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Thread: Did Kevin Carter do anything wrong (taking that famous photo)?

  1. #1
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Default Did Kevin Carter do anything wrong (taking that famous photo)?

    Kevin Carter became (in)famous having snapped this photo during the Famine in Sudan in 1993:



    He won a Pulitzer for the photo, but shortly thereafter committed suicide.

    At the time there was much commentary along the lines that Carter himself was a vulture, waiting for this child to die, instead of intervening and helping her.

    Was his lack of interference excusble in any way?

    Should news reporters/journalists/photojournalists etc. get involved in their story if they think they can help?

  2. #2
    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Explainable and sad, yes, but excusable, no, mainly because of this:

    Quote Originally posted by Time magazine
    In 1993 Carter headed north of the border with Silva to photograph the rebel movement in famine-stricken Sudan. To make the trip, Carter had taken a leave from the Weekly Mail and borrowed money for the air fare. Immediately after their plane ) touched down in the village of Ayod, Carter began snapping photos of famine victims. Seeking relief from the sight of masses of people starving to death, he wandered into the open bush. He heard a soft, high-pitched whimpering and saw a tiny girl trying to make her way to the feeding center. As he crouched to photograph her, a vulture landed in view. Careful not to disturb the bird, he positioned himself for the best possible image. He would later say he waited about 20 minutes, hoping the vulture would spread its wings. It did not, and after he took his photographs, he chased the bird away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle. Afterward he sat under a tree, lit a cigarette, talked to God and cried.
    Context here.

    The man saw a lot of horrible things and did good by reporting on it. He put his life in jeopardy many times for the sake of his photography. I literally cannot imagine the toll on his soul for the things that he saw. Yet, this was not a mob executing someone. This was not a situation where he had to stay back for his own life and all he could do was take pictures and pray. This was a little girl, crumpled on the ground in starvation, and he sat and watched her and a vulture for twenty minutes, hoping the bird would spread its wings and make a more dramatic photograph.

    I can't judge him too harshly because I have never experienced the things he experienced. I'm sure parts of him were eaten away by what he saw. But I can't excuse the crouch for twenty minutes, watching a starving toddler, hoping the animal that has come to eat her will do something picturesque.

    When all journalists can do is take pictures or risk their lives, I don't really fault them. They're often already involved in a fairly dangerous situation just by being there and I don't blame them for wanting to stay back for their own well-being. But in a situation where there is no danger, only interference with the story, and so they hang back? That's not right. They might be journalists but they're still human beings.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

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    Confused Box Guy fachverwirrt's avatar
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    What's most disturbing about that, Zuul, is that even after he got the picture, apparently he offered her no help. I can't think of any reason that he wouldn't pick her up and carry her to the feeding center, even if there was no way to get her medical attention. Unless there's something there that's not being reported, I just can't understand or excuse that choice.

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    Padding Enabler Panther Squad's avatar
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    How about we use Anderson Cooper as a modern day example?

    Here's a post from his own blog.

    Anderson was in Haiti covering the devastating aftermath of the earthquake. Here he had probably much of the same choice as the photographer above, except his involved directly risking his life (unless the photographer thought the vulture was really a seriously threat to his mortality). He picked up a boy and raced off with him, whereas he could have stood and filmed/reported during the incident. It does not appear that by intervening he lost any journalistic integrity or sacrificed impact on the issues at hand.

    This photographer made a choice. A quick snap to make sure the girl's story was told in the light it ought to be would be forgivable. Letting her continue to struggle was not. That 20 minutes would have been enough time to retrieve food and, at the very least, put it without grabbing distance of the girl.

    I can only imagine that this image weighs most heavily on the photographer who took it. Because the photo is very powerful and speaks of a lot of suffering. Suffering that he knowingly took part in for his own benefit. I hope it means he can't sleep at night or there is no justice.
    comcast guy - m4m - 18 (nb)
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    you had a blue shirt on nice asss,dought you will see this but dosnt hurt to try, but id love to play with you. tell me what you where fixing, or the street name,or describe me.

