An Unnecessary Role

embracing false choices

Archive for the ‘9/11’ Category

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Young people chat as the World Trade Centre smokes in the background

Ten years on, this is becoming one of the iconic photographs of 9/11, yet its history is strange and tortuous. Hoepker, a senior figure in the renowned Magnum photographers’ co-operative, chose not to publish it in 2001 and to exclude it from a book of Magnum pictures of that horribly unequalled day. Only in 2006, on the fifth anniversary of the attacks, did it appear in a book, and then it caused instant controversy. The critic and columnist Frank Rich wrote about it in the New York Times. He saw in this undeniably troubling picture an allegory of America’s failure to learn any deep lessons from that tragic day, to change or reform as a nation: “The young people in Mr Hoepker’s photo aren’t necessarily callous. They’re just American.”

Whether or not the people in the picture are callous (and what more would Rich have them do? Rent their hipster garments and weep over their floating bicycle?), how much more callous is it to suggest that the primary lesson to be drawn from 9/11 is that America must “change or reform as a nation”?

If that is the interpretation we are supposed to take from this picture then I guess that’s probably the reason the Guardian insists against all reasonable evidence that the iconic image of 9/11 is a photograph hardly anyone knows or remembers.

Anyway, someone remind me never to read the Guardian.


Written by samelliot

September 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Posted in 9/11, Guardian