pretty stupid if she really thought that these photos would open dialogue about the war in Iraq or fundamentalism. The dialogue is about the photos themselves, and the ethics behind making them.

And finally, even if the lolipop story is true, it doesn't matter. Why? Because to the children, the emotional distress is real. The excuse that children experience such distress over what seem to us to be insignificant events or things does not make thier distress any less real.
As a father of a toddler, I have to deal with my son experiencing such distress fairly frequently. Part of that means teaching him how to deal with those emotions. When he does melt down, my goal for him is that he learn how to deal with the emotion while still understanidng that the emotion is real and valid. I do not belittle his feelings. I do try to teach him how to react to them. I try to teach him constructive means of expressing them. I don't simply change the external circumstances to stop him from crying. In short, I don't make it a goal for aovid meltdowns.
But on the other hand, I don't provoke him or deliberately put him in situations where he'll become upset. I try to see the world from his persepcrtive and treat him with compassion. That means I keep my promises and behave with as much consistency as I can. If I give him a lolipop then he gets to keep it unless he is disobedient with it (like, he knows he shouldn't lay it down on the ground or stick it in his hair).

In short, I respect him. He's a human being. Many adults do not respect children, but I work to respect all human beings, including children.

To put it another way, imagine if I were to do the same thing with adults. I would contact the person they most trust and ask them to be co-conspirators with me on an art project. I would find out what really pushes their buttons, and with the help of their trusted person, fabricate that situation, and the video it. I would display these videos on the internet without their consent, and put them in a gallery and label them "art" and say that my goal is to open a dialogue about how terrible tv sitcoms are.

"Manipulator" is apt here. Human beings ought not be manipulated like digital images, and either she thinks us so stupid that we'll buy the "I'm interested in a dialogue about Iraq" line or she thinks us so easily manipulated that we'll actually move from viewing these photos to discussing Iraq. Either way, her respect for us is on par with her respect for her subject matter.

In short, Greenberg has no respect for these children, and no respect for her audience.She may not be evil, but she doesn't strike me as particularly good either -- most "manipulators" aren't.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:22 AM on June 28, 2006 [7 favorites]


Making points by metaphor is like making bull's eyes by throwing bananas.



Oh man, Socrates is *so* gonna kick your ass for saying that.



posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 11:23 AM on June 28, 2006


Metafilter: a couple of over educated soccer moms going at it
posted by hermitosis at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2006


kids cry, yes. making kids cry? thats mean. Not evil by any stretch though. Blog dood over reacted. But threats and intimidation? photographer and friends TOTALLY over reacted.

in the end EVERYONE here is a crying baby.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2006


I just found it entertaining that anyone would uphold the practices used in making commercials as in indicator of a thing's morality.

Fair enough, but I don't think that was the intention. The point was that it's standard practice throughout the professional photography and cinematography industry.

The corrolory being that if someone has a problem with it, there are more sensible ways to raise that issue than scapegoating the work of a single artist. Hawk's venom arises out of his emotional response to Greenberg's images rather than being a rational response to supposedly abusive practices in an industry in which he's a practitioner.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2006


She's no Sally Mann.
posted by bardic at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2006


I'm not sure why, but this reminds me of the last part of the argument sketch...

Man: I want to complain. ('Spreaders' who is just inside the door hits man on the head with a mallet) Ooh!
Spreaders: No, no, no, hold your head like this, and then go 'waaagh'! Try it again. (he hits him again)
Man: Waaghh!
SpreadersBetter. Better. But 'waaaaaghh'! 'Waaaagh'! Hold your hands here ...
Man:No!
Spreaders:Now. (hits him)
Man: Waagh!
Spreaders: That's it. That's it. Good.
Man: Stop hitting me!
Spreaders: What?
Man: Stop hitting me.
Spreaders:Stop hitting you?
Man:Yes.
Spreaders: What did you come in here for then?
Man: I came here to complain.
Spreaders: Oh I'm sorry, that's next door. It's being hit on the head lessons in here.
Man: What a stupid concept.

posted by SteveInMaine at 11:26 AM on June 28, 2006


If I were a photographer, I would only take pictures of dogs, and only while they were pooping.
posted by snofoam at 11:27 AM on June 28, 2006


Making kids cry on purpose is twisted. I don't care if you're doing it for art.

Whether or not it constitutes child abuse, any parent who would subject their kid to this treatment in order to make a quick buck shows signs of being a crappy parent.

Also, anyone who enjoys this ultra-creepy "art" is not someone who I would want to spend any amount of time anywhere near.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:27 AM on June 28, 2006


This whole debate would be so much easier if the art was actually decent.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:28 AM on June 28, 2006


Where did we get this perspective that life shouldn't leave any marks?

The first thing I thought of was, "oh, some crying kids, who cares?"

Then I thought, "we should eliminate the ethical requirements for psychological experiments." Let's face it, the blue eyed - brown eyed experiment, not to mention the jail experiment, showed us who we really are.

Maybe all this bs about ethics is really just a way to avoid looking at the truth. In this case, it's just some crying kids. Happens at the grocery store all the time.
posted by ewkpates at 11:28 AM on June 28, 2006


I would love to hear Peter Sotos' take on these.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:30 AM on June 28, 2006


in the end EVERYONE here is a crying baby.

Hey man, don't drag me into it. I just posted the picture of the orc.
posted by NationalKato at 11:30 AM on June 28, 2006


From Greenberg's "defense":

Some would just cry for no reason—my daughter did that; she didn't like standing on the apple box I used for a platform because it was a little wobbly. Some just wouldn't cry at all. For all the kids I worked really fast. We would book 12 or so for one day, and see who we could make cry. At the end of the day I was not in a good mood. I don't like making little kids cry.

This perfectly illustrates her lack of respect for children -- including her own daughter, it seems -- even though she knows perfectly well why her daughter started crying, she still says her daugher cried for "no reason."
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:31 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


As a parent, I find the images slightly unsettling, but then that's the point. I assume parents knew full well what was happening and even though I spend my days doing anything I can to keep my daughter happy, taking one photo of her crying doesn't sound like "abuse" to me.

Also, the way Thomas keeps using the phrase "stripping kids of their clothing" in front of any description of her work smacks of someone trying to be just as emotionally manipulative as the photographer. And calling what she does abuse and saying that she's a horrible person are things that can mar her professionally and I'd be careful lobbing half the things Hawk said in his post. I'd say she has every right to defend herself from statements that do sound like libel and slander when Hawk wasn't in the photo studio and seems to be assuming the worst.

Finally, I've met Thomas and I like his photography, but after calling Tim Oreilly an asshole profiteer over the phrase Web 2.0, the prolonged reaction to shady Brooklyn Photo Shops, and photographing buildings and subways in San Francisco and New York becoming organized acts of civil disobedience... I'm kind of getting outrage fatigue from all these and it starts to feel more like mountains out of molehills.
posted by mathowie at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2006


This discussion reminded me of the most disturbing crying photo I've seen

rcade: You may want to check out the work of Jo Spence
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2006


And yet I find these so much less creepy than the now-defunct Angels with Attitude site.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2006


taking one photo of her crying doesn't sound like "abuse" to me

Yes, but you'd wait until life happened and she was already crying, right? You wouldn't, in Greenberg's words, see if you could make her cry?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:38 AM on June 28, 2006


Once I figure out where that K-Mart photographer is who put me on that creepy Santa's lap is, he's sooo going to get it.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:40 AM on June 28, 2006


Man, it is gonna take years of auditing to get all the engrams out of those kids.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:41 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I like the Greenberg stuff I've seen previously. These are good, too.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2006


Eustacescrubb, in my experience, a key part of raising kids is recognizing the ability to discern when your child is truly hurt or upset, compared to the times when they are just making noise to get their way via your guilt or exhaustion.

Tears are not a blank check for respect in a civilized household.

If anything, it's important to teach a 3-4 year old that such behavior is not to be respected, nor will it produce results. A child crying over a wobbly platform is just as likely to actually just be tired or irritable, at which point any little thing they don't like can produce instant tears. Parents just have to know their kids enough to be able to sense what the matter really is, and whether the child needs sympathy or just needs to relax already.
posted by hermitosis at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2006


I would contact the person they most trust and ask them to be co-conspirators with me on an art project. I would find out what really pushes their buttons, and with the help of their trusted person, fabricate that situation, and the video it.

Isn't that the entire premise of Punk'd?

Not that I'm saying Punk'd is art.
posted by lemoncello at 11:45 AM on June 28, 2006


That's some really shiny photography there.
posted by Sukiari at 11:46 AM on June 28, 2006


A child crying over a wobbly platform is just as likely to actually just be tired or irritable...

Yes, tired and irritable at being made to stand on a wobbly platform.

Christ, people.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2006


Wow, that guy is full of himself. My favorite quote:

Although the children are not sexualized, I consider what she is doing child pornography of the worst kind.

So a picture of a shirtless child crying is now much worse than sexualized, hardcore child pornography? Yikes!
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2006


I think there's a lot of over reaction all around. The children's parents were present, this was done in a professional manner (i.e. Child Labor Laws apply), a lolipop was taken away.

Just because the kids appear upset doesn't mean they were abused. Unless you're in the room watching the techniques she uses, your opinion is purely conjecture.

Little kids are used as models and actors all the time - these kids (at least some of them) were professionals hired through agencies. This isn't some weird kind of abuse thing.
posted by MythMaker at 11:55 AM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh for crying out loud who cares.

I can't STAND the "think of the CHILLDREEENNN" whiners who think any tiny piece of negativity towards a child means that the person who expressed it is a child molester and should be shot.

The parents were involved, the chidlren were not tortured, and the art is kind of cool.
posted by agregoli at 11:56 AM on June 28, 2006


Eustacescrubb, in my experience, a key part of raising kids is recognizing the ability to discern when your child is truly hurt or upset, compared to the times when they are just making noise to get their way via your guilt or exhaustion.

hermitosis -- fear not -- I don't give in to my son's attempts to emotionally manipulate me via crocodile tears. Teaching him not to resort to such tactics is part of teaching him how to properly deal with his emotions. Respecting him means teaching him the best way to address his concerns (i.e., with words) and teaching him not to be manipulative. I was trying to keep the "manual on parenting" to a minimum in the post, so I didn't address crocodile tears.

Be that as it may, my main point was and is still that I do not deliberately make him cry. His emotions are not a game or a prop. So:

A child crying over a wobbly platform is just as likely to actually just be tired or irritable, at which point any little thing they don't like can produce instant tears.

Yes, but if I can help it, I try to be aware of when my son is tired or hungry and I don't willingly make things worse by also making him stand on something he doesn't want to do, if it isn't necessary for him to do it. Certainly if he misbehaves, he'll be disciplined, tired/hungry or no, but I will also take his circumstances into ocnsideration when deciding on the discipline. At the same time, I'm not going to deliberately put him in a situation where he'll be caused distress unless I absolutely must, just like I wouldn't deliberately put you in such a situation unless I had to.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2006


If I could make money off my neice and nephew crying I would. They're going to do it anyway, might as well make some cash from the enevitable.

As for it being abuse...tying a kids hands behind his back with a tie and making him kneel on pencils is abuse.

hitting a child with a closed fist or a thin leather boot lace is abuse.

teasing them to make them cry is just teasing.

"Georgy porgy punkin pie, abuse the girls and make them cry"
posted by Megafly at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2006


Photographers are often horrible people. They violate privacy, stalk celebrities, photograph death, dismemberment, and all manner of unspeakable things (staged and unstaged). They often document unfolding tragedies instead of helping the people that are suffering.