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Panther Squad View post
    I can only imagine that this image weighs most heavily on the photographer who took it. Because the photo is very powerful and speaks of a lot of suffering. Suffering that he knowingly took part in for his own benefit. I hope it means he can't sleep at night or there is no justice.
    Well he did commit suicide only months afterward.

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    Padding Enabler Panther Squad's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Original An Gadaí View post
    Well he did commit suicide only months afterward.
    ...I read that in your OP. I understood it, technically, but, uh...sometimes I get into dramatic proclamations and facts mean significantly less during than they did before I get started.
    comcast guy - m4m - 18 (nb)
    seem like we had that connection when we looked at each other
    you had a blue shirt on nice asss,dought you will see this but dosnt hurt to try, but id love to play with you. tell me what you where fixing, or the street name,or describe me.

  7. #7
    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by fachverwirrt View post
    What's most disturbing about that, Zuul, is that even after he got the picture, apparently he offered her no help. I can't think of any reason that he wouldn't pick her up and carry her to the feeding center, even if there was no way to get her medical attention. Unless there's something there that's not being reported, I just can't understand or excuse that choice.
    There is a particular school of thought in journalism that you shouldn't get involved at all. Full stop. The journalist should be pure observer and in no way influence events. That particular school of thought is also often associated with the idea that journalists shouldn't take any sort of public political stance, regardless of the issues involved.

    That particular philosophy isn't usually taken to extremes these days (Anderson Cooper does believe journalists should maintain a certain amount of neutrality, but is a decent human being and doesn't extend that to matters of life and death), but with those journalistic "ideals" coupled with having seen some extremely dehumanizing things, I can imagine Carter being able to numb himself to the point where he did nothing.

    I can't understand or excuse it, but I can theoretically see how a human being could end up like that.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

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    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    No excusing it, in my eyes. I'm not sure of the impression or effect it was supposed to have, but my initial thoughts were if I'd been there to see him stop and take this pic, the next pic on his reel of film would have been one of him screaming in agony with his fingers bent backwards.

    Quote Originally posted by The Original An Gadaí View post
    Should news reporters/journalists/photojournalists etc. get involved in their story if they think they can help?
    They should certainly be doing more than taking pictures or cataloguing the misfortunes of others. They aren't filming wildlife documentaries - they are recording the plight of fellow humans; take photos of all the dead bodies you want if that pays your wages, but you do not leave a child suffering while you are waiting for the light conditions to change, in order to get a better snapshot.
    Last edited by ivan astikov; 22 Aug 2010 at 08:15 AM.
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

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    Oliphaunt
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    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post
    They aren't filming wildlife documentaries - they are recording the plight of fellow humans; take photos of all the dead bodies you want if that pays your wages, but you do not leave a child suffering while you are waiting for the light conditions to change, in order to get a better snapshot.
    Ivan took the words right out of my mouth.

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Yeah, ivan really gets to the heart of it. Well said.

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    Sophmoric Existentialist
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    Very well said, ivan.
    Sophmoric Existentialist

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    I've had better days, but I don't care! hatesfreedom's avatar
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    I don't think you can judge a man without being in the shit with him, and not in this case at all. This was a famine and a civil war that went on until what... 2000 something? I even know of the guys who worked in the PMC's that took part in that conflict. Judge all you want I guess, I wouldn't want you not to. But I don't think he did anything wrong. Ivan makes a comment about it not being a wildlife documentary and that's just it, that's exactly what it is. Human life isn't worth much in a lot of places on this earth. You deal with that your own way or you take the easy way out.

    Either way, here's a short film about war photographers that BMW made and this slightly reminded me of.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgOOU0z_Pik

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    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    If you are so desensitised by the job you are doing that you are prepared to let a child suffer for an additional 20 minutes to try and get a better shot, you have already been in the field too long. If you are starting to view the people whose misery you are recording as no more than a wildlife program with humans as the feature animals, you need to take some time off and film children's parties or some other less traumatic aspect of human behaviour.

