On Tuesday's class, professor Retzinger showed many photos, some of which are considered of great importance in the history. I want to talk a little about the following picture.
I wrote a paper about this photo last semester, which was the final essay for the course "visual communication" in my home university. This photo is well known for it, to some extent, changed American's attitude to Vietnam War, thus, changed the history. The photo won the Pulitzer Prize for the photographer Eddie Adams. However, Eddie Adams disliked, even hated this photo, according to his son, though it was this photo that brought his fame and wealth.
The photo shows the moment when a police chief General shot a Viet Cong. However, many facts are left out by this picture. The communist being shot dead in the photo was a murderer who just killed a soldier and his whole family - his wife and six children. But in the picture, the General was the murder, while the Viet Cong was the victim . This photo made the General suffered throughout the rest of his life. For the photo is so well known, the General was called "killer" wherever he went.
The photographer once wrote: The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. ... What the photograph didn't say was, "What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?"("There Are Tears in My Eyes - Eddie Adams & the Most Famous Photo of the Vietnam War", by Jonah Goldberg 1999)
With this example, I want to illustrate that images do have power, but such power not always leads us to the right direction. As argued by DeLuca and Peeples, the TV screen has been recognized as "the contemporary shape of the public sphere" and "the image event designed for mass media dissemination as an important contemporary form of citizen participation".(126) However, the opinion, and sometimes even the action, based on the images shown on public screen can be wrong. Here is a picture well illustrates such possibility.
So in the time of "Public Screen", it's vital for us to think twice about whatever we see on screens. Sometimes, seeing is not believing. Without such awareness, our good will to improve the situation may lead to negative result.