Thursday, 31 July 2008

Killers, Victims and Fat Arses — A Guide To Lazy Journalism

by Edwin Hesselthwite

Madeline McCann, Myra Hindley, and two girls in football shirts

Little Man, What Now? has long been intrigued by the iconic photographs that emerge in relation to any major media shit-storm. This occurs particularly in the case of murders, and the seedier side (is there any other?) of tabloidism. In a rolling-news event, certain pivotal photographs emerge and fall into a "public domain" defence that limits royalty payments. These photographs are then plastered on the billboards and front pages of the country for months, even years. I challenge any British citizen not to be able to recognise half the personable females in the above photographs.

It all comes down to royalty payments for photograph use, and the limited selection of available images in the photo-archives of each media group. The collective pool of photographs available is reasonably small, and sometimes you see the same pictures turning up time over time... For instance: somewhere in the country, a woman who was merely walking down the street when a photographer passed has become the public figurehead of Britain's supposed obesity epidemic.

Is this your arse?

We can see this delightful rear both here, and here. Two separate major media groups, same iconic image, I challenge you to spot more uses of this photograph to make us all feel really bad for not being sparrow-small.

The most amusing images occur when a figure of public outrage just doesn't look sufficiently evil to sell newspapers. However hard the press office tried to find a suitable photograph (the mug-shot is usually a good bet for evilness), the highest kill-count murderer in British history, Harold Shipman, just looked a bit too cuddly... Resulting in newsrooms going to unusual lengths to make him look a bit more intimidating.

Harold Shipman, and the version of this photograph used in the BBC's The Killer Doctor biography "Jeremy, do you think we can zoom in on this bastard's face a bit more for added evil?"

I was thinking about this today after noticing a new trend in such photojournalism... This style of iconic photography, which we will call The Humbled Enemy, aims to show a figure who was previously a subject of media demonisation. On falling into the hands of Justice and Western Civilisation they must be shown in the most degrading fashion possible, yet still be recognisable as the worst human-being since Judas. Hmm, Schadenfreude... The Little Man team isn't sure they've pulled it off with this one, he looks a bit too serene, but we still expect to see this photograph hundreds of times over the coming months:

Some old dude, with razor rash

We'll be keeping this file open...

1 comment:

Bibliolatrist said...

Geez lady, go up a size why don't you?