    What really staggers me about Carter's seeming mindset at the time, is that he didn't want to risk throwing a stone at the vulture to get it to spread its wings, in case it flew off!
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

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    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    It is not always bullets or bombs that kill war correspondents, but the horror they keep inside.
    From this interesting link.
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

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    Oliphaunt jali's avatar
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    Ivan, that was very well said.
    They weren't singing....they were just honking.
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    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    I have a certain amount of sympathy for someone who became so used to seeing horrors that he didn't even react to them anymore. But, I'm sorry, you can't let yourself lose your humanity. I have a hard enough time understanding how people can allow animals to suffer when doing field studies. I understand the reasoning for it, but I I don't get how you detach yourself enough to watch it happen. If you can detach yourself that much from other human beings, you have a problem that needs to be addressed.

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    For whom nothing is written. Oliveloaf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sarahfeena View post
    If you can detach yourself that much from other human beings, you have a problem that needs to be addressed.

    I can't even look at this photograph.

    I cannot imagine taking pay for it.
    "I won't kill for money, and I won't marry for it. Other than that, I'm open to just about anything."

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    Free Exy Cluricaun's avatar
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    It's a heartbreaking picture, nobody can say that it isn't and not be some sort of monster. However by waiting to get just the right photo and perhaps by sacrificing one life, who knows how many others were saved by the power and motivation of that image after it was able to be shown? That image says more than a million words on the intolerable cruelty that humans can inflict upon one another, it serves it's purpose. It's one of the most powerful images ever captured on film. I trust in a professional's opinion on how to best capture that essense so as to report exactly what was happening, the sight, the gravity, the feeling, all of it.

    But if you've never walked a mile through hell yourself and you don't know what it really means to be utterly powerless to stop massive amounts of suffering occuring around you, well, you don't have the authority to judge the man and his actions. Spend some time in a nightmare that you can't wake up from and see how rationally you continue to function. Haiti isn't a valid comparison, sure things were/are squalid and dirty and dangerous, but not even close to the level that can be encountered in Sub-Saharan Africa. Carter would have been a monster had there only been a handful of people dying around him and he didn't stop to help....but we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people all around him either engaged in dying or engaged in bringing death. In light of that, I find that smoking a cigarette and slowly going into shock is a perfectly natural way to deal with it.

    Because you can't deal with it.

    You can't deal with it at all.

    Your brain will literally not let you, lest you go mad on the spot. That level of misery and despair is fatal, 100% of the time. You either go completely sideways on the spot and let a 13 year old with an AK-47 blow your head off and keep your camera as a prize, or you slide forever deeper into the sickness of the poision that's entered your soul. You drink, you drug, you cry yourself to what little sleep you can snatch away from the claws of your memory. And ultimately you die of it. Either by your hand or by your cure.

    So I choose to think of it that Carter gave his own life, and not just his life, but what joy and happiness would have been afforded to him for the rest of his days and he traded it. He traded it with those around him so that he could take the burden of their wretched agony and let the screams of the dying be heard by the rest of the world. Whatever he may have been paid for the photo is a pittance in comparison to what it cost.
    Hell, if I didn't do things just because they made me feel a bit ridiculous, I wouldn't have much of a social life. - Santo Rugger.

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    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    I understand your comments, Cluricaun, but I'll save my empathy for the child in the picture and the millions she may now represent, and not for the photographer and the life that led him to take that photograph.