Oh, holy crap. Nobody is going to object to this statement? It displays such a shocking ignorance of the societal benefits of photojournalism that I'm just speechless.
posted by spock at 12:02 PM on June 28, 2006


So a picture of a shirtless child crying is now much worse than sexualized, hardcore child pornography?

Yup. He says that she's worse than a child pornographer, but then throws a major hissy fit when she says that she thinks he's probably an insane person with a few personal problems.

After a quick glance over his blog, I'm left with a sneaking suspicion that she's absolutely on the nail there.

Narcissistic personality disorder would be my guess...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2006


Tears are not a blank check for respect in a civilized household.

See, I think you misunderstand me. I respect my son all the time, no matter what mood he's in. I do not give in to bad behavior -- that's a part of respecting someone. Anyone who allows themselves to be manipulated by a person actually lacks respect for that person because they're unwilling to unwilling to put themselves in the uncomforatble position of challenging the manipulation. Enabling isn't respect.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2006


Great shots of the drippy, slimy kids. The "political" titles? Weak.
posted by ColdChef at 12:09 PM on June 28, 2006


Dame: I think the fact that she could stand to be around such screaming kids indicates some sort of total weirdness beyond my comprehension. And taking away lollipops is mean. Yet, somehow, I'm just not that outraged.

I think this sums up my reaction. I know that I threw quite a few screaming fits over situations when I didn't get my way (sometimes for very good reason.) For some kids, pulling out all the stops seems to be the first reaction to anything less that a fully pleasurable and satisfying experience.

I find this weird, slightly mean and disturbing, but then again, I find quite a bit of child photography to be weird, slightly mean and disturbing.

Calling this abuse however? Pardon me, I know people who endured emotional and physical abuse sustained over a period of years as opposed to the few moments required for these photos with a parent waiting to swoop in. To be blunt, people are naturally resilliant and it takes quite a bit of work over an extended period of time to fuck them up. Supposedly, I completely flipped out over an uncle in a Santa suit back before I could remember. There are even photos of that event. The worst part about that event is that the story gets told at least twice in my presence every December.

MythMaker: Little kids are used as models and actors all the time - these kids (at least some of them) were professionals hired through agencies. This isn't some weird kind of abuse thing.

To toss a bone to the people using this as the outrage of the day, from what I can tell, much of that entire genre of art and commercial photography depends on emotional manipulation of the subject, and I think that child modeling can be abusive. I wouldn't want my nieces to pose for Greenberg, but I wouldn't want them posing for Geddes either.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2006


mathowie: Tim Oreilly an asshole profiteer over the phrase Web 2.0,

Well, a bad clock is right some of the time. Don't know about the asshole part. But after the Irish conference thing, Web 2.0 is more and more starting to feel like New Coke.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2006


...though I'm inclined to side with Greenberg, if only because she clearly hasn't done anything to harm the children...

... yes, but she apparently has taken steps to harm the guy who doesn't like what she's doing.

While I think the photos are creepy as hell, I'd defend her right to present them as "art". OTOH, she's clearly an attention whoring hypocrite.

This all ends up looking like a really super-pathetic version of Solanas v. Warhol. As to which is which, takes your picks...
posted by lodurr at 12:27 PM on June 28, 2006


Well, a bad clock is right some of the time.

Apparently not in this instance.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:29 PM on June 28, 2006


Thomas Hawk just made Jill Greenberg a whole lot of money.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:35 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2006


There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book

But there are moral and immoral authors. Creation of art does not give the artist license to harm, or even, as in this case, to cause distress.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2006


Yeah, I was really into Wilde when I was fourteen, too.
posted by dame at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2006


I pinched a kid in Reno, just to watch him cry...

Seriously, kids cry, that's their main purpose in life. I guess I'm a child abuser for teasing my little niece with a bit of sandwich she couldn't eat because she has no teeth. She gave me a grumpy look, which of course means she'll grow up to be anorexic and distrustful of short-haired women.
posted by lychee at 12:42 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


... yes, but she apparently has taken steps to harm the guy who doesn't like what she's doing.

If someone posted a half-blind, 2000+ word screed accusing me of child abuse with the title " Fidel Cashflow is a Sick Man Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse", well, the gloves come fucking off. He bit off more than he could chew, tough shit for him. It is for that exact reason that you don't accuse people of horrible crimes in public unless you have real proof. I don't feel sorry for him in the least.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:42 PM on June 28, 2006


People keep saying that the parents were there and involved so that makes it ok. But that only makes it weirder in my view. When your kid is being photographed at the mall, you stand there and smile at them and praise them. These parents had to stand there and watch their kids get worked into a frenzy and then not respond. I would imagine that after the lollipop got taken away the children would look to their parents first, for reassurance. The parents couldn't reassure them or comfort them until the shoot was over, which I bet increased the distress the kids felt.
posted by Biblio at 12:45 PM on June 28, 2006


Funny that her college roommate posted in here - because I went to high school with her. I've seen her name around for years and always wondered if it was the same Jill Greenberg.

(we weren't in the same year, but I remember her being in the darkroom when I was struggling through intro photography....threading reels in the dark was never my strong suit)

I don't really have an opinion on taking lollipops away from babies to make them cry for a heavily-altered photograph....seems like misplaced outrage to me. I think it's cool that someone makes a living from their art.
posted by pinky at 12:46 PM on June 28, 2006


I could have taken those pictures. When I was a teen, I had a 3-day job playing Mickey Mouse at a mall in Massachusetts. Kids sat on my lap to have a picture taken. While most kids were agog with excitement about meeting Mickey, about every 10th kid screamed in bloody terror at the costume. Usually I could win the kid over, but not always. Some parents were really cruel - they wanted that photo no matter what, and would force a screaming, writhing kid on my lap. This often resulted in the kid peeing in sheer fear. Most kids had a delightful time, but in the course of the 3 days, I saw faces that would make these look tame in comparison.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:46 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Taking away candy from a toddler is fun but you can wait until they're a little older and do this.
posted by Crackerbelly at 12:46 PM on June 28, 2006


Crackerbelly: Linked from your page is this one (not entirely unrelated)
: )

posted by spock at 12:52 PM on June 28, 2006


Oops. Here it is!
posted by spock at 12:55 PM on June 28, 2006


Yes, the parents' being there and involved makes it OK, absent any actual abuse. Our society says that parents have authority over what's good for their children. Not you, and not Hawk. That's not absolute, but the exceptions involve real abuse. If you or Hawk have evidence that any real abuse took place, trot it out, and society will deal with the parents on that basis. Letting a kid cry for the amount of time it takes to open and close a shutter does not indicate an abusive parent. Sometimes letting a child cry is constructive, if it allows the child to learn that tears are not an automatic ticket to what they want.

And what Fidel said.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:56 PM on June 28, 2006


TJH is channelling some right nonsense, there. By that logic, any "criticism" is ugly unless it finds something "beautiful" in "beautiful work." Or something like that.

Sounds poetic, until you try to parse it. Then you realize it's pretty much useless drivel.

Art is simply this: Somebody's attempt to make sense of the world (albeit, sometimes, by pointing out how pervasively and in what ways the world fails to make sense). Art is "good" when the artist is able to communicate that to others -- which is to say, when it's effective. "Beauty" is subjective.

Occasionally, works of art resonate in ways the artist never intended. I submit that what's happening there is not art, but accident; to call it "art" is to degrade the uselfulness of the term, without really enhancing the status or value of the thing being labeled. The Mona Lisa is far more important as a cultural artefact than as a work of art. (Or of craft, for that matter, but that's another rant for another time.)

There's "art" in Greenberg's work, alright, but it's not where she says it is. The "art", I suspect, is really in the expression of her pain at the great question, "Why Am I Not Respected?"

In fact, the whole spat with Hawk starts to look like performance art, as he fails to perceive the quality of her art and she and her husband proceed to howl like displeased toddlers...
posted by lodurr at 1:02 PM on June 28, 2006


Debate over.

How 'bout someone tricks you into believing that someone close to you just died and then snaps a picture of your misery before explaining that everything is actually OK? Still have that 'no harm, no foul' feeling?
posted by tomplus2 at 1:05 PM on June 28, 2006


There's "art" in Greenberg's work, alright, but it's not where she says it is. The "art", I suspect, is really in the expression of her pain at the great question, "Why Am I Not Respected?"

What was that about useless drivel, again?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:06 PM on June 28, 2006


PeterMcDermott: Well, my reading of the apology is a bit different. Granting use of a (pending) service mark to a non-profit still does not change the fact that Web 2.0 is still a service mark that the company intends to protect against other for-profit organizations. Nor does it change the fact that O'Reilly has been riding this particular fad as hard as possible. (Friendliness towards non-profits and open-source just happens to be a well-tested strategy.)

Neither of which I consider to be bad things. After all, we need some definition of "Web 2.0" that is not hopelessly ambiguous, or almost identical to "Online Community" (circa 2000) or CSCW/L (circa '95). But it's pretty hard to argue that O'Reilly's excessive hype and boosterism isn't at least partially grounded in a profit motive.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:07 PM on June 28, 2006


No, tomplus2, the debate isn't over.

The thing about me, versus, say, a 2 year old toddler, is that I (at least I hope) have, like, a matured emotional barometer.

So, for example, when someone tricks me into telling me my grandparents both died in a plane crash, well, I would probably burst into tears, and it would probably have a long lasting psychological impact.

A two year old, however, isn't quite there yet, you dig? They're like cats, but more annoying. They cry to express themselves - to react to all sorts of emotional and physical stimulii that they can't quite process yet. Sometimes it's unreasonable and illogical to us. Sometimes it's because they took a header off of the balcony. Sometimes it's because they want to got Disney World, instead, of, say, school. It runs the gambit. They don't have the emotional sophistication to be forever traumatized by something which is so relatively tame - here's a lollipop, now I'm taking it away. There's no way it's in the least bit harmful.
posted by kbanas at 1:13 PM on June 28, 2006


Bothering people to provoke emotional responses that you find amusing isn't the worst thing in the world, but it is mean and nasty, and demonstrates a lack of respect for others. If you do things like that, it means you're kind of an asshole.

I think that's really what it comes down to. There's more controversy in this case, of course, because there are children involved, but it's not really a case of abuse or child pornography or anything of that sort. It's just that Jill Greenberg, like people who troll on the internet or run reality TV shows, is an asshole.
posted by moss at 1:14 PM on June 28, 2006


What was that about useless drivel, again?

Under my definition, Fidel, it qualifies as art. So it's useful to me. YMMV, obviously. For example, we differ on whether it's appropriate to try to fuck someone over w.r.t. their livelihood for doing you the favor of calling attention to your latest "controversial" project.
posted by lodurr at 1:15 PM on June 28, 2006


How 'bout someone tricks you into believing that someone close to you just died and then snaps a picture of your misery before explaining that everything is actually OK?

It's sort of been done.
posted by GuyZero at 1:15 PM on June 28, 2006


StrasbourgSecaucus is dead-on, witty, and insightful. Greenberg-- and really, everyone involved in this story-- better first get checked by a neurologist.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:21 PM on June 28, 2006


Bothering people to provoke emotional responses that you find amusing isn't the worst thing in the world, but it is mean and nasty, and demonstrates a lack of respect for others.

Yeah, I don't like it when my three-year-old does that to me. That's why I don't always let her get what she wants when she cries.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:24 PM on June 28, 2006


Thomas Hawk jumps the shark. Film at eleven.
posted by ed at 1:34 PM on June 28, 2006


Under my definition, Fidel, it qualifies as art. So it's useful to me

Maybe I misunderstood what you said, but it sounded as if you said Greenberg's art is not an expression of what she finds authentically interesting, but rather a cynical ploy to generate controversy so she'll become more "respected". Which I think is utter nonsense.

