Images of Our Time

Images of Our Time


I know things must be going fairly well in the “imaging industry” as everywhere I look people are carrying around and using digital still and video cameras. Whether it’s a cam phone, an ultra compact slim cam or maybe some other hand held device that captures stills/vids. I know the public is out there, pointing and clicking their little brains away.

I know this mostly for all the wrong reasons. I know because I saw actor Michael Richards’ racial rantings on TV a while back, captured with a camphone at a comedy club in California. I know this because I recently saw three young men beat up a homeless man in Ohio and capture the “memory” using the video feature on a digital still camera. I know this because three young girls from Long Island gained national attention last month for the beating they administered to another classmate while a young boy captured the act with some kind of portable imaging device.

There’s a Web site, several actually, of images posted by men who walk around with compact, easy to conceal digital cameras/camphones and take pictures of unsuspecting women getting on and off buses, escalators, in dressing rooms – anywhere they can be caught in compromising situations.

Lots of folks in the media are tossing blame at sites like YouTube and many are even casting dispersions at the technology that enables consumers to deceptively capture this madness. But are these sites and this technology simply showing us what’s going on in towns and villages across the country?

While you walk the show floor at this year’s PMA you will undoubtedly see lots of images of smiling, happy families vacationing or celebrating special occasions. You’ll definitely see lots of adorable little babies – this industry loves babies. You’ll also see lots of pictures of beautiful people simply having a good time in front of a camera lens – in very bold and vibrant colors.

But next time you have a free moment, check out a site like YouTube and type in “girl fights” and you’ll have the opportunity to view over 11,000 short video clips on this delightful subject. The aforementioned clip from Long Island will make your stomach churn.

Check out some of the images that are posted daily on MySpace or Friendster and see digital imaging technology in action from some of your sons’ and daughters’ online “friends”. Trust me, you won’t be inviting many of them over for dinner any time soon.

I call attention to this rather somber subject only because I can’t seem to get away from it. Our national media outlets are now taking as many story leads from the camera-wielding general public as they are from their “on location” reporters. There’s a reason Time magazine picked “You” as their Person of the Year. “You” made lots of “News” last year – with their tiny little digicams and video devices. “You” is scooping everyone lately. Quite frankly, I think maybe “You” needs another hobby.

While some of this is great stuff – clips of dramatic rescues or people nailed accepting bribes and such, much of it is just disturbing.

I’m not going to play the blame game in this piece – this isn’t the space within which to do that. What I will say is, something is seriously wrong here and it needs to be fixed and a lens cloth and a bottle of cleaning fluid aren’t going to get it done.

Michael McEnaney