Because it is my avocation to get mad and start arguments, when I came upon a photo of a woman sticking a needle in her arm, on tumblr, I wrote to the blogger and politely complained. I said the picture could be a trigger for recovering addicts, and that addiction should not be romanticized. She replied politely that she was against censorhip and couldn’t be responsible for triggers. I wrote to the blogger from whom she’d reblogged the photo. She replied politely too, but maintained that the photo was “social commentary.”
Both bloggers pointed out that heroin addiction is a part of life and that you can’t just show nice things. Both denied that the artful picture of an attractive woman shooting dope was in any way romanticizing addiction.
But wait! The “part of life” argument is kind of fatuous. Vomit, amputation, and car accidents are part of life. All kinds of distressing things are part of life but you don’t see many arty picture of them. The image of an addict shooting up is a powerful one that has been around for a long time, and it doesn’t show the Part of Life that comes after it: The abscesses, the arrests, the death, the funeral, the sobbing friends.
I resent these images, because they don’t tell the truth. They are a siren song to young people, just as cigarette ads once were.
I know it’s too much to ask that everyone stop admiring nice black and white photos of addicts shooting dope. But I’d at least like everyone to admit that these images are romantic. They depict a “transgressive” act, nicely lit and composed, that represents mavericky behavior…even rock and roll behavior, one might say. OF COURSE it is romanticizing an illness that in real life is tragic, sordid, cruel and lamentable on every level!
It’s not art, any more than the images of bottled fetuses used by anti-choice groups is art. It’s the perpetuation of a stupid and dangerous myth. Or maybe it is art, but it’s political, even if one insists otherwise.
I am not in favor of censorship. But I post images selectively.
What are your thoughts?