The Hug (HUM425/HUM415)

Bret Barnum, Devonte Hart

This image was made at a rally in Portland, Oregon by Johnny Nguyen, published in the Oregonian, and rapidly disseminated via “social” media (isn’t all media inherently social?). The apparent message of the image is immediately accessible given adequate context: a single human gesture can bridge the racial divide. But of course, signification is never so simple. For Jonathan Jones, the image is deeply dishonest:

A picture does not have to be staged to be a lie. It just has to be massively unrepresentative of the wider facts and enthusiastically promoted to iconic status in a way that obscures those facts.

Take a look and see what you think:

2 thoughts on “The Hug (HUM425/HUM415)

  1. N. Johnson

    “isn’t all media inherently social?”
    Can there be such a thing as private media? Or media which functions not to the mass, public or social setting? While it is true that, by definition, communication is a result of being inherently “social” due to the representation of ideas by culture and language. What, then, is confidential or private information? Can a classified report still be called social media? Depends if it is brought to the surface for the masses. Perhaps it is the transparency and accessibility of media that makes it so painstakingly obvious that we are omitted from thinking anything otherwise.

    This image and how it is framed is not only a contradiction to the extremities of Black VS White powers, it creates a gray space. The world is a free for all. Whose side is anyone even on? Outside appearances won’t limit individual’s role in social conflicts, but will continue to agitate the playing field with seeming contradicting, “dishonest” and complex representations… further damning our social order. Tee-Hee.


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