Monday, January 02, 2006

Photo Captions of the Year

Check out photos 7, 8, and 14 in Le Monde's photos of the year album (cover under number 21 — FYI, here are their new year's photos).

The first caption informs us that "Iraq is undergoing "a particularly deadly spring". This is typical MSM talk — akin to the "insecurity", the "chaos", and the "massacres", all of which suggest they were brought on by (Bush's) war and completely oblivious of the fact that those expressions described Iraq just as well — even better, in fact — in "peacetime" under Saddam Hussein. (The September 19 caption for a second photo album — 2005 in 100 dates — informs us that during his trials, "the former president … shows himself, during the three-hour court appearance, to be both attentive anc combative.")

In a three-sentence paragraph devoted to the "no" in the EU constitution referendum, the second caption devotes one whole sentence (one third of the caption) to informing us, with total seriousness, that after the "non", "the 25 members decide to lengthen the schedule for ratifying the project." Who are "independent" daily reporters Jacques Buob and Alain Frachon, after all, to put into question the decisions of their nation's and their continent's élite? (See also the resentful tone, shifting at least part of the blame to the Brits, in the June 1 and 6 captions of the 100 dates album of the year.)

Incidentally, L'Équipe's accusations against Lance Armstrong are taken as givens in several French photos of the year albums, including this one's July 24 caption. The Le Monde 2 album put it this way, devoting two sentences (and two thirds of the caption — not online) to the accusations: "The domination without equal of his team, the Discovery Channel Team … brings up suspicion about doping again. On August 23, the daily L'Équipe reveals that the American champion is said to have taken [aurait utilisé] EPOs during the 1999 Tour."

And thus the left (notably the MSM) works: the passive tense obliviating the need for the identification of any specific accusers (thus giving the accusation an objective aura). And the bringing up of rumors, which will continue to be repeated with more or less definite emphasis in descriptions of the target in the future, ensuring at least a relative lack of credibility of same (viz. the "lies" of Dubya in the Iraq war).

The third caption informs us that after the onslaught of hurricane Katrina on September 1 (2005), "the United States discover, stupefied, their vulnerability". This is a total rehash of the September 11 (2001) descriptions — again, using (abstract) nations as having emotions and suggesting, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, that Americans as a whole are a smug, cosseted, arrogant people, oblivious to nature, to disaster, to the rest of the world… (Paule Zapatka took this one on only four days after the attacks.) Using the same photo on August 29 (!), the second photo album explains to its readers that "Katrina points out the weaknesses of American society: poverty, absence of the state, and racism", adding for good measure that "dozens of countries, including Cuba and Venezuela, have proposed aid to the United States."

Nothing on the oil-for-food scandal.

Not a single photo.

Not a single word.

Not even in the 2005 in 100 dates album.


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