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Catering to a Lebanese cliché
March 4, 2007 2:30 AM   Subscribe


 
Thanks for the link CKZ. I didn't know about this photo at all nor the uproar it had caused and I found it all very intriguing.

I guess what this episode tells us is that pictures tell a thousand words, but sometimes 'truth' isn't one of them.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:22 AM on March 4, 2007


Hey, that was my 500th comment. Wheee!
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:25 AM on March 4, 2007


like a frog in a frying pan
posted by phaedon at 3:30 AM on March 4, 2007


Thanks for this. I saw the photo when it won and I had the knee-jerk reaction described in the article. Good to know the whole story.
posted by loosemouth at 4:18 AM on March 4, 2007


Thanks. I didn't really hear of the furore but I'd seen the picture. My reaction was that it was a great juxtaposition - young fresh pristine against bombed out devastation background. I didn't really think of the political or socioeconomic sides to it. I hope they get to go to the ceremony.
posted by peacay at 5:29 AM on March 4, 2007


I think the photo works better if you know some Lebanese young people.. who are almost uniformly horrified at what has happened to their country.

If you use MSN or a variety of social websites, you can meet and read the words of Lebanese young people, many of whom remained online through most of the August war and afterwards. Some fled north and then got back online. Try invoking their words as you look at the picture.

I never even thought to interpret the picture as anti-rich. The picture won because it was cinematic, because the young people were beautiful and stylish, because they look like what Westerners aspire to be. The expressions on their faces are clearly of horror and confusion. The blond angel in front looks uncertainly into the future.

The picture looks like a bomb has dropped on Los Angeles. That's a good thing. Its thousand words say that the people the War on Terror bombs are people very, very much like us.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:45 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thank you for posting this.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:56 AM on March 4, 2007


Almost unnoticed, under the photo we find a line:
This photo won the World Press Photo Award for 2006. The story behind the photo is more complex than appearances suggest.
I found this more interesting then the photo itself, even if the photo immediately re-evoked in me a "rich get best, poor get worst" associated truism.

Immediately followed by "rich idiot western people stopping by are amazed by uncomfortable truth, news at 11"

Interesting to see how unconscious associations can turn into biases even in people like yours truly, usually paying attention to my own biases. Which rememebers me a short story (that i saved on pc)
I met my friend the test pilot, who had just completed an around-the-world flight by balloon. With the pilot was a little girl of about two.

"What's her name?" I asked my friend, whom I hadn't seen in five years and who had married in that time.

"Same as her mother," the pilot replied.

"Hello, Susan," I said to the little girl.

How did I know her name if I never saw the wedding announcement?
posted by elpapacito at 6:18 AM on March 4, 2007


I would have never guessed they were in a mini cooper. That goes a long to explaining the seeming the disaster tourist poses. It isn't that they were riding parade style it's that they couldn't fit in the backseat.
posted by srboisvert at 6:39 AM on March 4, 2007




Gallery of this year's other World Press winners.

Warning: humanity does not come off well.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:37 AM on March 4, 2007


The story behind the photo is more complex than appearances suggest.

I really don't understand the caption or the whole buzz surrounding it. If anybody remotely followed the events in August, they would be aware of the circumstances. It is obvious from their faces that they are at least in their own country, if not their own neighborhood. And they have nothing to be ashamed of.

Would we rather that they be dressed in rags and look like they were starving . . . mumbling to themselves and praying god for forgiveness? You know, the people who usually get bombed.
posted by pwedza at 7:46 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


They commented on the disgusted expressions on the faces of those in the car, saying those expressions only showed the rich have no sympathy for ordinary people.

I like how people just assumed that the 'disgusted' faces were not the result of, say, all the destruction Furthermore they assume that all the residents were poor. After all bombing is only something that happens to poor, religiously backwards get bombed!

This was, I think, the result of a shield that people put up in order to block out the fact that people just like them were being killed.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 AM on March 4, 2007


I would have never guessed they were in a mini cooper.

I wouldn't have noticed either, although you can see the central instrument cluster in the photo :)
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on March 4, 2007


How did I know her name if I never saw the wedding announcement?

Because you know her mother, the test pilot, Susan.
The real question is why you name your kid your own name.
posted by Faux Real at 8:17 AM on March 4, 2007


I dunno. Astro Zombie Jr. seems pretty happy with his name.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:59 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


The picture looks like a bomb has dropped on Los Angeles. That's a good thing. Its thousand words say that the people the War on Terror bombs are people very, very much like us.

Amen brother. But for the Grace of God go we I think the phrase goes.
posted by three blind mice at 10:05 AM on March 4, 2007


I was thinking of the same story, Armitage Shanks.
posted by brundlefly at 10:32 AM on March 4, 2007


not related but... moving, from Terminal Verbosity's link to the rest of the pics.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2007


The woman taking pictures of the damage with her camera phone seemed the most touristy thing going on in the picture.

Since I viewed the photo before reading the article, I had the same sort of knee jerk reaction. But perhaps that's why this picture is so great. 1) It displays the horror that people experience upon returning to their devastated homes and neighborhoods. 2) It highlights the damage even more because of the juxtaposition between the rubble and the seemingly unblemished occupants of the car (not to mention the car itself).
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2007


Interesting backstory. Thanks.
posted by serazin at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2007


Interesting backstory.

Foreign commentators were incensed by the skimpy T-shirts worn by the girls, arguing such apparel was out of place in the conservative neighborhood

And it is their neighbourhood. Hope the jackasses apologized.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:21 PM on March 4, 2007


I'm pretty amazed this photo won the award. It's not really a great photo. There were significantly better photos that were ignored because of the perceived (but nonexistent) class "war" shown in this one that was somehow more important than the fact that the devastation was caused by American munitions launched by an American ally at the civilians of another American ally.
posted by dejah420 at 8:49 PM on March 5, 2007


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