For example, we differ on whether it's appropriate to try to fuck someone over w.r.t. their livelihood for doing you the favor of calling attention to your latest "controversial" project.

Oh, "calling attention to [Greenberg's] latest controversial project"! So that's what Thomas Hawk was doing. And here I thought he was publicly accusing someone of systemic child abuse and the mass production of "the worst kind" of child pornography whist talking out his anonymous-ass on his anonymous-blog. It's not as if Greenberg is a professional photographer, and makes a living off her photography.

My mistake.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:37 PM on June 28, 2006


It's her and her husband's response to the whole thing that puts Greenberg in the wrong. Is she committing child abuse? I don't know. Is taunting kids till they cry for the sake of your own career acceptable? No, probably not.

Trying to get a guy fired and siccing your lawyers on him because he dared to question whether your intentionally-controversial art is child abuse is stepping way way over a line. Greenberg is probably going to get a lot of extra exposure from all this and would have done well to release a statement explaining her side of it and then shutting the hell up.
posted by bshort at 1:45 PM on June 28, 2006


Yeah, I was really into Wilde when I was fourteen, too.

Don't sweat it, dame. Plenty of people peak early.
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2006


No, Fidel, no mistake: That's what he was doing.

He was also doing her a favor. Many more people will notice her work, now; and she'll be able to claim that the art achieved its stated goal, which was, I guess, to provoke discussion about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Without his unstable little rant, there's a good likelihood that nobody would have noticed the pictures.

I do in fact think that the point of the exercise was to make people pay attention to her. I don't actually think that's a cynical view; my experience with art and artists has taught me that that's at least as often true as not, for things that get publicly labeled as art.

As an artisan, Greenberg is clearly skilled. As an artist -- as someone who wants to communicate "authentically" -- she needs work. The first step in communicating authentically is being honest with yourself about what you're trying to do, and I just don't see any indication that she has been.

(Note that being honest with yourself does not require that you know what you're trying to do. As long as you know you don't know.)
posted by lodurr at 1:52 PM on June 28, 2006


... oh, and, Fidel -- I'm unclear on why you use that word "anonymous." By "anonymous", do you mean "not famous"? As in, "Thomas Hawk, the proprietor of ThomasHawk.com, is anonymous"?
posted by lodurr at 1:54 PM on June 28, 2006


Trying to get a guy fired and siccing your lawyers on him because he dared to question whether your intentionally-controversial art is child abuse is stepping way way over a line.

Sorry, I guess I must be missing the "question" part of "Jill Greenberg is a Sick Woman Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse." Publicly calling someone a child abuser and calling for their arrest is, in my mind, worse than complaining about that to an employer. If he did it to me, me and my lawyer would own him.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:55 PM on June 28, 2006


... oh, and, Fidel -- I'm unclear on why you use that word "anonymous."

I think he was being sarcastic.
posted by bshort at 1:55 PM on June 28, 2006


If he did it to me, me and my lawyer would own him.

You could certainly try, but thankfully we have the First Amendment, which protects her work as much as it does his words.
posted by bshort at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2006


Trying to get a guy fired and siccing your lawyers on him because he dared to question whether your intentionally-controversial art is child abuse is stepping way way over a line.

As someone said upthread, if a stranger that has never spoken with me or met me publishes several thousand words on how I am a child abuser (it's in the title of the piece) and how my work is worse than child porn, and they do it in a public space that thousands of people will read, a strong reaction might be in order.

I'm not defending trying to get someone fired, that's kind of immature, but calling someone out as a child abuser in public is a very serious offense and I just don't see any hard evidence to support such a claim.
posted by mathowie at 1:57 PM on June 28, 2006



... oh, and, Fidel -- I'm unclear on why you use that word "anonymous." By "anonymous", do you mean "not famous"? As in, "Thomas Hawk, the proprietor of ThomasHawk.com, is anonymous"?


Thomas Hawk is a nome de gure. It's not his real name, and he states that in his Blogger profile . That's why I used the word anonymous.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2006


Bothering people to provoke emotional responses that you find amusing isn't the worst thing in the world, but it is mean and nasty, and demonstrates a lack of respect for others. If you do things like that, it means you're kind of an asshole.

Boy, I bet you're a barrel of laughs on April Fool's day.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2006


You could certainly try, but thankfully we have the First Amendment, which protects her work as much as it does his words.

Oh, and the First Amendment protects neither slander not libel.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:00 PM on June 28, 2006


bshort writes "intentionally-controversial"

I doubt any controversy (other than a possible political controversy re: the titles) was intentional. It's only in the bizzaro universe of the blogosphere that this sort of thing appears even remotely "controversial". Seriously. There are crying kids all the fuck over the place.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:01 PM on June 28, 2006


The first step in communicating authentically is being honest with yourself about what you're trying to do, and I just don't see any indication that she has been.

Fuck, you're a mind reader! Tell me, what am I thinking now?

Without his unstable little rant, there's a good likelihood that nobody would have noticed the pictures.

She's a professional artist who's selling those prints for $4500 a pop. I think she'd have been fine even without some narcissist who's internet-famous trying to stir up shit about her art.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 2:05 PM on June 28, 2006


I never said it was child abuse. I just can't imagine placing my child in a situation where they would be made to cry and I would not be able to comfort them or alleviate their distress because the point of the excercise was to upset them. Of course children can't get everything they want just because they cry. My 6 year old had that reinforced just this afternoon when despite his whining and tears he did not get a treat at the art museum.
When my children are upset, I comfort them. There's a certain threshold they cross during a tantrum where they are out of control of their emotions and in a very scary place. I can certainly calm them down and reassure them without giving in to their demands. That's why the idea of standing there watching a photographer make my child lose control is strange to me.
posted by Biblio at 2:08 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Where's PETA when we need them? Seriously.

I'd think this would be a lot more productive and meaningful if the photos were taken during vacinations or something.

If this doesn't bother you, are you the kind of person that will let someone know if they unknowingly drop something? Or do you just let it go and observer how sad it must be for them?
posted by tomplus2 at 2:27 PM on June 28, 2006


Old: "It's like taking candy from a baby" = "easy"

New: "It's like taking candy from a baby" = "worse than Hitler"
posted by yoink at 2:32 PM on June 28, 2006


Anyone who takes a lollipop away from a child in order to make them cry is okay in my book.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:36 PM GMT on June 28 [+fave] [!]


Hear, hear!
posted by slimepuppy at 2:33 PM on June 28, 2006


A two year old, however, isn't quite there yet, you dig? They're like cats, but more annoying.

Hmm. Should I trust the opinion of a person who thinks children are "like cats but more annoying" in areas of child psychology? No, I think not.

The emotions children feel are REAL. Fuck, what is wrong with some of you people? Does none of you remember being a child, being confused by the adult world, or feeling angry and ashamed and hurt by the seemingly arbitrary and unkind behavior of adults?

My son wakes up from nightmares and whispers "hold me Daddy, keep me safe." I know there are no monsters under his bed, but I don't dismiss his fears, I hold him and help him feel safe. Bbut by the reasoning of many of Greenberg's supporters in this thread, my son's emotionas are irrational and therefore not only does he not need to be comforted, but in fact, I'd be within my rights to stir up those fears and make him experience them for the sake of "art."

What Greenberg had to do to make these photographs isn't "abuse" and Thomas Hawk is stupid to have said so, and should expect her to to fight him over it. But what Greenberg did to make the photos is still fucked up and immoral.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:38 PM on June 28, 2006


Also, what Biblio said.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:40 PM on June 28, 2006


Sure, Hawk has gotten a bit overwrought about this, but what I think makes Greenberg approaching evil is the Cosa Nostra-style C&D she pulled by contacting Hawk's employer. That's seriously stupid, lame, infantile, and probably counterproductive.

Seriously, do these people live in caves, the both of them? Greenberg's a second-rate photog at best. She has a schtick. Bo-ring. And Hawk's fluffed-up moral outrage is tiresome. The siccing-the-employer-on-the-critic thing, though? That's beyod the pale.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:44 PM on June 28, 2006


Those photos are disturbing, but kids cry at the drop of a hat. Once one of my dad's friends came over with her two small children, and the older one took a toy away from the younger one. I thought that was a bit mean so I took the toy away from the older one and gave it to the little girl.

The older boy (I don't know how old he was, pretty small) just stood there and stared at me for a bit. And then he started bawling he was irreconcilable. I felt bad but WTF? He was being a spoiled brat (There were two toys and he wanted them both).

I hardly think that constitutes emotional abuse. I believe that taking a lollypop away from a kid could provoke that reaction. Jill can video the photo shoots to show people how it's done, and whether or not it constitutes 'abuse' It sounds like they're both over-reacting.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:49 PM on June 28, 2006


The photos aren't that interesting to me. But what I'm failing to understand is how the photos are any sort of protest against the Bush administration. Unless they're calling the GOP a bunch of crybabies (wasn't it the Dems that were crying?) or something, it seems nonsensical. Almost like she slapped the anti-Bush label on it to drum up some press.

Finding photos of children that are crying on their own shouldn't be too hard at all.
posted by drstein at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2006


Oh yeah, and the photos are way overproduced. (I don't know if it's all computers, or mostly just due to strange lighting) They look surreal and in a bad way.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2006


‘I’ve suffered for my art ...now it’s your turn.’
posted by Smedleyman at 2:54 PM on June 28, 2006


Just for comparison's sake:

• A beggar pokes her baby with a pin to get it to cry piteously, produce a reaction in the onlooker who then gives her money.

• Ms Greenberg does whatever she has to do to get a baby to cry piteously, produce a reaction in the onlooker who then gives her $4500 for the picture.

Differences: 1) it's the beggar's own baby, and the proceeds will probably help keep the baby alive. 2) Ms Greenberg probably doesn't use a pin.

Does anyone see any other distinctions, or does that cover it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:56 PM on June 28, 2006


The emotions children feel are REAL.

Well, yes and no. That is, we've all seen kids (especially toddlers) in paroxysms of despair about broken crayons or balloons popping or what have you. The outward manifestation of the emotion is such that if you encountered it in an adult you would know for sure that that person would have just undergone a truly life-altering trauma of some sort (a death of a loved one, a horrible diagnosis etc.). But in the toddlers case, we will often enough see that they get distracted merely seconds later (something shiny gets dangled in front of them, someone makes an amusing face, whatever) and the "trauma" is gone as if it never existed.

Was that emotion "real" well--yes, in a sense. But if a parent rushed in after the toddler got distracted and was no longer crying and picked the child up and said "oh, my poor darling, you were so upset, that popping balloon has clearly traumatized you, I must take you to a child therapist so you can work through your emotional difficulties" we'd be more likely to call that parent abusive than considerate.

It seems to me that a lot of people are dreaming up a scenario here in which the photographer did far nastier things than we have any reason to believe she did. We know from her description that she brought in many children for each shoot. Clearly, any child that was resistant to turning on the waterworks was not going to be "tormented" until they broke down. Imagine this scenario: child placed on box, camera set up and ready to go, child given lollipop, lollipop taken away, child bursts into tears, snap snap snap photos are taken in a few seconds, parents rush in and comfort toddler. Toddler forgets what s/he was crying about in approx 15 seconds. Traumatic? Well, no more so that every other one of the hundreds upon hundreds of times that that toddler cries in frustration about some minor inconvenience and is then promptly comforted by his/her parents.