    What I still can't get my head around is that the man was given a Pulitzer prize for this particular piece of "professionalism". I wonder what the judges thought about his waiting 20 minutes to hopefully get a better shot, before shooing the vulture away - so he said! - and then leaving the child as though it had been an eye-catching bit of driftwood.
    Last edited by ivan astikov; 24 Aug 2010 at 05:07 PM.
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

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    Not helping the child was unforgivable. But journalists do a valuable thing, especially photographers, by helping to drive home the horrors of the situations they're investigating. Taking the picture right away and then helping the child would certainly do more good than just carrying the child to the feeding center.

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    Free Exy Cluricaun's avatar
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    Also, not that this is a stunningly important point, but if you're 20 minutes away from dying due to starvation there ain't much that can be done for you at that point anyway. Your digestive system would have shut down and any efforts to feed you at that point, at least to the abilities of a feeding center doling out bowls of gruel, would be to cause your last moments to be spent vomiting and choking. I'd still have tried, but that child was going to die despite anyone's best efforts.
    Hell, if I didn't do things just because they made me feel a bit ridiculous, I wouldn't have much of a social life. - Santo Rugger.

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    my god, he's full of stars... OneCentStamp's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cluricaun View post
    Also, not that this is a stunningly important point, but if you're 20 minutes away from dying due to starvation there ain't much that can be done for you at that point anyway.
    But she didn't die after 20 minutes. She resumed trying to crawl to the aid station after 20 minutes, while he sat under a tree and lit a Dunhill*. Nobody knows if she would have survived with his help, but to not try, even after getting his prize-winning photo, is pretty weak.














    * I don't know for sure that it was a Dunhill, but it looks better in my mind.
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    Quote Originally posted by OneCentStamp View post
    But she didn't die after 20 minutes. She resumed trying to crawl to the aid station after 20 minutes, while he sat under a tree and lit a Dunhill*. Nobody knows if she would have survived with his help, but to not try, even after getting his prize-winning photo, is pretty weak.














    * I don't know for sure that it was a Dunhill, but it looks better in my mind.
    We only have his word she survived....


    In taking the photo - no, by waiting 20 minutes to get a better shot - yes.

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    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zweedo Rodriguez View post
    We only have his word she survived....


    In taking the photo - no, by waiting 20 minutes to get a better shot - yes.
    Yeah, Zweedo, I keep going back to that 20 minutes. It seems like he was kind of dying right there with her.

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    my god, he's full of stars... OneCentStamp's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zweedo Rodriguez View post
    We only have his word she survived...
    I must have missed this; I didn't see where he said she survived.
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    Confused Box Guy fachverwirrt's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by OneCentStamp View post
    I must have missed this; I didn't see where he said she survived.
    From Zuul's link (post 2):

    ...after he took his photographs, he chased the bird away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle.
    She survived the 20 minutes (allegedly). Nobody knows if she survived long-term.

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    Aged Turtle Wizard Clothahump's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post
    They should certainly be doing more than taking pictures or cataloguing the misfortunes of others. They aren't filming wildlife documentaries - they are recording the plight of fellow humans; take photos of all the dead bodies you want if that pays your wages, but you do not leave a child suffering while you are waiting for the light conditions to change, in order to get a better snapshot.
    This.

    Ivan, you and I disagree on many things, but amigo - you nailed it here!
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    Elephant Myglaren's avatar
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    Unforgivable!
    Two minutes to take the shot would be OK, as long as he had then taken the time and effort to get the little girl some help, never mind that it was - possibly - too late for her and a vain attempt but the attempt to save her should have been made otherwise in effect she gave her life to get him a Pulitzer prize.

    The picture was in the bag. That he then did nothing is as reprehensible as it gets.

