June 30, 2008
That picture in today’s Flair just took me places. Here is the letter I just fired off to the editor.
To whom it may concern:
Any thinking person will recognize that the Jamaican media takes a gratuitous and perverse pleasure in serving up images of violence to us on a daily basis. Amping up the emotional responses of citizens is what you use to sell newspapers and get readers. No matter how immoral and unethical such practices, you continue. The most recent rendition of such unethical practices is reflected in the FLAIR story about someone’s achievement at shooting guns. Mind you, this is the second such story in one week, in a day and age where our days and nights are constantly terrorized by guns. Context doesn’t matter, apparently. Here we are celebrating the very weapon and skill that is also killing us. The irony is not lost on the readers.
But the story goes one step further. We don’t get a lovely smiling picture of the person who has excelled at this sport. No, that would not assault the senses sufficiently. What readers find when they open the newspaper is an expertly photographed gun being pointed at them. The experience of opening the newspaper itself on this Monday morning is one akin of violence. Apparently, at some point the Gleaner decided that its readers needed to stare down the barrel of a gun; again, the visual metaphor is not lost on us.
Even if your readers think nothing of guns or the sport under discussion, the poor choice of photograph has managed to demean the value of the person’s achievements with such cheap visual tricks. In my mind, as in the mind of many others, the young man is now a gunman like every other.