These aren't photos of children in the midst of utterly "out of control" tantrums as some seem to suggest. A child in an "out of control" tantrum doesn't stand still on a box facing a camera. These are kids who briefly turned on the waterworks because--not for the first or last time--something was taken away from them for reasons that they didn't understand.

All that said, there's something about these photos that disturbs me, nonetheless. I don't think that the "child abuse" claim holds any water whatsoever (imagine the endless screaming tantrums that must have been the utterly predictable result of every single Anne Geddes shoot), but I do think there is something a little creepy about the objectification aspect of using kids as props. Of course, the photos are in some sense "about" the fact that they are in various ways "false"--in other words, that the emotion portrayed has no "real" basis (unlike, say, the famous photo of the napalmed Vietnamese girl), anymore than the highly processed image can be construed as an accurate or realistic "representation" of the (non-)event. Still, they make me a little queasy in the same way that hi-larious films of chimps dressed up as humans make me queasy: there is some kind of blindness to the integrity of the subject involved.
posted by yoink at 2:59 PM on June 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


Should I trust the opinion of a person who thinks children are "like cats but more annoying" in areas of child psychology?

Well, kids are pretty damn annoying if only for the over-the-top reactions they induce in their parents; I think we all everyone but eustacesrubb (and maybe a couple others) can agree on that.
posted by jenovus at 3:11 PM on June 28, 2006


Great, not only did I improperly puctuate my comment, I also misspelled a username, which always irks me to see happen. Sorry, eustacescrubb.
posted by jenovus at 3:14 PM on June 28, 2006


Ms Greenberg probably doesn't use a pin.

Oh great. Can we all play that game, or is it reserved for those willing to take the brave and lonely stand that child abuse is bad? For example, would this be fair: George_Spiggot probably doesn't beat his wife while watching Triumph of the Will singing "Deutschland Uber Alles."

Probably.
posted by yoink at 3:22 PM on June 28, 2006


This perfectly illustrates her lack of respect for children -- including her own daughter, it seems -- even though she knows perfectly well why her daughter started crying, she still says her daugher cried for "no reason."

Lack of empathy -- I'm not slandering here, but that's what it is. It isn't hard to imagine that a wobbly platform might be scary for a kid, but also not hard to imagine that a parent might dismiss such a "silly" concern and just tell the kid to be quiet. eustacesrubb has it spot on.

Real example: witnessing my sister give her young daughter a shampoo in the kitchen sink. My niece was struggling and upset when I wandered in, over "nothing". "She doesn't like having her hair washed" says my sister. Well, you only needed to witness the scene for a moment to realize that my niece was being held precariously, nearly upside down at this weird angle where she must have felt totally out of control and unbalanced. Am I saying she was going to get dropped? No. I'm saying she was unnecessarily made to feel in danger. (yeah, the dreaded f-word) Solution: let her support her own weight. Then, huge surprise: the struggling disappears instantly and she's ok.

You parents who seem to be making a concerted effort not to understand your kids' fears and concerns are only making things harder on the lot of you.
posted by dreamsign at 3:27 PM on June 28, 2006


If this doesn't bother you, are you the kind of person that will let someone know if they unknowingly drop something? Or do you just let it go and observer how sad it must be for them?

If this does bother you, are you the kind of person who makes a whole separate dinner for your kid when they don't want to eat what you've already cooked? Because seriously, you're just setting them up for years of failure and heartbreak. Stop spoiling the little bastards!

It's great for society to be conscious of the emotional welfare of children, but getting hysterical over something like this just makes you look like a lunatic. And if anyone publicly called me a child abuser, I'd totally try to fuck them over in any way I could. Yeah, it would be immature, but it would also be deserved.
posted by 912 Greens at 3:31 PM on June 28, 2006


Does this remind anyone else of those old children's ethics lessons?

"Bobby broke one plate on purpose. Cindy broke three plates by accident. Which is worse?"

I take it there are a lot of three-plate people here.
posted by dreamsign at 3:35 PM on June 28, 2006


If photographers really respected human beings, they wouldn't give kids a lollipop to make them happy. What kind of message is that sending? "Here's a sugary confection, have a present for no particular reason?" Why is giving a child a gift for no reason not emotionally damaging? It sets expectations that kids are going to randomly get stuff and that candy is a positive. Nobody questions this part. I want to see the second part of this where they give people at a bar a free beer then slap it out of their hands.
posted by mikeh at 3:40 PM on June 28, 2006


Sentimentalizationofyouthfilter.
posted by everichon at 3:41 PM on June 28, 2006


I'm pretty sure that if this were an experiment, it would not pass a modern research ethics board, regardless of potentially beneficial utilitarian results. Just because children "cry at the drop of a hat" doesn't mean we should purposely provoke a child, because there is an ethical difference between accidental harm, negligent harm and premeditated, purposeful harm. On the other side of the equation, to the child's mind, harm is harm and pain is pain. Furthermore, there is no consent. A lot of adult people get worked up at irrational phobias, I would argue that it is unethical to provoke a person with their irrational phobia, but at least an adult can communicate when it's over, "no harm done," but there is no way to know what harm has been done to a child. We only assume that there is no harm done.

Breaking it down by various ethical systems: So, there's no need to overreact, but I don't see these photographs as particularly defensible.
posted by Skwirl at 3:43 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I take it that most MeFites would be uncomfortable with someone causing children a small amount of pain or discomfort for personal satisfaction, because that would be sadism. Well, the profit motive doesn't cut it, I think, for some MeFites here either, in contrast to motives that might be considered "legitimate" -- and what that list consists of -- health of the child, general safety, or simple convenience -- is something that every parent weighs differently.

Intention matters.

The tendency to put this situation entirely into the frame of "minimal harm" is a bit dicey ethically, no?
posted by dreamsign at 3:55 PM on June 28, 2006


Skwirl, your ethical analysis is interesting, but I think you have a thumb on the scale. That is, you declare it to be simply a "guess" as to what lasting trauma might be inflicted upon children by taking away a lollipop from them. This is simply untrue, though. We know that every single one of these children will have already gone through and is destined to undergo in future countless incidents in which items are given to them and then taken away from them for reasons which they do not understand. Indeed, a good part of most toddlers' days is spent having things pulled out of their hands or lifted up out of their reach for reasons that they do not understand. We also know that this was our experience, too, when we were children (unless we were the emperor of China or something), and we know that if this experience "traumatized" us, it couldn't possibly be the case that any one of these multitudinous incidents can be blamed for that "trauma" more than another.

We therefore, in fact, on a utilitarian basis, have extremely good reason to expect that this single act will have no effect upon the child whatsoever. (I know, many of you are extrapolating to an argument that says "if the parents are willing to do this once, then they obviously would be willing to do this many times": that is both speciously reasoned and irrelevant; if the parents are abusive bastards, they're not going to be made any less so by failing to hire their children for this shoot).

That fact, then, significantly changes the equation for several of your analyses: for example, the "care-based ethics" can weigh the (nonexistent) long term harm to the child against a variety of possible long-term benefits (money to put towards a college fund, for example), and so forth.
posted by yoink at 3:57 PM on June 28, 2006


I love the defense that "this is what they do in commercials." Yeah, way to hold up those high standards. - George_Spiggott

That's not a defence. But it does seem pretty silly to get so extremely worked up about the one instance, when we're all exposed to numerous examples of the same damn thing on a daily baisis. You don't see this guy ranting and raving about all those examples.
posted by raedyn at 4:06 PM on June 28, 2006


(Some of this conversation is really really interesting. I'm enjoying 'listening' to it. Thanks everyone.)
posted by raedyn at 4:11 PM on June 28, 2006


Dope thread.
posted by BeerFilter at 4:21 PM on June 28, 2006


Yoink, I didn't attack you personally. In fact, I didn't attack anyone. I compared this instance of someone making a child cry for money with another instance of someone making a child cry for money. When I said she "probably" doesn't use a pin, it's because I don't know for a fact that she doesn't ever use a pin. If I knew it for a fact I'd have dropped the "probably".

The emotional language is all yours, as is the Nazi comparison. And if you can't make your point without resorting to that, you probably don't have one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:22 PM on June 28, 2006


The emotional language is all yours, as is the Nazi comparison. And if you can't make your point without resorting to that, you probably don't have one.

He was making an absurd comparison to illustrate the simplicity of the logic in your argument. Don't be so sensitive.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:30 PM on June 28, 2006


He made an absurd, irrelevant comparison, to illustrate something not central to the issue.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:33 PM on June 28, 2006


The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) in Britain has tv ads with close ups of small children crying and cowering in fear in a corner and being shouted at, followed by a call to give £2 a month to the association. Now we just need some random crazy person with a blog to report the NSPCC as child abusers.

Besides, the NSPCC would relish the extra notoriety that only a blogger could give them.
posted by funambulist at 4:33 PM on June 28, 2006


I thought the photos were great. So what if they're processed?

I really like this baboon as well, he looks to me like he's thinking "I'd be killing you all right now, but you know what? It'd just be too easy."
posted by The Monkey at 4:39 PM on June 28, 2006


He made an absurd, irrelevant comparison, to illustrate something not central to the issue.

And you made an absurd, irrelevant claim that Jill Greenberg pokes children with pins. Wait, probably pokes children win pins.

Stay away from absurd, spurious claims if they offend you so much.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2006


Great, not only did I improperly puctuate my comment, I also misspelled a username, which always irks me to see happen. Sorry, eustacescrubb.

An apology for misspelling my username but not one for the ad hominem/straw man?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2006


Ad Hominem Strawman would be a great name for a sockpuppet...
posted by mr_roboto at 4:42 PM on June 28, 2006


SweetJesus, you apparently didn't read my comment. Try again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:44 PM on June 28, 2006


raedyn: That's not a defence. But it does seem pretty silly to get so extremely worked up about the one instance, when we're all exposed to numerous examples of the same damn thing on a daily baisis. You don't see this guy ranting and raving about all those examples.

Well, yeah. Once you admit that there is an ethical principle at work here. The next steps are usually to ask:
1: What other cases do we need to consider?
2: What should our response be in regards to this?
3: To what degree have responses to this also been unethical?

To answer those questions:
1: I think it's worthwhile to consider how other commercial photography of young children is done.

2: I think it's reasonable to criticize these images, their manner of production, and to not purchase these images.

3: I think that calling this abuse is unethical because it trivializes the very real phenomenon of long-term child abuse. Ohh, and Mr. Hawk and Ms. Greenberg are both acting unethically towards each other.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:46 PM on June 28, 2006


SweetJesus, the only claim I made is that her business model involves making children cry for money. I made a comparison with another business model that also involves making children cry for money. I said she probably does not use pins. You apparently are not familar with the word "not", which, for your edification, negates a statement rather than asserts it. So you are claiming that I said the opposite of what I actually did say. So under the circumstances you're hardly in a position to call anyone else absurd. And as I said earlier, the "probably" was simply because because I'm not in a position to be certain.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:49 PM on June 28, 2006


I said she probably does not use pins.

Yes, George_Spiggot, and I said that you probably do not beat your wife while watching Triumph of the Will--what are you getting your panties in a bunch about?
posted by yoink at 4:59 PM on June 28, 2006


And just to spell out the problem, George, the very fact that my "probably doesn't" post got you so upset demonstrates precisely what the problem is with your "probably doesn't use a pin" formulation. It is asserting by weak denial. It's a cruddy politicians trick: "It is entirely probable that my worthy opponent does not in fact hate the United States of America, but nevertheless..."

