The photo that hides the forest

Ou comment les médias de masse nous aident à ne pas comprendre

dead child on the sand whose sight is appalling to us. Shock photo that follows the previous ones and precedes the next ones, and all those that will not be taken or will not be published. Have you seen the photo, the one that hides all the dead that our dying world generates? It is the symbol of the media show. 
Always describe the facts as epiphenomena, manifestations of a dysfunction that has little to do with the global model that for decades now has governed our societies and the way of life that goes with it: that of the money king. This is the unspoken rule: pretend that this is not what brings everything else.
If some journalists, on the morning of September 3, 2015, justify the publication of a photo of a dead child lying on the sand, it is not to most often come to insinuate their courage and responsibility —  » Take ours [responsabilités], is to do our job: inform, explain, decipher, denounce. And, this morning, publish this photo  » (Le Soir, 3/09/15) -, we know that it will not change anything. The retrospective of these  » shocking photos of the last years « , which accompanies the cliché of the day in some media on September 3, brings besides in filigree the proof that their upsetting images, adjoining most often an advertisement for a bank or soda, serve little the real change. Has the photo of a starving Ethiopian girl being covetously ogled by a vulture, cruelly revealing her near future, reduced world hunger and the organized plundering by transnationals?


The belief maintained, unceasingly, in this  » drama of too much, the drama that finally awakens consciences « , bathes us in this reassuring illusion, as if each time it was  » the last one « : the last shooting, the last wrecked body, the last political malpractice, the last homeless person who died of cold… Are you kidding? Do you really think that what they are saying comes from a depth of humanity, or from a com’ strategy marked by marketing? The pictures of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, of those who died on April 24, 2013 while women, men and children were assembling our next summer sale purchases, have they changed anything about the policies of Zara, H&M and other multinationals that get rich on the slavery of a people whose situation is only the fruit of a global system that generates and uses inequalities to inflate the profit of a few? Did they motivate the authorities to ban the opening of a Primark(1) on Rue Neuve, and the crowd to gather hysterically the first day of its opening?

We are asked to be moved, we are sold sadness, decontextualized, the industrialists, their political acolytes and their media relays inviting us before and after to remember that « to boost growth we must buy ». What are the results of this summer’s sales, as all the media sing in chorus every year? Already preparing their litanies on the next winter advertisements…
But how could we have thought that a photo, however atrocious, would change the state of the world? Installed in a dictatorship of the instantaneous, deprived of the essential information to the comprehension, we live the emotional shock without being able to make anything of it; the image, whatever it is, does not thus take part in the reversal of the system which generates it but in its confirmation. Once replaced by another, in a continuous flow of information, it is forgotten; and if it is not immediately forgotten, it will serve the Western propaganda as well as to further justify the deployment of weapons and military in Syria against the one that the media most often present as the one and only responsible for the war. And the photo, which does not  » arouse horror « , as some journalists say, but only illustrates it, still shows this hierarchy of suffering: a child, more than an adult, forgetting too often that the adult was a child and that the child will become an adult… selective compassion. Would this little one have lived, shattered by a life path made of misery and humiliation, would we have been so compassionate if he had felt, in all logic, « the hatred of the West » once he became an adult?
Every day, we are like schoolchildren who are told that poor people are dying in trucks, on the road, in the sea…, in search of better living conditions: ours… The teacher explains, smoothes out the reality and, paradoxically, confirms us in our choices and in our feeling of superiority. For he forgets to state the debacle of our capitalist societies, to say that the edifice is collapsing while the leaders stubbornly continue along the same path that has led us to where we are. Those whose affected words are relayed by the media, the same ones who bombed and destroyed Libya and pretend to be surprised at the deaths fleeing the misery of which they were also the great architects. They promise, in front of the cameras, the change; they come out of their silence when the number of corpses is worth it: communication obliges… The tomb of the Mediterranean, when it snatches in one and the same blow almost a thousand lives, awakens the awareness of the eurocrats and other business politicians, who know when to seize the ‘com. Yet, every day, the Mediterranean, the Sahara, the barbed wire and walls of Ceuta and Mellila, the Israeli checkpoints, kill men whose history is the fruit of unequal secular relationships. Those who talk and gather in the halls of power have no intention of fighting injustice and making this world a more decent place.
Don’t you find it heavy this continuity that disguises itself behind the appearances of change? Don’t you think that the same thing is repeating itself and getting worse, letting us now perceive that their promises of change are only vows of permanence? Thus, the looting and wars that ravage these countries from which these men, women and children are fleeing will continue if there is not a stronger movement, a global protest in our Western countries that does not fit into the dominant thinking, but confronts it.
Meanwhile, the elites will do nothing. They will pretend that they do. The crime now is to continue to believe their lies. Please stop writing petitions, indignant letters and other complaints to politicians and business leaders: they don’t care. No change will come from there.
This little man stranded, not far from his mother and brother who suffered the same fate, appearing asleep on a beach more used to being trodden by Western tourists emigrating for the vacations, is not the  » He is asymbol, that of a people abandoned to its sad fate « , as if his death was not the result of Western policies; he embodies a predatory capitalist system in its death throes, whose deaths are not accidents but direct products of its intrinsic madness. Big difference: to think of abandonment is to generate good conscience and charity work, songs by multi-millionaire stars stating « I’m not the only one », « I’m the only one », « I’m the only one ». We are the world, we are the children « ; to think of the intrinsic harmfulness of wild liberalism and the master market is to turn our consciousness around, to see that the people are not abandoned, but that their situation is a direct result of what we are.
To hope is therefore to no longer believe the hucksters, those scoundrels who only worship change in continuity, those political ectoplasms that we must no longer fear to define by what they are. There is no reason to abandon the political fight, the one that is lived in the street, in a newspaper, in struggles against their big useless projects and their false solutions.
Without real changes, the front pages of the mainstream media, with their deaths and photos, are already written. Let’s face it.
Alexandre Penasse
Notes et références
  1. Laquelle a fait pénitence, ou plutôt a tenté d’améliorer son image, en versant « 14 millions de dollars d’aide et d’indemnités pour soutenir les victimes du désastre de l’immeuble du Rana Plaza ».

Espace membre

Member area