Monday, September 8, 2008

International politics of the image

Some of you are aware of how Iran faked the pics of its missile test launch recently. It does, however, raise some interesting questions about the role of media in crafting arguments in international relations and indeed, justifying policy reactions. This incident also touches upon continued debates about the viability of visual argumentation in general.

Here's the article.


Kristina said...

What I found interesting when reading about the response to the faked pictures of Iran ’s missile test launch was that the media was focusing on not one but two audiences: the international community and the Iranian nationals. The media targeting the international community first focused on conveying a threat and only after the truth came out, it truned to describing the faked pictures as worthy of ridicule. The local media targeting the Iranian nations seemed to have originally focused on trying to support the Iranian government in alleviating domestic doubts about the power/ability of Iran to fight back if a full-scale confrontation were to arise. After the truth about the fake pictures came out, the local media seemed to have join in the West in ridiculing the pictures. This served (in my mind) as a means to lighten the situation and alleviate any potential humiliation through humor. When it comes to the viability of visual argumentation in general, this situation serves as an excellent example of how the media has an immense influence over the international community’s everyday mindset. This example should also serve as a warning to all that what one reads or sees in the media is not always 100% true or unbiased and that the real facts sometimes appear only after much “media searching” by the reader. This “media searching” consists of taking bits and pieces from sometimes several media sources to piece to together an accurate portrayal of the situation.

Kate said...

Playing with this authentic/fake idea for a little bit: does a photo/media have to be authentic in order to make a statement? I don't know if anyone's ever read Henry Jenkin's Convergence Culture, but he makes a point about the power of video and image mash-ups (where someone takes a collection of images/videos to create a new video - remember JibJab from the 2004 election?) - taking things and purposely making them fake has an effect as satire or as a creative way of supporting a political candidate.

Case in point: Obama singing "Never gonna give you up" on the Jumbotron at the RNC convention. It's obviously not real - in fact the whole point is that it's patently not real - yet people in the comments are quick to denounce it fake (duh?). But it is kind of a creative way of projecting that Obama image - young, suave, committed. Also, it's hilarious.