If you find it upsetting to have me say "you're probably not a wife beater" then you have to admit that it was underhand of you to say that this photographer "probably doesn't use a pin."
posted by yoink at 5:05 PM on June 28, 2006


Yoink, term "ad hominem/strawman" used above would appear to apply here. I'd like to say it's "probably" not a way of attacking an argument you can't cope direclty with by finding a side issue of wording and going berserk on it, but the facts in evidence wouldn't support it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:07 PM on June 28, 2006


George, explain to me how your "probably doesn't use a pin" is in any structural way different from my purely illustrative "probably isn't a wife beater"?

And as to whether I have arguments to offer, I've made several lengthy and detailed posts in this thread, if you can't be bothered reading them, that's fine, but I think I've made my argument pretty explicit.
posted by yoink at 5:10 PM on June 28, 2006


Yoink (to adopt your preferred form of address), the pin was involved in the comparison, and germane to the discussion as one known and observed way of inducing children to cry for profit. My wife and my singing habits aren't germane to anything but your personal issues, and I'd rather you didn't fixate on me in that regard.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:13 PM on June 28, 2006


George, the pin was only "involved in the comparison" because you brought it up as an entirely spurious allegation. There had been no allegation that she used a pin, and there is no suggestion at all in her own description of her practice that she would ever consider doing such a thing (do you really think she'd have to bring in [and pay for] multiple child models if she was willing to stick the kids with pins to elicit tears? Really? Do you really think the parents of those kids would allow it? Really?).

You made a spurious allegation against her, and you did it in a way I regarded as underhand and unfair. I offered a parallel case to you (go back and look at my original response to you where I ask "can we all play that game"?--I'm clearly referring to the way in which you have phrased your backhanded accusation). So, no, George, I don't in any way suspect you of actually being a singing, wife-beating, Nazi, nor, I think, did any reader of my post other than you think that I was in fact levelling any kind of ad hominem attack against you. I was pointing out that that form of statement "X probably doesn't do Y" is an underhand way of asserting that "X quite possibly DOES do Y."

And your outraged (and utterly unreflexive) response beautifully proved my point.

So, I don't think you're a Nazi, but it's pretty clear that you're happy to imply horrible (and utterly unsubstantiated) practices on the part of innocent people, but very quick to get on your high horse if anyone does the same thing--even in jest--about you.
posted by yoink at 5:23 PM on June 28, 2006


Oh, and taking your advice,Yoink, I've gone over your earlier comments. Apparently it wasn't even your first instance with the Deutchland bit; you got in a Hitler reference earlier on, I missed that. You're quite a one for grasping at the strawmen, aren't you?

On preview, I have already explained twice that I made no allegation; rather, I rendered the comparison more favorable to Ms Greenberg by making it clear that while the comparison was to someone using a pin, there was no reason to believe she used one. I used "probably" (for the third time now) because it's fallacious to assume as fact something not actually in evidence. You've battened on that "probably" because, again, you're grasping at straws; the overall comparison offended you but you had nothin', so you battened on a rhetorical vulnerability you detected in an ancillary clause, because you could; and you larded it with your favorite emotionally charged symbol of villainy to complete the deflection from the central point of my comment. Bravo.

Now this sort of thing is a bore to onlookers, and a huge bore to me, so get your parting shot in (compare me to Eichmann, that'd be clever) because I'm done.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:33 PM on June 28, 2006


George_Spiggot,

FWIW, I didn't read your pin remark as an accusation but as an analogy as you intended.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:33 PM on June 28, 2006


eustace -- it wasn't actually meant to be an analogy, but a direct comparison with an actual practice. Unfortunately, sticking babies with pins to make them cry is a time-honored practice among beggars in the poorest parts of the world, I've read of it in travel memoirs going back at least to the middle of the 19th century. (Although who knows, it might be one of those perpetuated lies like hippies spitting on returning 'nam veterans. I've never directly witnessed it myself.)

Perhaps the reason for the confusion is that some people thought I'd gratuitously made up the pin bit as a way of making Ms Greenberg look worse, but I wouldn't make up a thing like that. I'll admit I would have been better without the "probably", if only to remove a rhetorical vulnerability and an easy straw man target, but I used it for precisely the reasons I've said, not in the "there's no reason to believe my opponent is a sheepshagger" political trick sense as has been repeatedly (and I suspect opportunistically) asserted here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:51 PM on June 28, 2006


Ditto pretty much everything eustacescrubb said, especially:

"What Greenberg had to do to make these photographs isn't "abuse" and Thomas Hawk is stupid to have said so, and should expect her to to fight him over it. But what Greenberg did to make the photos is still fucked up and immoral."

I find her art distasteful. That doesn't make it bad art. But I find her actions as a human being to be inexcusable. Fuck art. If you're making kids cry, you're a bad person and deserve a punch in the face. Maybe two.
posted by geekhorde at 6:02 PM on June 28, 2006


And say what you want. The first thing I thought when I saw these pictures was 'she probably uses a pin to get these kids to cry.'

There. I said it. Is it wrong to suspect the worst of someone who makes children cry for money? I don't give a crap. She makes children cry for money.
posted by geekhorde at 6:08 PM on June 28, 2006


I would use a pin. It just seems like it would be faster.

By the way, you know who else makes children cry for money? Disney. Or haven't you seen Bambi?
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:13 PM on June 28, 2006


If only their mothers had aborted them, this would've never happened to them.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:24 PM on June 28, 2006


Where's PETA when we need them? Seriously.

True that; if Greenberg was taking photos of animals that were provoked into giving similar reactions as these children...

Respect for Mr. Shnookums and Whiskers > Respect for some snot nose brats, I guess.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:06 PM on June 28, 2006


My favorite part is when Thomas Hawk writes a blog post that accuses Jill Greenberg of child abuse in its title and then goes on to get huffy when he is accused of libel.

D00D. Look it up.

Libel. (Defnition courtesy Mirriam Webster) : 2 a : a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression b (1) : a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2) : defamation of a person by written or representational means (3) : the publication of blasphemous, treasonable, seditious, or obscene writings or pictures (4) : the act, tort, or crime of publishing such a libel

Surprise! She said you commited libel because that's exactly what you did! You published a statement without just cause (saying she "abused" children when he has no way of knowing how the photos were taken) which was intended to expose the artist to public contempt!

BRILLIANT!

(Also: I like the monkeys better. Just do.)

(Also also: I make kids cry all day long. I teach preschool. Sometimes, the most bizarre things will set someone off. You ask a kid to sit in a chair? Crying. You tell a kid he has to put on sunscreen? Crying. On a rainy day, you explain that no one is wearing sunscreen? Crying. Most parents don't threaten me with child abuse though. Maybe because I neither provide nor take away lollipops.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:07 PM on June 28, 2006


Ah, but grapefruitmoon, you probably don't intend for them to cry. If you did anything at your preschool whose only purpose was to incite crying, and any other adult found out about it, you'd be out of a job, and probably sued, no?
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:14 PM on June 28, 2006


If the babies were drug addicts, grapfruitmoon would probably make a fortune.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:24 PM on June 28, 2006


This is art?

The art world really has sunk into meaninglessness.

The poor kid with the string of drool coming out of her mouth...well that said it all. Anyone care about how this young lady might feel at the age of 16 to know a picture of her at her worst as a child was made so public. These kids also didnt choose this.

Can anyone tell me what kind of person would buy a picture of a kid bawling their heart out, to put over the living room couch?

There is evil in this. This is just shock art--but on a more emotional level rather then gross-out level. The art world has reached a nihilistic low.

When I was a young artist I used to think if I made my art darker and more evil, Id have an easier time getting into galleries. I don't think I was just imagining that.

I still remember the art show in 1991 where the jurors choose a shelf with jars of different colored urine [yes it smelled too] to display as art.
posted by Budge at 7:26 PM on June 28, 2006


Quote without comment:

"That's pornography"

(by someone who stands in loco parentis who just happened to walk through the room with no information except the images on the screen)
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2006


Grapefruitmoon, perhaps you should look beyond Webster to a legal dictionary before you are so sure that what's happened here is "libel."

Hell, you'd have heard worse twice an hour on the old Rush Limbaugh show.

There's a crucual distinction you'er missing between what Hawk's doing and actionable libel: That Hawk isn't making anything up. He's stating some facts, and he's stating his opinions about them. That's not typically actionable in an American court.

Which most of us regard as a good thing.
posted by lodurr at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2006


eustacescrubb: Probably not sued, unless what was done to incite crying was also illegal. And probably not even fired unless a child was hurt. Would I get ripped to shreds by the parent and/or my boss? Oh yeah. The sad thing is that childcare is so desperately understaffed that if you can pass a background check and are willing to work for $7.50/hr, you won't get fired unless you're leaving babies in the sink or something. There are some people I have seen working with children who absolutely shouldn't, but no one is getting hurt and they're still employed. It's a sorry state of affairs.

I am a very a good teacher and I do not do anything solely for the purpose of making kids cry. Do I do things knowing that children will be upset? Yes, but they're four years old and need to learn that the world has certain rules, like eating with your feet is generally frowned upon.

Oddly enough, if I set up Jill Greenberg's studio conditions in my classroom, what I would be fired for would not be making children cry, but taking photographs of them. Photography for any purpose other than classroom use is strictly forbidden.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:38 PM on June 28, 2006


lodurr: I didn't mean to imply that he was legally responsible for anything, but merely he should acquaint himself with the definition of the word before he got indignant about the mere accusation.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:39 PM on June 28, 2006


Do I do things knowing that children will be upset? Yes, but they're four years old and need to learn that the world has certain rules, like eating with your feet is generally frowned upon.

Yes, yes, see my comments above about that -- we're in agreement, I think, but your earlier comment made it seem as though you thought that what you do and what Greenberg did are comparable, when they are in fact worlds apart.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:46 PM on June 28, 2006


eustacescrubb: Perhaps not worlds apart, but there is a distinct separation. My opinion is that what Greenberg did for art was cheap. I don't think it caused any lasting damage to the children, but as someone who spends a lot of time with and values children a great deal, I just hope they got to keep that lollipop.

(On an artistic level, I don't like the photographs much, mostly due to the over-processed nature. I couldn't tell if they were paintings - which would have been more interesting to me - or over-processed photos. I would like these photos a lot more if they were more "documentary" - like if she had gone home with a kid and waited for him to cry on his own and THEN gotten out the camera, you still could use the same clever titles, but it wouldn't have that creepy "And why is he crying?" vibe to it. This has nothing to do with your comment, but there it is. I guess to me a painting could have been a crying child imposed on a still background instead of a crying child set up in a studio, which is just... yeah, in my opinion, cheap.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:03 PM on June 28, 2006


i'm still trying to figure out what those pictures have to do with iraq or afghanistan ... seems to me that if she wanted to make a real statement about that, she could have flown to one of those countries and taken pictures of children who've been hurt or killed in the war
posted by pyramid termite at 9:04 PM on June 28, 2006


If I ran Durex, I'd snap up the rights to every single one of those photos in no time flat.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:09 PM on June 28, 2006


Yeah, you know, getting paid to make children cry only cheapens it. It's more authentic to make children cry without financial motivation.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:09 PM on June 28, 2006


An asshole fighting an asshole.

She makes kids cry on purpose. When I was a kid we called that "being an asshole".
He said that these photos of kids crying were "child pornography of the worst kind", that is, worse than kids being fucked by German Shepherds. Calling someone a child pornographer of the worst kind for making a kid cry and taking a picture is "being an asshole".
posted by Bugbread at 11:14 PM on June 28, 2006


Whether or not it is in this case, sometimes making a kid cry on purpose is artful.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:41 PM on June 28, 2006


He actually meant to say "pomography", short for "postmodern photography", but the strain was too much and he pulled a ligature.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:55 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Awesome pun George.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:46 AM on June 29, 2006


Making a child smile and laugh for a photograph with an overdose of attention and faux friendliness is acceptable, it seems. If the child cries when the photoshoot is over, realising that they are not the photographers new best friend, its not on film.

