Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 5, 2015

On the Empire State Building Endangered Species Spectacular: I Want to Believe

Yesterday, I wrote about shaming as a primary gesture of social media. How often do we ask ourselves, given how thoroughly protest and activism aligns today with marketing and entertainment, corporate branding and outdoor advertising, whether or how much we might be confusing witnessing with spectacle?

Large images of endangered species are projected on the south facade of The Empire State Building, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in New York. The large scale projections are in part inspired by and produced by the filmmakers of an upcoming documentary called "Racing Extinction."  (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
I want to believe the endangered species show staged on the side of the Empire State Building, then clicked everywhere, was more an act of conscience than a brilliant promotion for the Discovery Channel.

I want to believe these anthropomorphic gazes, these eyes and faces of victimization, are more than just base attractors driven by public guilt.

Last night #Cecil roars in #NewYorkCity

A photo posted by Antonio Pio Saracino (@antoniopiosaracino) on

I want to believe that this campaign didn’t really need the boost of lionizing one animal or taking down a dentist.

I want to believe there is something different or special here about the cause of animal endangerment and a call to action on behalf of the animal kingdom than there is to (all the ernest and daily media and social media display of human endangerment or planetary endangerment.

I want to believe that what I’m experiencing here is demonstrably more than just do-good shock-and-awe.

Projecting Change is a promotion for the Discovery Channel program, Racing Extinction. Racing Extinction is also a project and a fund you can visit here.

(photo 1: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters. caption: Large images of endangered species are projected on the south facade of The Empire State Building on Aug. 1, 2015, in New York City. photo 2: Craig Ruttle—AP)

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