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Submitted by Tin Aquino on
Great post, Tony. Mediated representations are always, always tricky especially when dealing with oft-disadvantaged identities (multicultural identities and the poor, for instance). Other than the gut-level issue of aesthetics, there is the more contextual quandary of what makes a tasteful and ethical--and not just honest--portrayal of these identities in a way that is both fair to the subject and the would-be audience (donor agencies or not). After all, overexposure and too-played-out representations of suffering in the media has been known to lead to compassion fatigue (Moeller, 1999). While images of suffering mean to call on the "human face" of ideas such as poverty and injustice, these very images can have extremely problematic consequences: human strife is whittled down to a spectacle that often furthers cultural and economic divides when they should be bridging them. However, as visual representations can be an extremely effective way of communicating, we really cannot do away with them. Again with the trickiness, as there are no rules set in stone--one can only approximate the ideal of a just and compelling representation.