Reminds me of the damage done to Malcom McDowell when Kubrick dropped him after they finished filming A Clockwork Orange.
posted by asok at 2:48 AM on June 29, 2006


The more I think about it, the more her stated goal makes sense to me.

If the children were photographed while they were getting shots, it would be for a good stated purpose. But to take candy away to make them cry? It seems about as pointless as the Iraq war - causing pain and suffering to no good end.

I don't know if that's exactly what she was going for, but it works for me.
posted by agregoli at 7:00 AM on June 29, 2006


... so, could we argue that one might view serial murder as "art", if it's done with the aim of illustrating the pointlessness of the Iraq war?

Not really a frivolous question; I would argue that you could, depending on the intent of the killer / "artist". But then, I don't privilege art per se. An argument could be made on the same grounds for the Final Solution as a massive act of collaborative performance art, and I'm not sure I could counter it. With[out] apologies to Wilde, the act of art-making really has nothing at all to do with BEAUTY (I'll go so far as to say that he was at best self-deluded if he really thought that it did).

Put another way: To say that this is art is not to say anything at all about its moral valuation.
posted by lodurr at 7:46 AM on June 29, 2006


Tempest in a teacup.

If I didn't know better, I'd say this was a controversy manufactured to encourage attention to the artwork itself. Surely, the person responding with impotent outrage over the perceived "abuse" can't be serious?

We live in a world where real torture, real pain, real anguish, occur on a horrifyingly regular basis, to the point where the Supreme Court may have opened the President to war crime charges because we've been torturing folks in the name of freedom. Then we get this chucklehead, who thinks taking candy away from a child, briefly, in front of their consenting parents, for the purposes of capturing emotive states uncluttered by complication is "abuse?"

I certainly hope this isn't serious, because the incredible detachment from reality present in such an argument is frightening to consider.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:02 AM on June 29, 2006


if making your baby cry is abuse then I am so screwed.

I'm a dad of a kid the same age as these and I think that the photos are pretty great. You don't think that the realities of today hinted at in the captions would make these kids cry?
posted by n9 at 9:21 AM on June 29, 2006


Those photos are beautiful. The toddlers are iconic. They're "babies". Archetypes and representations. Why are ads, TV and the movies the only medium’ allowed to use archetypes these days? I’m sure there’s going to be a backlash from the GOP and all sorts of crap about family values is going to be spouted forth, but when it comes down to it, it’s simply because these photos have struck a nerve. If the definition of good art is that it causes debate onthe essence of the human condition, the photos are wildly successful. They evoke a helpless visceral response that parallels the helpless, disarticulate nature of toddlers. The work is a mirror and a perfect metaphor for the zeitgeist of this ass backwards lost time in the good ole US of A. (Talk about a nanny state...the powers that be in DC, in the media, in religion and from every wing of the culture have infantilized us. Frankly I'm sick of it. Anyone else want to reclaim their rights as adults?)

In regards to the accusations of "child abuse". (As the kids like to say these days...): Nigga please. Mr. Hawk's motivation for saying that is deeply suspect from the get go. You can go to any playground in the country and see kids crying. That's what kids do, they cry (like "the wind blows" someone pointed out nicely up thread). And they cry because being a little kid is hard (remember?) and it's one of their primary forms of communication.

The country, much like the kids, needs to learn how to deal with an imperfect world (Columbine is what happens when kids don't learn how to articulate or deal with their inner pain because "they've always had everything they wanted so what the F*ck do they have to be upset about"? Iraq and the attendant Bush MINDFUCK, is what happens when a country doesn't learn how to do the same thing, but on a horrific scale. Consumerism and materialism is the true American religion, it how were told to express ourselves and most telling on that front, It's how we were told to cope with the horror of 911 ("Go out and shop" said the Mayor and the governor and the President).

(Anyhow more full disclosure, I knew Jill for a few years when she was in NYC in the 90's. She's neither sick, nor crazy. She's simply talented at using commercial photography to express herself.)
posted by Skygazer at 9:29 AM on June 29, 2006


Interesting that almost all of Greenberg's defenders end or begin thier posts with disclosures that they knew her at some point. And, Skygazer, you responded to Hawk's "abuse" charges, but few here agree that it constitutes abuse. Many of us think what she has done is immoral, however, and some of us also think that the whole advertising industry's use of children is also immoral.

Anyone else want to reclaim their rights as adults?

First, act like one, and respect other human beings, including toddlers.

She's neither sick, nor crazy.

Pardon me if think that someone who thinks these photos are "beautiful" is probably a poor judge of who is and isn't healthy...
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:37 PM on June 29, 2006


Yeh, when people start talking about "iconic" images in reference to photographs, I know they're in a different place from me.

The bulk of people, as far as I've ever been able to see, just go along when they think they're expected to in order to avoid being perceived as dullards. So when someone talks about the 'value' of some piece of art, and starts spinning a rationale, they go along with that, too, instead of stating (as they ought to) that it doesn't mean that to them. Period.

Which would implicitly mean two things:
  1. The experience of art is subjective -- there is no universal art. (That has some implications for what it means to call something "iconic.")
  2. The experience of someone who does not see the "icons" is not less valid than that of someone who does.
You're already there; you're part of the group this message is targeted at. I'm not; to me, it looks silly and high-concept. It looks divorced from human reality. It looks somewhat less profound and interesting than something I'd look for from the good folks at Chickenhead.

BTW, I think "iconic" is an interesting choice of terms, especially when you think about the etymology of the term. I'm not accusing you of saying that the babies stand in for Orthodox saints (though that might be an interesting treatment, now that I think of it...); I do think that it speaks to the kind of emotional relationship that people have with the children's faces. Using crying babies is kind of a cheap trick in a way that I haven't seen directly addressed in-thread (maybe I missed it), in that babies are "iconic" in the sense of evoking an instinctual response from a normal adult human. (There's a reason those big-eyed velvet hobos / children / kittens / dogs / hobos-roasting-children look the way they do....) It's a cheap trick on the order of using a naked chick to sell beer, or making the side profile of a car look like the curves of a voluptuous woman.

If those babies mean that to you, great, have at it. But if we have to have it explained to us -- and most of us did -- then there's a problem, and we're probably not looking at "good art." In my humble opinion, of course.
posted by lodurr at 12:54 PM on June 29, 2006


George_Spiggot, I had to leave abruptly yesterday. I doubt you're still following this thread, but just in case I thought I'd reply to your last post.

It seems to me that you still don't understand what it was that I was objecting to, so I'll have just one last go at making it clear, and then I'm gone.

You claim that beggars really do use pins to make their babies cry, and on that basis claim that it was quite fair of you, in comparing Greenberg to these beggars, to say that she "probably doesn't use a pin."

This simply misses the point. I'm quite prepared to believe that there are beggars who stick children with pins to make them cry. Had you offered that comparison and said "what Ms. Greenberg does is morally equivalent except that she doesn't use a pin" you would have been making a perfectly fair argument. A rather silly argument, but a perfectly fair one.

Instead, you went the sleazy, underhand route of saying she "probably doesn't use a pin." The only purpose of that "probably doesn't" formulation is to raise a question in the reader's mind: "hey, who knows what this crazy bitch does to these kids, maybe she sticks them with pins, maybe she murders puppies in front of them, who can possibly tell?" You threw out a completely unwarranted and entirely speculative hypothesis that she POSSIBLY resorts to physical violence against these children by asserting that the use of pins was only "probably" to be ruled out of the question.

I, then, tried to demonstrate to you in a humorous way (by using the internet's gold standard of hyperbolic accusation--i.e. Nazism) that this was the effect of the "probably doesn't" form. You, by reacting with outrage at being on the receiving end of exactly the same form of insinuation you had just dished out, proved my point while being (oh irony) incapable of grasping it.
posted by yoink at 1:06 PM on June 29, 2006


The only purpose of that "probably doesn't" formulation is to raise a question in the reader's mind...

That's what it does for you, yoink. It doesn't follow that it is in fact the only purpose. I know that I read it as a simple qualifier. Does that mean I didn't understand it correctly?
posted by lodurr at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2006


I do not know Greenberg from a hole in the ground, and I do not like those photos. Calling her a child molester "of the worst kind" and saying she should be arrested, however, is beyond stupid. Hawk is out of line, and owes her an apology, at the least.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2006


That's what it does for you, yoink.

So then, lodurr, you think George_Spiggot wildly overreacted at being told he was "probably not a Nazi"? Or you think that there's some kind of secret code that allows us to tell that some "probably nots" just mean "not" while others mean "possibly is"?

I suspect you see nothing wrong with George's formulation because you think Greenberg is a bad person, and therefore don't think she deserves the benefit of any doubt. If, on the other hand, someone used exactly the same formulation against you or against someone you respected, you'd be pissed off. That is precisely what makes this a shabby politician's trick. It allows plausible deniability (see e.g. George's little rant about "You apparently are not familar with the word "not"" above--which somehow doesn't apply to my example featuring what he probably doesn't do) while effectively denigrating your opponent. If George had meant to say that what Greenberg does is *morally* equivalent to what the beggars do while being *factually* dissimilar he would have said "Ms. Greenberg doesn't use a pin" instead of writing, as he did, "Ms. Greenberg probably doesn't use a pin."

Would you care to have a stab at telling us what possible function the word "probably" serves in that sentence OTHER than raising the possibility that she does, in fact, use a pin?
posted by yoink at 1:46 PM on June 29, 2006


Ye gods, are you still at it? Why do you hate babies so much?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:58 PM on June 29, 2006


Or you think that there's some kind of secret code that allows us to tell that some "probably nots" just mean "not" while others mean "possibly is"?

Secret code? No. Just experience interacting with others and using the English language in conversation. Or predisposition based on personality type. In this case, I'm inclined to lean toward the latter as the better fit for explaining this misunderstanding. Because it seems clear to some of us that "not meant not" in this case, and it seems clear to you that "not meant 'is'". (Which begs the question: Does 'no' still mean 'no'?)

You're inclined to think that I think Greenberg is a "bad person" because of... well, hell, I don't know why. The same reason you think George_S was being pejorative, I suppose. Honestly, you seem a little sensitive, to me; that, obviously, is just how I see it, much as I don't see Greenberg's work as being particularly fascinating or interesting. (The discussion about it is far more interesting than the actual work, and the discussion has only hapened because Hawk got all causehead on her.)

For what it's worth, I don't really think about Jill Greenberg in "good person" or "bad person" terms. I do know that she's not someone I'd want put into a position of making moral decisions on a daily basis -- I definitely don't want to see her employed as a cop, a judge, or a social worker. Or a soldier or CIA geek, for that matter. Too likely to rationalize her way into a justification for ethical lapses.

For what it's worth, I think that systematically making thirty-odd babies cry for the sake of your art betrays a bit of narcissism, at least, not to mention a certain lack of that species of imagination commonly known as "empathy." Was it "torture"? Was it "child abuse"? No, not really; it's more on a par with sacrificing chickens to the gods so they'll send you inspiration. See, the gods typically don't like sacrifices that are too painless...
posted by lodurr at 1:59 PM on June 29, 2006


Ye gods, are you still at it? Why do you hate babies so much?


I can't tell if that's serious or joking but either way it's hysterical!
posted by agregoli at 2:02 PM on June 29, 2006


Was it "torture"? Was it "child abuse"? No, not really; it's more on a par with sacrificing chickens to the gods so they'll send you inspiration.

