Visual Analysis: My Lai Massacre

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My Lai This photograph was taken from a high angle, portraying the subjects as powerless, emphasizing the obvious, as they are all dead. Everyone in the photo is horizontal, a rarity as people are typically represented vertically. The tangle of bodies creates confusion. Confusion for the viewer to visually untangle the horror that they are looking at and also representing the confusion that the people must have experienced as they were being gunned down. The focal point of this photo is a baby’s rear, drawing attention to the innocent children who were killed in the massacre. In the photograph, the composition continues down the road where there are more bodies scattered about. When the frame cuts off the road, the viewer is only…show more content…
All of the photos with the exception of the My Lai Massacre photo conveyed emotions through the characters in the photos. In the Kent State photo the girl clearly conveys emotion as she cries out in anguish. The little girl who is running naked in the napalm photo demonstrates fear, panic, and pain. The exception of this rule is the photo of the My Lai Massacre, but only because all of the figures in the photograph are lying dead and no longer able to convey emotions. The only emotions that they can communicate are the ones that the viewer can imagine they were feeling in the mo- ments before their deaths. The semiotic analysis of these photos indicated that they would ignite strong emotional responses by the viewer. Some of the common characteristics that these photos show are death, pain, and suffering. The common viewer would experience strong negative reactions to seeing all of these photos, which is why Perlmutter deemed them “icons of…show more content…
First, as reports or images associated with extreme conflict and matters of life and death, they tend to draw intense public attention, and potentially influence public opinion. Second, as high-stakes artifacts of modern news reporting, they highlight the application of pro- fessional norms and practices to the presentation of highly charged content. Notions of objectivity and balance, reliance on official sources and press releases, access to theaters of action, collaborations with subjects and beliefs in photo-realism and documentary recording are all issues that are tested by the results of wartime reporting and image-making. Third, they inevitably reflect cultural perspectives and reproduce traditions of cultural representation. When applied to the representation of conflicts, such perspectives frequently invoke notions of ethnic identity and nationalist mythology, thereby highlighting important historical issues of national formation, cultural bias, and international and intercultural relations. Finally, the nature of war reporting and image- making reveals much concerning the influence of politics and social authority on media representations: the nature of government/press relationships, the role of political con- sensus and dissent in steering media agendas, the filtering and fixing of images as his- torical evidence, and the social establishment of photographs as cultural icons,

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