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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/22/13

Objectivity vs. Selfies

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A full color digital image of a Berkeley artist, after being photoshopped, appears to distort reality more than a selfie would. 

French existentialist philosophers will probably find some deeply disturbing narcissistic meaning lurking behind the current American fad of taking self-portraits with a cell phone called "selfies."   Didn't they heap copious amounts of adulation on American writer Henry Miller for doing with words what kids are doing with digital images?   Isn't "Tropic of Cancer" an example of literature as a selfie?

Selfies are limited in perspective because the camera's point of view is restricted to arm's length.   Photos take by another person are often taken from a point of view that is much further away from the subject and thus (ostensibly) provide a much more "objective" version of reality.   Photographer Cindy Sherman was known for taking photos of herself before the word selfie came into popular usage.   She used either a cable release, a self timer, or a studio assistant to click the shutter and thus distance her subject from the camera. 

When Ernest Hemingway went to cover the Spanish Civil War didn't the fact that Hemingway was covering the conflict become "the" story?

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Is there a difference between a PR (Public Relations) HO (Hand Out) story, a traditional news story, and Gonzo Journalism? 

The symbolism of a personality looming large in the foreground of an interesting scene is far different from a record shot of the artist "out among them."

There was an amusing bit on the Internet this week that featured famous news photos doctored to appear to be selfies. 

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That in turn causes us to wonder if the journalists in Washington are producing journalism that is the verbal equivalent of selfie photos.   Yes, you could say that "Today we asked the President . . ." is a continuation of the Sixties era Gonzo school of journalism, but isn't a constant torrent of such material just as stultifying as a tsunami of selfie pictures?

Edward R. Murrow went, saw, and reported, but he removed himself (as well as he could) from his stories while at the same time, Ernest Hemingway was insinuating himself into as many news events as possible.   Someday we may write a column addressing the question: "Was the better journalist Murrow or Hemingway?" 

Did Hemingway inspire the Beat writers and didn't they morph into Gonzo?   So is Hemingway the grandfather of Gonzo?   Are some of Hemingway's stories the verbal equivalent of a selfie photo?

Was Murrow really the epitome of an objective reporter?   Some biographers portray Murrow as a fellow who was convinced that the United States would have to go to war with Hitler and so he shaped his narratives of the Battle of Britain to that end. 

We know of one fellow in L. A. who was writing film reviews for a second level national magazine and was proud to be invited to lunch by a director.   The Hollywood personality made a concerted effort to flatter and entertain the white belt critic.   The rookie realized he was being played for a more enthusiastic review and drew a line in the sand.   He adopted the philosophy:   "No more fraternizing with the enemy."Aye, lad, there's the rub.   Compromise your principles or starve.  

There's a new book out by Michael Streissguth, titled "Outlaw," that tells how Waylon, Willie, and Kris Kristofferson fought the music establishment in Nashville and won.  

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"The Rebel," by Albert Camus, intimates that if society (AKA the 1%) encounters a formidable challenge from a revolutionary, they foil the movement by granting the malcontents membership in the world's most exclusive club, know informally as "Fame and Fortune."   Hence the strange phenomenon of The Rolling Stones Inc.   It is much more difficult to knock The Establishment if you have become an integral part of it.

Pundits pounding the political beat face a similar dilemma.   They can either be shut out or owe favors to sources. 

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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)
 

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