Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 17, 2013

Next Time You Hit a Wall, Hit it Back

I know this is a little dated at this point but it’s one of my favorite photos of the summer. It was taken by an LA Times photographer on July 28th when that riot broke out in Huntington Beach during the U.S. Open of Surfing. What’s so notable about the image, obviously, is how much the poster both foreshadows and mirrors the mayhem in the streets. (Doing a little (web) surfing, you will discover that this isn’t the first time HB has had a surf riot. And as the poster dramatizes, it’s a sport that lends itself to smack downs.)

There is another aspect of the photo though that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up unless you were either familiar with the poster or could see it much closer. Turns out, it’s a sponsorship promo for Red Bull. (The text says: Red Bull gives you wings.)¬†How prophetic, the way things turned out, that a commercial product company peddling liquid speed would elaborate the brand and the event by advocating aggression.

( photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times. caption: People watch from inside a restaurant as a squadron of police in riot gear confront rioters on Main Street)

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