Tuesday, 2 February 2010

When will the absurdity end?

The nipple is bringing down civilisation as we know it...

There's been a lot said (and more acted upon) concerning photography and questions of decency and/or privacy. This has resulted in various social websites such as Facebook to panic at the merest whiff of controversy. It appears that if someone happens along to a photo that shows nudity and complains, the hounds of 'decency' are let loose, regardless of whether the image is actually indecent or offensive. It's now got so stupid that even the BBC has to remove Old Master paintings from the screen lest the sight of painted flesh offends anyone... not that anyone would. This is typical of a new 'proactive' approach that beggers belief. To remove a Renaissance painting (or blur its content) in a programme about art in the off chance that some moron might complain of pornography informs me that the world has indeed gone mad.

And what of privacy?

I grew up admiring the urban photographs of buildings and people. The powerful images reflecting real life did much to inform me of the human condition and my place within it. But since the great-and-holy-Diana-whom-nothing-but-praise-be-said-in-hushed-tones complained of photographers using images she hadn't first vetted, it seems that all and sundry are over-reacting to the man (or woman) with a camera. As if taking a shot of a street that may have a child somewhere therein would magically feed paedophiles up and down the globe. Exactly how can a home video of a nativity play threaten the children? And this mentally is extended to adults... "I appear in a landscape photograph... pay me".

Now I'm not talking about models, advertising etc., but rather I'm referring to street photography capturing moments in time. I myself was bemused one day when I worked in the City to find myself unexpectedly elevated to celebrity. Trying to buy a sandwich, or a magazine etc. I found people staring and pointing. Many strangers actually approached me to ask how my 'problem' was doing. As it turns out, the night before there had been a TV documentary about male erection problems. This programme had plenty of statistics throughout, which were displayed on top of a film of commuters crossing London Bridge. As the people walked to camera, the scene froze and the stats appeared.

As it happened, I always wore a striking coat to work, and the filmmakers obviously felt that my image would be great to freeze on as the background. So there I was, all through the programme... freeze on me and then talk about erectile dysfunction.

Now I don't have a problem with this (people film the London Bridge commuters every day) as it was just an anonymous group of people serving as background. It wasn't about me, so why would anyone else in my position feel that they had a right to be paid huge sums in compensation? If I lived in the US... NY to be precise... then at least I would find that some sanity still prevailed, and that street scene photographers were protected from being sued (see Nussenzweig v. DiCorcia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for more info). No-one seems to complain of being captured on CCTV or video... but someone with a camera.... oh no!

One day I hope to wake up and find that the life I'm living is just one big nightmare.