Taking a lollipop from a toddler to take a photo is now the equivalent of murdering an animal for the Lord.

You're really slick with these analogies, aren't you?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 2:24 PM on June 29, 2006


Ah, George has his yoink and I have my Fidel.

So, what is it that you really want, Fidel? Hm? Lessons in parsing idiomatic english? Should I explain to you what "more on a par with" means? Or should I tell you why I think there's a fruitful analogy to be drawn between sacrificing small animals for the sake of religious ritual and initiating pain in others for the sake of art?

And why does it matter so much to you what I think about either?
posted by lodurr at 2:29 PM on June 29, 2006


You're inclined to think that I think Greenberg is a "bad person" because of... well, hell, I don't know why.

lodurr: she's clearly an attention whoring hypocrite.

lodurr: ... so, could we argue that one might view serial murder as "art", if it's done with the aim of illustrating the pointlessness of the Iraq war?

lodurr: [Greenberg shouldn't be in a position of responsibility because she would be] Too likely to rationalize her way into a justification for ethical lapses.

Yeah, lodurr, I must have pulled that right out of my ass. Plus, I notice that you don't try to parse the meaning of "probably" in George_Spiggot's original sentence. It's pretty hard to find some way of describing it's meaning that doesn't mean "possibly is" isn't it? But I like the fact that you reach for that reassuring "not." "Dude, he said not, get over it." Yes, and I said he was probably not a Nazi, but that doesn't stop him thinking I suggested he was a Nazi, does it?
posted by yoink at 2:46 PM on June 29, 2006


Ye gods, are you still at it? Why do you hate babies so much?

What, you give me the lollipop of promising me the last word and then viciously take it away from me?

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by yoink at 2:50 PM on June 29, 2006


So, what is it that you really want, Fidel?

For you to stop making blatantly stupid comparisons for the sake of continuing your argument.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 4:14 PM on June 29, 2006


OK, Fidel, explain what's stupid about them.

Wait, then you'd have to actually think about them...
posted by lodurr at 5:15 PM on June 29, 2006


Yoink: Maybe this is a hard concept for you to understand, but none of those things you cite include calling Greenberg a "bad person." I'm describing her, as I see her, based on her work and how she's reacted to Hawk; I'm not judging her worth.

I am puzzled, though, by what you think you're demonstrating with my "serial murder as art" quote. No, wait, I'm not puzzled -- you're the one who thought "not" meant "is"...

As for "probably", Yoink: I think it means "probably."
posted by lodurr at 5:20 PM on June 29, 2006


O.K. lodurr, at this point you're just being deliberately obtuse. Clearly when you call someone "an attention whoring hypocrite" it is reasoanble for an outside observer to draw the conclusion that you do not think highly of that person.

As for my supposedly not being able to make a distinction between "not" and "is"--well, if you genuinely can't understand that "probably not" is not the same as "not" there's not much point in my trying to make anything any clearer for you, is there?

I notice, though, the way you continue to weasel away from parsing "probably doesn't use a pin" and "probably doesn't beat his wife" differently.
posted by yoink at 5:44 PM on June 29, 2006


I notice, though, the way you continue to weasel away from parsing "probably doesn't use a pin" and "probably doesn't beat his wife" differently.

[face-palm/]

Jeebus, yoink. At least get the fucking punchline right. It's not "probably doesn't beat his wife"; it's "when did you stop beating your wife."

But as you just had to go and leech all the fucking fun out of it. As you've stated it, it's just a straightforward non-idiomatic statement: "He probably doesn't beat his wife." Yeah, he probably doesn't. And I really doubt George would have a problem with anyone saying that about him, though of course only he could tell you for sure. Me, I'm not married; but you should just feel free to tell anyone you like that I probably don't beat my fiance. Or, for that matter, that I probably don't stick babies with pins. (Though if one starts to cry when I'm holding it, my mother is wont to accuse me of pinching it. Should I take offense at that?)

Because, hey, guess what: You don't know. So "probably" fits pretty well, doncha think? (Of course you don't.)

As for what a reasonable person would think about my opinion of Jill Greenberg: You are mistaking my opinion of her actions for my opnion of her. I don't know her; I know what she's done. I think the things she's done display attention whoreishness, yes, and I think she's probably a bit of a narcissist. I know a lot of narcissisitic attention whores, and I'm quite fond of some of them. So I'm sure all of Jill's friends who've posted in this thread feel perfectly justified in their defense of her. But I also feel perfectly justified in my critique of her artistic rationale. After all, she did ask for it by putting the stuff out there. If she hasn't got a thick enough skin to stand it -- well, she probably shouldn't be in the art world.
posted by lodurr at 6:11 PM on June 29, 2006


yoink : "So then, lodurr, you think George_Spiggot wildly overreacted at being told he was 'probably not a Nazi'?"

Well, personally, I read the exchange the exact opposite way that you do. That is, I think it's reasonable to say that she probably didn't stick the kid with a pin, because I certainly doubt that she did, but I can't say for sure that she didn't. In the same way, I think it's reasonable to say that George_Spiggot probably doesn't beat his wife while watching Triumph of the Will singing "Deutschland Uber Alles" because I seriously doubt that he does, but I don't know for sure.

So you think that the problem is that he's slyly accusing her of poking kids with pins, and that he's correct in getting angry at the Hitler comment. I think he's wrong for getting angry at the Hitler comment.

yoink : "Would you care to have a stab at telling us what possible function the word 'probably' serves in that sentence OTHER than raising the possibility that she does, in fact, use a pin?"

Lodurr answers well:

lodurr : "Because, hey, guess what: You don't know. So 'probably' fits pretty well"
posted by Bugbread at 10:52 PM on June 29, 2006


It's often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting the outcome to be different. Yoinks, you've said the same thing with only trivially different wording countless times now, as if you're thinking, "this time when I say it, they'll have to agree with me!" Well, nothing short of secret CIA reprogramming techniques are going to get me to say I meant something that I didn't. You're perfectly free to say it over and over again, but frankly, it's just pathetic. You need what you're claiming to be true. That makes one of us. Your relentless, desperate hunger for me to have meant a certain thing by "probably" is frankly unhinged.

lodurr, when you get tired of walking back and forth in Yoinks' rut with him, give me a shout and I'll lower a ladder for you to climb out and we can go and have a beer.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:57 PM on June 29, 2006


Sadly, I can't handle much of the suds anymore (too much sugar), but the offer is warmly appreciated -- and I hereby elect to take it as a hint from the Fates that I should be getting on with my non-virtual life.
posted by lodurr at 3:34 AM on June 30, 2006


eustacescrubb: Pardon me if think that someone who thinks these photos are "beautiful" is probably a poor judge of who is and isn't healthy...

Well the fact that you can be so quick to judge my character speaks volumes about you, bub, so 'll just bow out now and let you go at it as you're doing a better job of unraveling your own beliefs than I ever could.
posted by Skygazer at 7:48 AM on June 30, 2006


MeFi doesn't do coversations about kids very well.
posted by raedyn at 8:11 AM on June 30, 2006


No one seems to. It annoys me.
posted by agregoli at 8:56 AM on June 30, 2006


I'm a mom by choice, and iirc agregoli, you're a non-mom* by choice. From all my past experience with you, I do think we could talk about kids from our different points of view respectfully and without judgement or telling each other that we suck or are stupid or other derogatory or hysterical things. Why are we in the minority? It annoys me too.

*(sorry I couldn't think of a better term that wasn't loaded)
posted by raedyn at 10:26 AM on June 30, 2006


(if you were worried about loaded terms, I'm dying to know what else you thought of besides "non-mom".)

Cross-post mania: From the Disneyworld-death thread, a link to some fascinating stuff: Hooked-rug depictions of locations at Disneyworld that are also the sites of accidental deaths. (Not to mention a hooked rug portrait of an insurance executive.) Now that's some good art.
posted by lodurr at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2006


lodurr - what's the opposite of parent?

If I understand your mini-comment correctly you're suggesting that "non-mom" is loaded. I'd agree that it's loaded if that how one defined adults in general (mom/non-mom). But I certainly don't see it as a defining characteristic of an adult, rather just other data point. However, in that particular sentence it was the difference in that aspect of each of us that I was wanting to refer to. Can you think of a better suggestion for how to describe people that choose not to have kids that isn't a loaded term? I would be pleased to use a better term if your brain is working better than mine today!

posted by raedyn at 10:46 AM on June 30, 2006


Jeebus, yoink. At least get the fucking punchline right. It's not "probably doesn't beat his wife"; it's "when did you stop beating your wife."

Jeebus lodurr, don't barge into an argument when you don't know what's fucking at stake! George_Spiggot made his sneer at Greenberg in the "she probably doesn't" form, so I adapted the old "have you stopped beating your wife" joke into PRECISELY THE SAME FORM. That was my VERY FIRST response to George_Spiggot. George_Spiggot had a tantrum about how I had personally attacked him. I had "personally attacked him" by using EXACTLY THE SAME FORMULA he had used about Greenberg.

Sheesh.

So, this leaves us still at the same point. You're avoiding actually addressing the question I put to you. George_Spiggot continues to think he's perfectly justified in being outraged, outraged I tell you!, that I could dare to say he "probably doesn't do bad-thing-X" but that saying Greenberg "probably doesn't do bad-thing-X" is just fine because "Dude, don't you know what not means, hurr hurr hurr." Bugbread, has weighed in with the odd, but at least consistent, view that George-Spiggot didn't insult Greenberg, but that he was quite unjustified to take any insult at the "probably doesn't beat his wife" formulation. That's nice and all, but I think George_Spiggot's outraged response to my original statement amply proves that he and I do both read the formulation as insulting, and therefore amply proves that he meant it in an insulting way.
posted by yoink at 11:13 AM on June 30, 2006


Yoink, nobody's avoiding the question. The question is stupid, and can't be sensibly answered in a manner that will please you.

Get the stick out of your butt and go get some fresh air.
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2006


The question is stupid, and can't be sensibly answered in a manner that will please you.

lodurr, this is just evasion, and you know it.

1/ "Greenberg probably doesn't use a pin"

2/ "George_Spiggot probably doesn't beat his wife"

How is the phrase "probably doesn't" in sentence one radically different in its meaning and implications from sentence two?

Before declaring that the question is "stupid" and "can't be sensibly answered in a manner that will please [me]" why don't you make one actual attempt to answer the question?

Bugbread answered it in a way that pleased me perfectly well: he said there is no difference whatsover, and that in neither case is there any implied insult. The only problem with that answer is that it leaves poor George_Spiggot look like he was whining about nothing. You haven't declared whether or not you think George_Spiggot had just cause to be insulted (part of your general strategy of not actually addressing the issue), so bugbread's response is open to you, and would at least save you from hypocrisy (the position George has had to adopt).

Get the stick out of your butt and go get some fresh air.

Unless you're typing this on your jogger's-computer I'm afraid we're neither of us winning the Got A Life competition.
posted by yoink at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2006


Ah, the ever-evolving fantasy: I implied that she used a pin, I had a tantrum; drifting ever further from any semblance of reality.

Let me explain what yoinks is doing: he's playing a red herring: trying endlessly to make the debate about exonerating Ms Greenberg from using a pin, because if he can keep the discussion focused on that, he can derail discussion about what she actually does do, But in order to do that he has to pretend to beleive she was accused of it.

Yoink, you should be thanking me for giving you this litttle red herring to play with, which enabled this obsessive attempt to re-frame the discussion. Pity it isn't working out for you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:09 PM on June 30, 2006


From all my past experience with you, I do think we could talk about kids from our different points of view respectfully and without judgement or telling each other that we suck or are stupid or other derogatory or hysterical things. Why are we in the minority? It annoys me too.

