Posted by: bellabook1 | December 10, 2014

Dangerous Narratives, Damaging Language Cont’d

This piece is 100% a continuation (an homage more than anything else) to Kay’s wonderful piece: https://victorianvisualculture.com/2014/12/04/dangerous-language-damaging-narratives-the-case-of-ferguson/

Kay’s piece, which connects the reframing of the images stemming from the media’s portrayal of Ferguson to Oscar Wilde’s discussion of imagery and the danger of representation, uses this powerful image.

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It reminded me of a twitter campaign that happened in August right after Ferguson, entitled #iftheygunnedmedown.   In this campaign, young black people used the ostensibly more democratic form of social media to protest the way that the media was reframing and re-editorializing narratives of violence via their selection of images.

Some of my favorites from the campaign include:

If-They-Gunned-Me-Down-August-2014-BellaNaija.com-03  02-IfTheyGunnedMeDown Screen-Shot-2014-08-13-at-10.52.22-am (1) tumblr_na49o1yrkI1qgwi7to3_500

This refusal to be subsumed into a narrative reminds of the piece we read earlier in the semester “Fenians in the Frame” where certain prisoners smiled during their photographs, thus using their positions as subjects to reimagine the narrative surrounding their images.  The images that first come to mind are these:

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While being taken centuries apart, both of these sets of images create a dialogue about people reclaiming the images of their bodies that have been othered and presented in different, biased ways.   While the understanding of images, the vehicle for their disbursement, and the power that subjects have in asserting how their images are used were vastly different for both groups of people, the agency of the subject is central to both. While photography, archival or otherwise, was new when the suspected Fenians were taked,  the subjects of #iftheygunnedmedown, are consciously reacting to the rewriting of their images, and by extension, their idenities, within their own social networks and drawing attention to the power that reframing has in presenting a narrative.


Responses

  1. I think anonymity plays a big role in the narrative of photography. In the case of the #iftheygunnedmedown campaign, one reason why the media can so easily choose the more racist photo is because the victims are not widely known. They aren’t celebrities or politicians; they are members of a smaller internal community of friends and family personal to them. Social media and the rate at which information can be spread are restricting the ability for the press and media to manipulate information because the truth can now spread as quickly as the lies; yet, it has obviously not solved the problem. I think, however, social media will be the tool in which to change the system. It’s becoming impossible for things to go unnoticed and it’s very easy for information to become viral. Anonymity is becoming obsolete. If a kid from Texas can become an overnight celebrity because he has nice hair and works at Target, it seems like most anything could be possible with social media.


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