Monday, November 09, 2009

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words?

When I first read about the Fort Hood massacre I noticed the repeated use of certain pictures. This one was particularly common:

The Los Angeles Times explained it as follows:

A private is comforted outside Fort Hood Army base after the shooting deaths of at least a dozen people at a personnel and medical processing office and at a theater, both on base. (Ben Sklar / Getty Images)

This picture was also fairly common:

CBC links the following explanation to it:

Sgt. Anthony Sills comforts his wife as they wait outside the army base Thursday. They had to wait for a lockdown to be lifted before they could collect their three-year-old son, was in daycare on the base. (Jack Plunkett/Associated Press)

The Examiner:

Soldier comforts his wife.

The U.K. Guardian used this picture:

with the following explanation:

Daniel Clark hugs and comforts his wife Rachel after the shooting by Nidal Malik Hasan at the Fort Hood army base near Killeen, Texas. Photograph: Rodolfo Gonzalez/AP

All the bolding in these quotes are by me.

So what's my point, you might ask. A horrible event has just happened and people are upset. Other people comfort them, right?

But note how all those comforted are women and how all those doing the comforting are men. It may be that women were more upset by the events. But it may also be that certain pictures look appropriate when a massacre has just happened, and that those pictures are not necessarily picked to be representative of all the people who were upset or comforted others.

Note also that the last picture was picked by some newspapers and described as "the couple embracing" which is, of course, all we really see.