Well, first for the image, which apparently won the photographer a Pulitzer in '94.
Startling image, no doubt. I mean, especially when you read the message at the bottom. It reads as follows:
"The PHOTO in the mail is the "Pulitzer prize" winning photo taken in 1994 during the Sudan famine. The picture depicts a famine stricken child crawling towards an United Nations food camp, located a kilometer away.
The vulture is waiting for the child to die so that it can eat it. This picture shocked the whole world. No one knows what happened to the child, including the photographer, Kevin Carter, who left the place as soon as the photograph was taken.
Three months later he committed suicide due to depression."
So, there you have it. A startling photograph taken by a man who later took his own life because he couldn't handle the reality that presented itself to him. I think I got this in the mail before, perhaps the first time it made it's rounds around the 'email circuit' a couple of years ago. I can't remember what I thought about it then, but getting it again this morning I was a little disgusted, not by the picture, but some events surrounding the picture. Wait, before I forget, there was a further bit of text that accompanied this picture. Apparently, it's Kevin Carter's diary entry that was found after his demise. Here's the text:
"Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that He will protect this little boy, guide and deliver him away from his misery. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests. I hope this picture will always serve as a reminder to us that how fortunate we are and that we must never ever take things for granted. Please don't break...keep on forwarding to our friends On this good day. Let's make a prayer for the suffering in anywhere any place around the globe and send this friendly reminder to others Think & look at this...when you complain about your food and the food we wasted daily........ "
And that's "all he had to say about that," in true Forrest Gump fashion. Alright, so I may being a bit harsh, but I'd like to have a couple of questions answered.
1) Did Kevin Carter think it more important to take a picture of the child with the vulture hovering in the background, than to try and take the child to the UN food camp that was a kilometre away?
2) Why did the photographer 'leave the area as soon as the picture was taken'?
3) Not to say anything or joke about the fact that he did take his own life, but how did he think that "ending it all" was going to help spread the word that one shouldn't waste one's food?
4) And didn't the diary entry sound a little like what one would hear from one's "mommy" at the dining table? And, has that ever worked? If you think it has then you OBVIOUSLY haven't read Calvin and Hobbes.
Well, there are my doubts. I'm hoping someone will have something to say about this. You know what this reminds me of? Looking at this picture it reminds me of the time when that monk immolated himself and the 'dude' behind the camera caught it all on tape. Or even the time when 'smartboy' seemed to have a camera 'on hand' to record the now infamous footage of Rodney King. Well, the first was a professional photographer, and the second an amateur, but none of them considered doing anything about the situation. Rodney King still got his ass kicked, for which he was dearly renumerated, and the monk BBQed to a crisp. But at least we have video of these events, right? Hahaha.
The most terrible thing for me is the whole "not in my backyard" mentality that grips people. It happens all the time. In fact, I do it too! Gasp. Whatever do I mean? Am I saying that I have video footage of racism in action, or an act of suicide as it happens? Nope. But I too try not to get involved and just ignore the 'incident'. For example, one morning I was walking past this temple on my way to catch a bus/auto to work. All of sudden, I heard a man shouting, and I turned to see an overheated traffic incident about to break out into a fight. Well, not really, but you know how road rage can get, right? The 'shouting' man had the driver of the other vehicle by the collar, and it looked like things would get violent...but I've rarely seen people actually plant a blow unless accompanied by their 'crew'. So, I did what I always do, just kept walking. I couldn't have been bothered to try and resolve anything because to me it was a case of people being idiotic, and that's never a good thing to try and get involved with. Trust me, idiocy + flaring temper = not a good time to try and explain ANYTHING logically. And it's not just people fighting, it could also be a car crash or a major accident. It's a very troubling sight in India, but more often than not, people are all too happy to stand around and watch without doing anything to help the situation. Why the hell is that? What do they get from 'spectating'? It's like their otherwise 'drab' lives suddenly found some meaning as they stand aside and watch another human being bleed to death. Why? It's one of the more frustrating sides of "human nature" for me. I've always believed that if you're not helping things, then you're part of the problem.
So, in the same way, how logical was it for Mr. Carter to photograph the child and then leave? Why didn't he actually wait around to see whether or not the child actually did perish, and whether or not the vulture did start picking on the child's emaciated body? What kind of a picture would that have made for? A half-eaten child with a flock of vultures hanging around...bloodied beaks and all. So, rather than make a promise to "never ever" waste food again perhaps we should ask ourselves how willing we are as individuals to go out there and put into effect a change we'd like to see in the world around us. I mean, is that not one of the purposes of this life we've been given?
In conclusion, the realization that this picture brought about, albeit in my head, was that people don't seem to apply the basic tenet of being there for other members of their species. Lives are lost in an instant. People make or break themselves and the world around them in a moment. The human will is so strong that it managed to keep the child moving towards the UN food camp regardless of the distance. The 'will' to survive urged him on until there was simply no way he could move forward. Another human being, not very far away, reached for his camera rather than the child, and won a Pulitzer Prize for the picture he took. Wow... Funny how the 'will' to survive will make us do such vastly different things, eh?