Decay

Exhibit 8.7

Stock Photography Review

A poorly chosen stock photo can give the impression of incompetence instead of the shallow, faceless reassurance you want to evoke in the viewer. As most stock photographers and models are unfamiliar with the scenarios they are supposed to play out–and, it seems, photography and modelling generally–it’s easy for errors (and worse) to creep their way into the pictures.

These “errors” tells us a great deal about the state of our nation and the consequences of our ineptitude.

For example, this doctor seems bemused at the fact that he’s repeatedly missed this woman’s hand cancer. As they stand slack-jawed, pondering her impending death, he offers no reassurances or hugs, only amazement at the fact that she not only has two right hands, but that one of those hands has rapidly metastasizing tumor which has extended like a sixth finger beyond the hand’s traditional boundaries.

She, on the other hand, always knew about the hand cancer–it was why she was referred to him–but just couldn’t bear to hurt his feelings by asking about it after their second appointment together. Now she’s just trying to peer past the sight of her undoing to see if there is a ring on his finger because there isn’t one on either of her two right hands.

Or maybe I’m just reading into it. Let’s look at this guy:

This is clearly a commentary on America’s nuclear vulnerability. This guy risked everything just to take his picture next to Reactor 7, his favorite. When he couldn’t get the shot he wanted with his hazard suit on, he shed it but kept his hard hat because he knows nothing about Reactor 7 except that he loves it so.

What may appear to be a “flavor savor” is actually the cancer spreading stylishly from his chin. This is exactly what happened to Howie Mandel.

Still, our science can save them:

They are either curing these people’s cancer or making them some rock candy so they don’t feel so bad about it. Based on the color, I’m betting rock candy.

And then there are these people who don’t even know they are standing right next to each other…or that they’re in love. This picture says sad things about the state of industry in our new service-oriented economy but it says great things about our romantic comedy industry. I see this one as Career Opportunities meets Disclosure. We’ll laugh, we’ll love, we’ll recession.

Tom sold all of his tools to buy that teal toolbox, but it didn’t matter, not even when they laughed, not even when Cindy left.

The worst part about the national malaise these photos illustrate is that even a sure-to-be-booming industry like crime is immune:

Look how sad and befuddled that poor, hooded robber is by the simple lock system of this Taurus. But a purse from Target! But a circa 2000 Nokia!

I bet he’ll stand there looking at it all day until he has to go home to his family who wait hungry for food and smack. It’s almost too sad for words. Almost.

At least the wage workers will get a holiday party at work:

No, no, that’s not right, that’s not right at all!

(I spent the better part of an hour trying to come up with a legitimate reason for that photo to exist. I’ve got nothing).

2 Comments / Posted in Decay, No good, Stock Photography

Exhibit 6.14

I’m not sure when The New Yorker got all smutty, but in addition to the topless photograph of Lee Miller in the most current issue, there have also been quite a few Playboy-esque comics featuring topless line drawings and some joke about sex recently. Also, a year or so ago, there was an entirely gratuitous nude picture of a show girl. You may think that have these moments catalogued a little too well, but it’s really just the shock of seeing a drawing that looks like a topless Mrs. Keane from Family Circus wedged into an article about Rudy Giuliani that makes me remember.

I mean, my grandmother subscribes to this magazine for god’s sake. If John Updike were alive, this would never be happening (or, actually, it would be happening a lot more often with much more depressing results).

We’re about six months away from David Remnick launching New Yorker Forum. I’m going to start submitting letters now just in case. I’ll just go ahead and address them to David Denby for now.

Comment / Posted in Davids, Decay, Updikes

Exhibit 5.19

Saw No Country for Old Men last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s nice to see the Coen brothers return to the harder edge of Blood Simple or even Miller’s Crossing. Oh, or The Man Who Wasn’t There, a great movie that I always forget about as, like its protagonist, it’s a very wispy feature.

After their last few movies relied at least partially on devices (DahKOtin accents, Southern accents, Clooney, etc.), No Country is a film completely without gimmick and even the color palette is a muted Texas dust and blue skies as opposed to something more flashy like O Brother‘s gold tones or Miller’s Crossing‘s autumnal roads. Fast, straight-forward, and surprising, it’s one of those movies I always hope to see when I go to the theater. Usually I’m seeing Enchanted. I mean, that’s fine too.

Best film of the year? Probably, though I had a singular appreciation for Zodiac which, incidentally, hits a lot of the same notes of societal entropy expressed by one, unstoppable man. The big difference is that Zodiac‘s San Francisco becomes a mad house of fear and paranoia while in No Country the evil, if that’s what it is, walks empty streets. It’s an interesting contrast especially since Fincher’s movie is so meticulous while the Coens’ is murky and grim. I prefer the No Country for a lot of reasons–it’s better, for one; every interior shot looked like someplace I’d been as a kid in Nebraska, for another–but I just think it’s interesting that so many movies this year seem to be about shocking events serving as markers of moral decay in the face of modernity. I haven’t seen all of these, but in addition to No Country and Zodiac there is The Assassination of Jesse James…, Gone Baby Gone, Into the Wild, Sweeney Todd, and Dan in Real Life. Well, maybe not that last one.

And, seriously, Josh Brolin. Who knew?

1 Comment / Posted in Coens, Decay, Movies