Sunday, June 10, 2007

Surreal Stories: Paris and Kim

This post is not directly related to night photography. But it's so surreal that I can't avoid sharing it with everyone.

Look at the two photographs below, then answer the multiple choice question at the bottom of the page.

Question: Which of the following statements is true:

A. These two photographs were taken exactly 35 years apart (in other words, the second photograph was taken 35 years to the day after the first photograph).
B. Both photographs were taken by the same photographer.
C. Paris Hilton is a spoiled, rich brat.
D. All of the above.

The correct answer is "D". Answers "A", "B" and "C" are all true.

The first photograph of the Vietnamese girl Kim Truc running from her recently-napalmed village of Trang Bang, was taken on June 8, 1972 by Nick Ut. The second photograph of Paris Hilton being taken back to jail (after her lawyer promised her she'd be free after only four days), was taken June 8, 2007, by Nick Ut exactly 35 years later (more details)

I don't blame Nick Ut for becoming a paparazzi in order to support himself. After all, he has probably made more money from the Paris photo than he made from the photo of Kim Phuc in the previous 35 years. But there's something ironic about the fact that the photographer of one of America's most iconic Vietnam-era photographs is now shooting fluff. On the other hand, what else can he do these days? The government doesn't allow real war photography in Iraq or Afghanistan, anymore. After all, look what happened in Vietnam when they let all those photographers loose.

And more from the irony department: this morning, Michael Daniel posted the following comment on the American Photo Magazine Blog:

Speaking of pornography, given today's paranoia about publishing images of naked children, not one chance in hell would the Vietnam image be published today, were it new.

P.S. You can see a video of the bombing of Kim Phuc's village here. And if you're wondering what ever happened to Kim Phuc, she is now married, has two children, and lives in Ontario with two chil


Blogger Jon said...

It tells us a little about what we value as a culture.

Fascinating. I never knew it was taken by the same photographer.

Great entry, yet sort of depressing for us photographers...

7:19 PM  

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