I don't know! I really don't. People get completely hysterical if the word "child" is even mentioned. It kind of freaks me out.

*(sorry I couldn't think of a better term that wasn't loaded)

Yep, you are right, I'm childfree. I know that might be one of the "loaded" terms you're talking about, but I still choose to use it, even if there are some completely psycho childfrees on the internet. If someone doesn't want to take the time to find out that most of us are completely normal, then I probably don't care to know someone that quick to judge anyway.
posted by agregoli at 12:11 PM on June 30, 2006


George_Spiggots, I'm not attempting to "reframe" the discussion. We both pretty clearly agree that we've said everything we have to say about the actual issue at hand (you've only stayed in this--as I have--to discuss this further question of the implied meaning of "probably doesn't do X"). If you have anything further to offer about the issue itself, there's nothing stopping you from doing so. We all wait with bated breath.

As to whether you were offended by my "probably doesn't beat his wife"--I'm afraid the record speaks for itself. Your immediate response was that it was an unwarranted "personal attack."

Perhaps "tantrum" was an exaggeration, though, so I withdraw that and apologize. Offended, though...yes, you were offended. You were quite right to be offended, it's an offensive formulation. That was what I was trying to demonstrate. You helped me demonstrate that perfectly. For that I thank you. QED.
posted by yoink at 12:27 PM on June 30, 2006


Well the fact that you can be so quick to judge my character speaks volumes about you, bub, so 'll just bow out now and let you go at it as you're doing a better job of unraveling your own beliefs than I ever could.

Skygazer, I said nothing about your character, just that personallly, I won't put much weight on the opinion of someone about Greenberg's psychological health when they admit up front that they find work which I have stated several times was made using immoral methods to be "beautiful."
That's not a character judgement, but a statement of fact. Since I dont' know you outside this thread, your credentials are:
a. that you're a friend of Greenberg and
b. that you find these photos "beautiful"

the first means you're already biased toward a favorable opinion of her; the second means that we have radically imcompatible views on what is beautiful and what is moral (at least when it comes to the ethics of photography).

To use an over-the-top analogy, it's like if I were to post in a thread vouching for the niceness of an anti-abortion activist and then followed up by saying the anti-abortion activist made a really effective anti-abortion sign. It would put me squarely in the anti-abortion camp, and no pro-choice thread participant would find that persuasive.

But, in case that isn't an acceptable answer, I'll also say that no judgement of your character was intended, and if my post came off as such, you have my apologies.

yoink -- clearly you don't think George_Spiggot is posting in good faith. You won't accept his explanation about his own post, which means either that you have experience with him outside this thread that justifies you denying him the benfit of the doubt, or you're just unwilling to give it to him. He's alreayd admitted that, given your interpretation of his words, that he realized his phrasingcould have been better. I suppose you'll settle for nothing other than a "yoink is 100% right" reply?
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:06 PM on June 30, 2006


agregoli - go you. =)
posted by raedyn at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2006


I suppose you'll settle for nothing other than a "yoink is 100% right" reply?

What, you think I sound unreasonable? I'd gladly settle for 95%!

No, I don't have any experience of him outside the thread, but I do know that he is answering in bad faith because he's doing so INSIDE this thread. You really think he thought I didn't notice the word "not"? In his sentence? You really think he's so dumb that he couldn't figure out what my problem was with the "probably not" construction? (Whether he "meant" it that way or not?).

So no, I don't expect him to admit he's wrong any more than I expected him to keep to that "I'll let you have the last word" thing. But it ticked me off that he responded so disingenuously. If he'd simply said "oh, I see what you mean, I didn't mean it that way, I should have said "the difference is that Greenberg doesn't use a pin"" then there'd have been nothing more to say. Instead he went for the insultingly childish obfuscation of "you don't understand what not means"--which, frankly, pissed me off. What purpose does any of this serve? Well, none--but then nobody is actually trying to continue a discussion of the issue (what points are there left to make? raedyn and agregoli are just agreeing that conversations about children are difficult, for example, which is also a "meta" discussion), so it doesn't seem that we're actually preventing anyone from using the space more productively. If I'm wrong, let someone make a substantive comment and I'll drop this argument.
posted by yoink at 1:31 PM on June 30, 2006


Well, yoink,

If that's the case, then why contiune pressing the point at all? If anyone besides George-Spiggot is going to agree with you, there's little else you can say to make your point -- you're already repeating yourself. And it doesn't matter what George_Spiggot says, because you've already made up your mind that he's speaking in bad faith, so you won't even trust him should he suddenly decide to agree with you. In short: you already don't trust him. Why continue?

For myself, I think you're being unreasonable; I can certainly see how it's easy for the phrasing he used to be interpreted the way you did, but I see no reason to disbelieve him when he insists that was the result of an unfortunate choice of words on his part.
In short: your interpretation of the "probably not" phrase is a reasonable, but not inevitable one (e.g., niether I not lodurr read it the way you did, and we both read it similarly, and George_Spiggot's explanation of how he came to use that phrase seems believable.
I also don't know Geogre_Spiggot outside this thread but I have found that in text-based dialogue, where multiple interpretations abound, it's best, unless there is evidence outside the discussion to suggest otherwise, to assume one's discussion partners are posting in good faith.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:49 PM on June 30, 2006


I forgot to add that I agree that George_Spiggot could have been more up-front with his explanation.

Also: why do I say "In short" and then go on longer? ::smacks forehead::
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:51 PM on June 30, 2006


I see no reason to disbelieve him when he insists that was the result of an unfortunate choice of words on his part.

Well, eustacescrubb, that's not quite what he says, though, is it? He says that he wishes he hadn't used that formulation because it gave me an opportunity to throw a red herring across the discussion. He continues to insist that my reading of the statement was perverse (and neither you nor he chooses to address the point that he demonstrated that he perfectly understands the implied meaning of the formulation by getting so incensed by my parallel example).

You didn't read it the way I did? How surprising. You think Greenberg is "fucked up and immoral"--you're so much in agreement with George-Spiggot that his train of thought chimes perfectly with yours. But really, seriously, do you think George_Spiggot's post would have had exactly the same meaning had he written "The only difference is that Greenberg doesn't use a pin"? Imagine that you're writing a press release about Greenberg for a child's rights organization, and you're arguing about whether or not to include "probably" in that sentence. Do you really, honestly, think that you would say "oh, hell--it makes no difference one way or the other"?

Why continue? Well, I already said it serves no purpose, so I'm not sure what more you want from me on that score. We're all arguing on the internet here. Presumably we all enjoy arguing largely for its own sake. You know--the old "connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition." You think most of these discussion threads serve some tangible purpose? Who did you convert to your way of thinking lately?
posted by yoink at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2006


Grrr--preview is your friend. Missed your P.S. so my first para seems extra-double-plus obtuse. Sorry.
posted by yoink at 2:22 PM on June 30, 2006


This thread probably doesn't make toddlers cry.
posted by xod at 2:26 PM on June 30, 2006


This thread probably doesn't make toddlers cry.

No, not the toddlers...

(Hey, how about a series of photos of adults arguing on the internet about the Iraq War: if Ms. Greenberg is reading this thread, there's a money idea for her...)
posted by yoink at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2006


Whether G_S was "right" or "wrong" doesn't really interest me much. However, I am curious (and G_S, consider me a relatively neutral third party in this. In regards to the photos themselves, I'm largely in agreement with you) how you reconcile that "She probably doesn't poke them with pins" is a non-attack but "You probably don't beat your wife" would be an attack. This isn't meant as a backhanded way of saying "There is no difference, you are wrongwrongwrong", because I certainly believe there may be a difference, but I don't see it, and I'm curious what it is (though, of course, you're certainly under no obligation to answer me).

To clarify: I'm not really interested in whether saying "she probably doesn't poke them with a pin" is a bad or good statement, a useful or useless statement, or a defensible or indefensible statement. I'm just curious about where the difference between the pin and the wifebeating statements lies.
posted by Bugbread at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2006


yoink : "Hey, how about a series of photos of adults arguing on the internet about the Iraq War"

Perhaps it would be more her style to make a series of photos of people arguing about Harry Potter or emacs vs. vi or Linux vs. OS X in order to open a dialogue about Iraq.
posted by Bugbread at 9:21 PM on June 30, 2006


bugbread, while I can't really understand why you or anyone else would be interested this flogged to death horse of yoink's, I do appreciate that you apparently went directly to my comments to obtain their wording rather than rely on his countless, progressively amplified characterizations of them. It's kind of remarkable that you were even able to even find them, as any search for my name in here will yield a stupefying number of instances of it in yoinks' comments (or rather, his single, endlessly retreaded comment) and not so many under my own.

Anyway, to your question: the distinction is that my own conduct was not at issue. There is however no disputing that Ms Greenberg makes babies cry, on purpose, to satisfy her own requirements. That's pretty much it.

As for my being so terribly offended, that's pretty much yoinks' escalatiing mythology, as his interpretation finds few takers and he has to become ever more shrill. Try a cold reading of my response without the filter of needing them to be a certain way to see what I mean. I was irritated, though, for two reasons. First, I usually get irritated when a stranger makes it personal with me. (I'm quite revolted, for example, by his constant bandying my name around above, to the point where it nearly succeeds in driving out the actual subject of the FPP. Which of course is the idea; see my remark about "red herring" above, if you can find it in all the noise.) The "accusation" about beatings was just inane; but the accusation of stupidity -- in the sense that what I said correlated in any way with his concoction --- did annoy me more than it should have. In short, it was something of insult to my logic and speech to draw the comparison that he did.

The word "attack" does come across as very defensive; and yoink has milked that one for all it's worth and very considerably more. But it was basically shorthand for "making it personal."

Anyway, I fully expect that if I look back in here again at some future date, I'll see that this has precipitated another hundred or so comments indistinguishable from the preceding hundred or so. I cannot imagine what it must be nice to need something so utterly valueless as badly as he does.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:15 PM on June 30, 2006


(er, cannot imagine what it must be like.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:17 PM on June 30, 2006


the distinction is that my own conduct was not at issue. There is however no disputing that Ms Greenberg makes babies cry, on purpose, to satisfy her own requirements. That's pretty much it.

So, George_Spiggot, the devastating demolition of my argument that you have finally managed to come up with is "she's nasty, I'm nice"? Wow!

Thanks for, once again, proving my point.

TTFN
posted by yoink at 5:41 PM on July 1, 2006


Oh, and P.S., I love your hand-wringing about the fact that I've (quel horreur!) mentioned your name in responding to your post. And the fact that I continue to post in this thread: "Ooh, that horrid yoink--he's so bull headedly stubborn. I, George_Spiggot, on the other hand, am just appropriately determined!"

Hmmmm, I see a certain consistent trend here:

GS says "Greenberg probably doesn't do Y nasty thing" and its simply a neutral description of her behaviour.

Yoink says "GS probably doesn't do X nasty thing" and it's "making it personal.

GS continues pointless internet pissing contest and infinitum and its, what, the continuing battle to rid the world of evil?

Yoink continues pointless internet pissing contest and he's deliberately derailing an otherwise thrillingly informative debate, clearly unhinged etc. etc. etc.

But, you know, George_Spiggot probably isn't the worst hypocrite I've ever encountered.
posted by yoink at 5:55 PM on July 1, 2006


But, you know, George_Spiggot probably isn't the worst hypocrite I've ever encountered.

I'm certain you encounter a worse one at least once a day.
posted by lodurr at 7:46 AM on July 4, 2006


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