  29. #29
    Why so serious? Tinker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zuul View post
    Explainable and sad, yes, but excusable, no, mainly because of this:

    Quote Originally posted by Time magazine
    In 1993 Carter headed north of the border with Silva to photograph the rebel movement in famine-stricken Sudan. To make the trip, Carter had taken a leave from the Weekly Mail and borrowed money for the air fare. Immediately after their plane ) touched down in the village of Ayod, Carter began snapping photos of famine victims. Seeking relief from the sight of masses of people starving to death, he wandered into the open bush. He heard a soft, high-pitched whimpering and saw a tiny girl trying to make her way to the feeding center. As he crouched to photograph her, a vulture landed in view. Careful not to disturb the bird, he positioned himself for the best possible image. He would later say he waited about 20 minutes, hoping the vulture would spread its wings. It did not, and after he took his photographs, he chased the bird away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle. Afterward he sat under a tree, lit a cigarette, talked to God and cried.
    Context here.

    The man saw a lot of horrible things and did good by reporting on it. He put his life in jeopardy many times for the sake of his photography. I literally cannot imagine the toll on his soul for the things that he saw. Yet, this was not a mob executing someone. This was not a situation where he had to stay back for his own life and all he could do was take pictures and pray. This was a little girl, crumpled on the ground in starvation, and he sat and watched her and a vulture for twenty minutes, hoping the bird would spread its wings and make a more dramatic photograph.

    I can't judge him too harshly because I have never experienced the things he experienced. I'm sure parts of him were eaten away by what he saw. But I can't excuse the crouch for twenty minutes, watching a starving toddler, hoping the animal that has come to eat her will do something picturesque.

    When all journalists can do is take pictures or risk their lives, I don't really fault them. They're often already involved in a fairly dangerous situation just by being there and I don't blame them for wanting to stay back for their own well-being. But in a situation where there is no danger, only interference with the story, and so they hang back? That's not right. They might be journalists but they're still human beings.
    I had no idea about that aspect of it. That's horrible. I mean damn, snap the fucking picture then pick her up and take her to the feeding station.
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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tinker View post
    I had no idea about that aspect of it. That's horrible. I mean damn, snap the fucking picture then pick her up and take her to the feeding station.
    For sure. I don't think there's anything I can add that hasn't already been said. Those extra twenty minutes are just obscene.

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    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    This whole thread breaks my heart.

    A question I'd like to see several answers to before I offer an opinion on Carter: How many posters who are condemning the photographer have lived a life where you view poverty day after day, year in and year out, that you simply cannot systemically eradicate?

    And I'm not talking about hard luck stories in a developed country like the US or the UK, where Horatio Alger is always whispering around the corner. I'm talking about poverty in a developing country, or (a thousand times deeper into hell) a failed state. How many of you have been "rich" while seeing, over and over and over and over again - on a nearly daily basis for YEARS - the ravages of war, poverty, disease, natural disaster, bad governance, corruption, inequitable division of resources?

    I don't pretend to have seen anything like the horrors that Carter did. But I see very, very difficult conditions every day here in Jakarta. I go home past putrid canals filled with filth that would cause your average insulated American to gag. In Mozambique, I saw land mine victims every single day - and I knew it was perfectly fine to give away one shoe, because so many people only had one leg anyway. (Insert self-rightous continuation of that theme here - trash pickers in Cairo, naked kids in Micronesia, take your pick.)

    Tell me about YOUR personal, up-close, day-in-and-day-out life-along-side horror. And tell me how it relates to your judgment, or lack thereof, of the photographer.

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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    This whole thread breaks my heart.

    A question I'd like to see several answers to before I offer an opinion on Carter: How many posters who are condemning the photographer have lived a life where you view poverty day after day, year in and year out, that you simply cannot systemically eradicate?
    You're talking about Carter's life in South Africa? He didn't actually live it; he was in a position to document it. If you are talking about his time in Sudan, he'd not been there long when this happened. Sorry, but you can't defend the indefensible without being a little bit wrong.
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

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    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post

    You're talking about Carter's life in South Africa? He didn't actually live it; he was in a position to document it. If you are talking about his time in Sudan, he'd not been there long when this happened.
    No, actually, I was NOT talking about Carter's life in South Africa. I was asking about the personal experiences of people responding to this thread.

    (Also, I didn't offer an opinion on Carter yet. Why do you assume I'm defending him - what I did was to ask questions, not judge.)

