Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 6, 2015

Remember that Angry Penguin? Now it's the Cows.

Do you remember that demonstrative photo of a penguin I posted a few weeks back?

As climate change gains more visibility in the public square, it’s interesting to observe how creatures are playing a supporting role. I wonder, in fact, if what I was picking up in that shot on the ice floe might be just as much in play in this Magnum photo helping illustrate a VICE article titled: “We’ve Damaged the Planet So Badly It’s Entering a New Epoch.” Once again, the creatures seem personified, as if there is actually something political in those expressions. …Certainly, one doesn’t have to be paranoid to feel in trouble.

Before we attribute those looks to anger or disappointment, however, let’s not forget the guiding influence of a caption. This one reads:

The explosion of the global cow population is a cause of increased C02 levels and rising global temperatures.

Certainly, it’s interesting, and important even, how the earth’s creatures are being conscripted by the media and social media as ideological messengers. At the same time, however, it’s possible what we’re seeing here, with the long faces and the heads slightly ducked, are these cows delivering more CO2 right this moment.

(photo: Photo by Patrick Zachmann / Magnum Photos.)

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