Link

Final Project for MCOM 220

Final Project for MCOM 220

Egypt’s “Facebook” Revolution

Social media played an active role in the Egyptian revolution of January 25th 2011, but not on its own. With the help of a few factors, and other traditional media, the Egyptian revolution was possible. Inherent social troubles, tyranny from the top and political and economic dissatisfactions from below-  are the major reasons of protests all-encompassing the Arab world (Ghannam, 2011). In the Egyptian case, the 30 year rule of former president Mubarak, the fact that he was planning to pass on presidency to his son and the success of the Tunisian revolution triggered dissatisfaction among Egyptians (Abdel Meguid, Al Banna, Korayem & Salah El Din, 2011). These factors needed support from social media in order to help disseminate news and events. It is hard to say that Egypt’s revolution was a “facebook revolution”, revolutions have happened throughout history, before any invention was even available (Dajani, 2012). This Egyptian revolution had been in the making for decades, no social media or internet interfered. Facebook served as a “revolutions operations room” where the organizing took place (Mubarak, 2011). It helped systematize people’s details such as where and how to gather exactly. The convergence of social media, satellite networks and traditional media proved crucial to the diffusion of the protestor’s messages (Ghannam 2011). But facebook alone cannot produce a revolution, all social media combined cannot do that. Social media can play a major role in spreading information and events, in supplying forums to communicate and exchange thoughts and in spreading certain ideas, all of which can be of great support to revolutions in terms of time.    

The video is an abbreviation of the ideas stated above. I added a few images and videos that are correlated and speak out about Facebook and its relation to the Egyptian Revolution. The music I used in the video is composed and played by a close friend of mine. He composed this piece specifically for the Egyptian revolution and dedicated it to the Egyptian people.

YouTube Link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRWL4dhnvkA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Smith, C. (2011, 05 25). Egyptian father names baby ‘facebook’. The Huffington Post.  Retrieved from

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/21/baby-named-facebook-egypt_n_825934.html

Trueba, F. (Photographer). (2011, 02 6). The year in media | social media and Egypt’s revolution. CNN. Retrieved from

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/the-year-in-media-social-media-and-egypts-revolution/?_r=0

Yolyz, M. (2011, 04 22). The role of facebook & twitter in the Egyptian revolution. Whispers of the seeker. Retrieved from http://lilyroseyolyz.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-role-of-facebooktwitter-in-the-egyptian-revolution/

Zimmer, B. (2011, 02 11). Playing with language, Egyptian style. Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus. Retrieved from

http://s-ak.buzzfed.com/static/enhanced/terminal01/2011/1/31/13/enhanced-buzz-18792-1296498864-21.jpg

Vasco, J. (Photographer). (2011, 02 13). Exactly what role did social media play in the Egyptian revolution? The We First Blog. Retrieved from http://simonmainwaring.com/facebook/exactly-what-role-did-social-media-play-in-the-egyptian-revolution/

Smith, C. (2011, 02 11). Egypt’s facebook revolution: Wael Ghonim thanks the social network. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/11/egypt-facebook-revolution-wael-ghonim_n_822078.html

Deghati, M. (Photographer). (2011). The revolutionary force of facebook and twitter. Nieman Reports. Retrieved from

http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102681/The-Revolutionary-Force-of-Facebook-and-Twitter.aspx

Chapatte, P. (Photographer). (2011). Facebook revolution in Egypt: pictures & cartoons. Reface.me. Retrieved from

http://reface.me/news/facebook-revolution-egypt/

Clement, G. (Photographer). (2011). Facebook revolution in Egypt: pictures & cartoons. Reface.me. Retrieved from

http://reface.me/news/facebook-revolution-egypt/

On not debating whether Twitter causes revolutions or not. Tactical Technology Collective. Retrieved from

https://informationactivism.org/en/not-debating-whether-twitter-causes-revolutions-or-not

(2011, 02 21). To celebrate revolution, Egyptian names baby ‘facebook’. Fox News. Retrieved from

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2011/02/21/celebrate-revolution-egyptian-names-baby-girl-facebook/

Mitchell, J. (Photographer). (2012, 01 25). Egyptians mark first anniversary of their revolution. Time World. Retrieved from

http://world.time.com/2012/01/25/egyptians-mark-first-anniversary-of-their-revolution/

(2011, 01 27). Egyptian authorities block facebook and twitter again Jan#25. Arab Crunch. Retrieved from

http://arabcrunch.com/2011/01/breaking-egyptian-authorities-block-facebook-and-twitter-again-jan25.html

Amar, P. (2011, 02 18). Egypt: Much more than a `facebook revolution’. Retrieved from

http://links.org.au/node/2169

Arnold, B.(Photographer). (2011). Facebook revolution in Egypt: pictures & cartoons. Reface.me. Retrieved from

http://reface.me/news/facebook-revolution-egypt/

Brown, J. (2011, February 14). Debate continues over social media’s role in Egypt’s revolution. [YouTube]. PBSO News Hour. Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juWvuNEZx1A

