January 15, 2005

Harry The Nazi

 Us.Yimg.Com P Ap 20050113 Capt.Lab10101130053.Britain Royals Prince Harry Lab101

  Certainly, Prince Harry showing up at a costume party wearing a Nazi uniform is going to stir debate about his values; Prince Charles’ parenting style; and the extent to which youth in Britain and the rest of the world are familiar with or understand WWII and the Holocaust.  At least, that summarizes the coverage I’ve read.

I’m not sure how much that accounts for this picture, however. 

This AP photo, which appeared on the cover of today’s LA Times, shows a man holding a newspaper with a large headline reading “Harry The Nazi” accompanying a substantial photo of Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform.  By the way, the man (holding the paper?  reading it?  posing with it?) is a newspaper vendor.  The newspaper, let’s just say, is not the London Times. 

But, what is the actual subject of this image?  Is it about the content of the original photo (Harry at the party, and what he’s wearing), or is it about the newspaper exhibiting Harry’s picture (Harry getting caught, and being put on display to the benefit of the gossip industry), or is it about the motive of the news seller (one Roy Ottoway)– who may be standing behind Harry and the paper, but stands to gain not just from the newspaper’s depiction of Harry, but from the AP’s depiction of him.  (In considering the objects, notice the newspaper is the largest element, with Mr. Ottoway a close second, and Harry third.)

By the way, there is one more level of display.  You, the information consumer, would hardly see an image like this in isolation.  Instead, you would see it in another newspaper, or on a news website.  In that case, it’s worth mentioning that Harry is not just entertainment fodder for the gossip rags, but is also a revenue source for the AP, the LA Times and Yahoo, as well.

Maybe this photo is about Hitler, Britain and the Holocaust.  Maybe this shot is about history and about how today’s youth fail to understand it.  Maybe the photo embodies the more symptomatic nature of an intensely rich, intensely famous and intensely scrutinized kid who might understandably be a little confused and pissed off (and might have taken the family’s impending outpouring of attention over the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation as an opportunity to stage a little rebellion). 

On the other hand, maybe this shot is about the fate of a not-quite-fairy tale prince who’s mother’s life, marriage and death served as one of the largest, most profitable gossip troughs of the last half century.

(image: AP/Adam Butler in YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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