    I'm interested in answers to my question, in any case.
    Last edited by Hatshepsut; 27 Sep 2010 at 10:45 AM.

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    A question I'd like to see several answers to before I offer an opinion on Carter: How many posters who are condemning the photographer have lived a life where you view poverty day after day, year in and year out, that you simply cannot systemically eradicate?
    I readily admit that I cannot even fathom what he saw and experienced. This is largely why I said this at the beginning:

    I can't judge him too harshly because I have never experienced the things he experienced. I'm sure parts of him were eaten away by what he saw. But I can't excuse the crouch for twenty minutes, watching a starving toddler, hoping the animal that has come to eat her will do something picturesque.
    I don't think what he did was something excusable. I don't think he necessarily thought it was, either. But he also had truly been through the wringer and likely had a much better grasp on what awaited that girl if she got to the feeding station than the majority of us posting here. You don't have to be the one in danger to get PTSD or be otherwise deeply affected. If I had lived his life, would I have made a different choice? Would I have been able to look at that human suffering day in and day out without simply shutting down and dying inside? I can't answer that.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

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    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Hatshepsut, I really do get what you're saying. The whole thing is just tragic...that there are people living in such conditions, that there are so many who do so that the rest of us can't deal with it or even come close to grasping it. I don't condemn the guy at all, his story is tragic, too, and the work he was doing was valuable, clearly. I just think that he needed to remove himself and get help for his own sake, because his suicide didn't help matters, one bit.

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    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post

    You're talking about Carter's life in South Africa? He didn't actually live it; he was in a position to document it. If you are talking about his time in Sudan, he'd not been there long when this happened.
    No, actually, I was NOT talking about Carter's life in South Africa. I was asking about the personal experiences of people responding to this thread.

    (Also, I didn't offer an opinion on Carter yet. Why do you assume I'm defending him - what I did was to ask questions, not judge.)

    I'm interested in answers to my question, in any case.
    I don't have to experience a traumatic life to empathise with those who have endured one. I don't have to see horrific injuries in the flesh to be disgusted and shocked by them, and to relate to the pain the the victims endured. Nobody is forced to take on the role of a war correspondent and if someone takes on the job, they'd better not expect any sympathy from me for these horrors they have inflicted upon themselves and their inability to deal with them.
    Last edited by ivan astikov; 27 Sep 2010 at 01:44 PM.
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

  37. #37
    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    So the answer is no, you've not had the experience of living alongside more human misery than you can ever hope to solve.

    Personally, I cannot imagine how anyone could sit there and not do something to try to save the child - or, if he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was nothing he could do to save her life, at least go to comfort her. I do not condone Carter's behavior and I surely hope I would not behave the way he did in that situation.

    That having been said, I think all the over-the-top "he's a monster! How could he not try to save her!" commentary borders on hypocritical unless you are daily engaged in strenuous activity to help people whose lives are being damaged by poverty, war and other miseries. Just because you aren't ten feet away from the suffering doesn't mean it isn't happening. Just because you aren't ten feet away doesn't remove your obligation as a fellow human to try to help. It changes the methods at your disposal, but not the morality.

  38. #38
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    That having been said, I think all the over-the-top "he's a monster! How could he not try to save her!" commentary borders on hypocritical unless you are daily engaged in strenuous activity to help people whose lives are being damaged by poverty, war and other miseries. Just because you aren't ten feet away from the suffering doesn't mean it isn't happening. Just because you aren't ten feet away doesn't remove your obligation as a fellow human to try to help. It changes the methods at your disposal, but not the morality.
    Anyone who gives to charity can reasonably argue that yes they are doing something in a small way, anyone else who volunteers etc. can too. I have the privilege of living in a country where absolute poverty is probably non-existent and although plenty of people want for things, I think the only starvation would be self-imposed. However, where I've seen a need I've helped individuals, none of course in as extreme as situation as in the OP. I'm not too sure even in the worst slums of Jakarta you get too many toddlers crawling towards food, starving to death, however since I've never been there perhaps I'm incorrect. Doing nothing to help someone in immediate, extreme need of help is bad enough (and perhaps understandable when in an extreme environment) but actually using their situation for personal artistic or monetary gain makes this a worse evil than just apathy.

