Someone has probably sent you videos of the Occupy Wall Street protests this week in New York. This clip is popular, 40 seconds that ostensibly shows two women being pepper-sprayed for no apparent reason, although I’ve run it a few times and can’t find the moment of truth. Besides, I’m sure someone has it from another angle. Every other person there was carrying a camera.
We live in a world more photographed every day, and still, we miss stuff all the time. All the cameras in New York City, and only one captured the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. Probably hundreds were trained on the buildings when the second plane hit, and yet, conspiracy theorists continue to insist we don’t really know what happened. Did anyone ever see the plane that hit the Pentagon? The command center of the vast American military, and all I recall was a grainy security-camera image of a blur and a fireball. No wonder the truthers were able to beat that dead horse for a decade.
I knew a photographer in college who was summoned to testify about some photos of alleged police brutality he’d taken at a demonstration. As he remembered the experience, the cross-examination was short. How many frames can your camera shoot? Five per second with a motor drive. How many frames on a roll of film? Thirty-six. How many frames does a film camera capture? Twenty-four per second. Thank you, that is all.
A plane crash-lands in the Hudson River, in a city packed with tourists and cameras, and one building’s security cam gets a clear shot, and only a glimpse between buildings. Today’s cell phones can capture video in high-definition. I can have mine out and ready to roll in a matter of seconds, and I don’t think I’ve ever shot anything worth shooting.
And yet, does a day go by when someone isn’t embarrassed or done in by a single photo? Scarlett Johansson can’t resist snapping a private shot of her fine fanny, and soon it’s out there and nearly crashes the internet. Two Detroit cops are on the hot seat for photos taken outside a traveling strip club/party bus called the Booty Lounge. I don’t even see where they did anything wrong; the picture could have been a photobomb for all I can tell. But it was on the club’s Facebook page, and so it must be atoned for.
Last night NPR had a piece on the crackdown on anonymous internet commenters; more newspapers are making a connection with Facebook or some other real-name network, and now comments on stories must be made under one’s actual name. Part of me applauds this — a self-respecting sewer rat wouldn’t hang in most newspaper comment section — while the rest wonders what this will mean in a world where we’re supposedly accountable for every utterance, online or off, along with every embarrassing photo ever taken of us, ever.
My guess is, soon it won’t matter. Or maybe we’ll all simply change our names.
The final day of my hell week, and pals, I can’t wait for it to end. Happy Thursday.