Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

Although the content of the book was interesting, it was like pulling teeth to finish the mere 125 pages. I have never been a history buff and so a lot of the references were either confusing or not interesting to me. Her analysis, however, was very interesting. It makes you question everything you see pretty much. A photograph, although it can capture an intense war moment, can also have been posed. When we think of photograph's, we think of a moment in time that is captured, but Sontag makes the reader question the validity of a photo we may encounter. But at the same token, a photograph can be very effective in sending a message, whether showing war in a positive light or a negative. Similar to the media, photographs can be biased; the photographer chooses what to take pictures of, and also what they don't want to show. It was also interesting that Sontag discusses the idea of controlling what is shown to the public, and what is not. I feel that it is quite unfair to demand such a thing; America is meant to be a democracy and freedom one of our main attributes. People should be able to decide what they view and what they view with discretion. On the other hand, I agree with the notion of withholding certain photographs if a family member or loved one is shown in a demeaning way. But overall I feel that photographs are important in giving "safe" people a glimpse of the realities of war. It is important for the American people to be informed. But as Sontag states, how much do we need to see in order to do something about it? That's the funny thing, war is like a car crash, you can't help but look, yet you do nothing about it.

No comments: