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Grotesque voyeurism by NY Times

Wed 2014-Jul-23 @ MYT 14:25:35 pm
The New York Times published a stark photo of an MH17 victim’s body, covered in plastic, on its front page on Saturday — which its editor, Dean Baquet tried to justify later by calling it “important” and “one of the most beautiful pictures of war I’ve seen in a long time”.

Dean Baquet and the New York Times were wrong.

They engaged in a grotesque act of voyeurism, treating an MH17 victim, a human being, as merely an object, and viewing the photograph merely as an aesthetic illustration.

Trying to justify it in grander terms, as making some lofty statement about war, is stretching the point. This isn’t Picasso’s Guernica. It’s a photo of a dead person. An anonymous person. It’s being viewed in the abstract, removed from human existence.

It’s not a photo about war. It’s a picture of death. A body in the park. After a mugging, or a domestic quarrel gone wrong, or any other circumstance now common to a world given to violence.

That there was a rose artfully placed on the corpse — deliberately? to make it more “artistic” perhaps? — only makes it worse.

Dean Baquet’s remark that “this isn’t a time for antiseptic coverage” merely puts a gloss on the NYT’s pandering to disaster voyeurism.

The photo itself says little about war. But its use says a lot about the New York Times and its values today.

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