  39. #39
    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Original An Gadaí View post
    Anyone who gives to charity can reasonably argue that yes they are doing something in a small way, anyone else who volunteers etc. can too. I have the privilege of living in a country where absolute poverty is probably non-existent and although plenty of people want for things, I think the only starvation would be self-imposed. However, where I've seen a need I've helped individuals, none of course in as extreme as situation as in the OP. I'm not too sure even in the worst slums of Jakarta you get too many toddlers crawling towards food, starving to death, however since I've never been there perhaps I'm incorrect. Doing nothing to help someone in immediate, extreme need of help is bad enough (and perhaps understandable when in an extreme environment) but actually using their situation for personal artistic or monetary gain makes this a worse evil than just apathy.
    Oh, I agree with all that. But perhaps I'm misunderstanding Carter's motives. I would assume that he understood how compelling the shot would be and believed that it just might be a wake-up call for smug first-world people who would otherwise dismiss the Sudan as so far beyond hope as to not be worth thinking about. If by that one shot he could generate thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed starving people, it would certainly be a defensible goal.

    If he really didn't care about raising awareness in the world, and really only said to himself "Wow! Cool shot! Let me get it just right so I can make gobs of money!" then he was despicable.

  40. #40
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    I don't know how it was as the time but in recent years I've become annoyed with "poverty porn" or "misery porn". Glossy Sunday magazine suppliments juxtapose beautifully shot pictures of emaciated Subsaharan African children or victims of civil strife in South-East Asia with advertisements for luxury goods. Now you could argue that by targetting high net worth individuals that the photographers can generate more money for charity but most people examine the pictures, go, "oh that's terrible" then go eat their Sunday roast. These pictures are just too familiar to shock anyone into action anymore in a way they might have in say the Live Aid era.

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    When I first saw this picture, words cannot describe the sorrow I felt in my heart. The photograph embodies and conveys the ultimate depths of human suffering and injustice in this world. It would leave one to question, how could the photographer not have "done" something. Why didn't he help her?! The picture was taken in 1993 during the Sudanese famine. I got to thinking, what if the camera had panned out and there were hundreds or thousands of other people, including children, who were starving or at death's door. Would we still have placed the same obligations on him? The truth is, during his visit to Sudan, he probably did see hundreds, if not thousands of starving people. And from our point of view, we are shown one iconic image that is extremely emotionally powerful. We love and pity this girl and want to know why he didn't save her. We have the connection to her, but what about all the nameless, faceless starving people whose pictures did not appear in The New York Times? Where is our pity for them? Carter must have been faced with insurmountable devastation, to the point where he became desensitized or impotent. I pity him and I pity our species for allowing this suffering to persist when we have means to end it. As a side note, living a vegetarian lifestyle supports a model that feeds exponentially more people than a meat-based diet, and most importantly, it reduces suffering in a world that sometimes seems irredeemably hopeless.

  42. #42
    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jmbhunt View post
    ... As a side note, living a vegetarian lifestyle supports a model that feeds exponentially more people than a meat-based diet, and most importantly, it reduces suffering in a world that sometimes seems irredeemably hopeless.
    Even better would be birth control. Stop the population growth altogether and we could feed humanity easily. Slowly reduce population a bit and we could probably handle the growing problem of potable water.

    The green revolution that has led to the ability to feed so many billions is running into new problems, ever more mouths to feed and getting the water to grow the food is getting tougher and tougher. We will need to switch to specific drip irrigation to keep up with demand and if growth does halt we'll exceed even that.

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