Here at the BAG, the typical process goes like this: blogger meets image; blogger falls in love with image; blogger writes up image. There are certainly other times, though, when the image takes longer to get to know.
I found this first shot in early March. I had been regularly tracking the wire photos from Iraq, and I was interested in news from Ramadi. Word was that the U.S. was on the verge of a major assault. Since little information was available, I wanted to know what the pictures had to say. The day I checked, several of the photos showed heavily armed insurgents roaming freely through the city.
I pulled the Mickey Mouse shot, and one other. The other shot showed these armed men in front of a a metal pull-down gate with a pack of Marlboros painted on it. Looking back, I’m not sure why I saved those pictures. I think it was to illustrate the worse-case scenario for globalization.
I then promptly forgot about Mickey and McDemocracy. At least, until last Thursday, when I stumbled on the second shot above. As a Reuters “Editors Pick,” this photo captures Palestinian fighters resting prior to a Hamas rally in a Gaza refugee camp. What really caught my attention though is that the caption (and the same was true for “Mickey”) failed to say a word about the backdrop.
If the doe character behind the Hamas contingent was identifiable as Bambi, the globalization theme might have stuck. Instead however, what we have are images of Middle Eastern and Gulf warriors set against what are more likely random cartoons.
In considering both images, I started thinking about how much we live in a world of escapism. Perhaps the attraction of these shots is that they distract from the terrible nonfiction of real fighters and real blood being spilled and real limbs being blown off. Just like the Administration creates readily accepted visual and verbal buffers between the public and the war, perhaps these photos do the same thing. They help us look elsewhere.
But, couldn’t it also work the opposite way? Maybe these photographers are fully mindful how westerners move through life partly anesthetized by the cultural entertainment complex. Perhaps the purpose of juxtaposing these fighters and figures is to push the foreground, supplying at least the passing shot that life is not all fun and games.
(image 1: Bilal Hussein/AP – March 9, 2005 in YahooNews; image 2: Suhaib Salem/Reuters – April 9, 2005)