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.
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:
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:
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.