Ghonim, W. (2011, February 9). CNN official interview: Egyptian activist, Wael Ghonim “welcome to Egypt revolution 2.0” [YouTube]. CNN. Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHAMzARBJgw

Kaddoura, N. (2011, February 11). . إهداء مني إلى شعب مصر العظيم – نور الله قدورة[YouTube]. music. Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcKDZeGgHF4&feature=youtu.be

Mubarak, A. (2011, 04 18). Two million Egyptians joined facebook since the revolution . Egypt Independent. Retrieved from

http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/two-million-egyptians-joined-facebook-revolution

Report: Egyptian dad names child ‘facebook’. (2011, 02 21). CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/02/21/egypt.child.facebook/index.html?iref=allsearch

Preston, J. (2011, 12 21). The year in media | social media and Egypt’s revolution. The New York Times. Retrieved from

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/the-year-in-media-social-media-and-egypts-revolution/?_r=0

Harrod, A. (2013, 10 04). Understanding Egypt’s second revolution. Front Page Mag, Retrieved from

http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/andrew-harrod/understanding-egypts-second-revolution/

Crovitz, L. (n.d.). Egypt’s revolution by social media. (American University of Cairo). Retrieved from

http://www.aucegypt.edu/sitecollectiondocuments/wsj.pdf

Abdel Meguid, N., Al Banna, S., Korayem, R., & Salah El Din, H. (2011). The economic causes of the Egyptian revolution. (American University in Cairo). Retrieved from https://dar.aucegypt.edu/bitstream/handle/10526/2710/Economic_Causes_of_the_Egyptian_Revolution.pdf?sequence=2

Ghannam, J. (2011, 02 18). In the middle east, this is not a facebook revolution. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

http://www.udel.edu/globalagenda/globalmedia/readings/Mideast-Not%20Facebook%20Revolution-WP-2-2011.pdf

El- Ghobashy, M. (2011). The praxis of the egyptian revolution. Middle East Report. Retrieved from

http://www.merip.org/mer/mer258/praxis-egyptian-revolution

Dajani, N. (2012). Technology cannot a revolution make: Nas-book not facebook. Department of Media Studies, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. Retrieved from

 http://www.arabmediasociety.com/?article=782

Eltantawi, N., & Wiest J. (2011). Social media in the Egyptian revolution:

reconsidering resource mobilization theory. International Journal of Communication, 1932–8036/2011FEA1207. Retrieved from

http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/viewFile/1242/597

Iskander, E. (2011) Connecting the national and the virtual: can Facebook activism

remain relevant after Egypt’s January 25 uprising? International journal of communication, 5 . pp.13-15. ISSN 1932-8036. Retrieved from

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/38165/1/Connecting_the_national_and_the_virtual_%28LSERO%29.pdf

Green, D. (2011, 02 17). What caused the revolution in Egypt?. The Guardian. Retrieved from

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/feb/17/what-caused-egyptian-revolution

Reflections: Egypt revolution. (2011, 02 16). Al Jazeera. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201121414422998168.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ML Critical Paper 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ML Critical Paper 3

 

MCOM 202

 

Farah Saffaf

 

American University of Beirut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

 

This paper critiques three advertisements and explains how men and women are depicted in them. Three images are chosen from an Arabic magazine, Lebanese “Mondanite”. The advertisements are varied in terms of race and gender, one includes two women (one black one white), the other a man and two women and the last one has two men. Each image is studied in terms of the product advertised and the utilization of stereotypes. A comparison is drawn between men and women and how they are represented in these ads. I briefly talk about the images’ backgrounds and how they affect the overall image and the connection between them. I emphasize on women’s exposed body parts shown in the first and second image. The conclusion stresses on the labeling of men and women and how stereotypes are still deployed in advertisements worldwide and compares and contrasts the three chosen advertisements.            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are we being followed?

 

            It is almost impossible to avoid media messages nowadays. Whatever activity we take on, whether watching TV, reading a magazine or taking a car ride, we are bombarded by media messages. Essentially, advertisements are supposed to market commodities, but sometimes the product is overlooked and women’s bodies and sex are advertised instead. In this paper we will show how advertisements almost always imbed stereotypes in their compositions especially when it comes to gender.

 

YSL: face illuminator?

 

            The Yves Saint Laurent cosmetics advertisement typically represents the prevalent message about beauty and perfection (see Appendix A). The product advertised is an illuminating foundation that supposedly brightens women’s skin to achieve perfection. We find two women in the image, one white and the other black. The advertisement focuses on the faces of the women and the perfection of their skin. The hair of the women is pulled to the back, and we can only see the upper part of their bodies. Some skin is shown, of course, to make the image more appealing. This is very common in advertising, as illustrated with model Roberta Mancino’s case, whom although a skydiver, also poses for advertisements like any ordinary model wearing revealing outfits (Vlahos, 2011).     

 

            There is a clear difference in the way the two women are standing and their facial expressions. The white woman looks confident, in control and is gazing at us assertively. On the other hand, the black woman is gazing at us while tilting her head in a manner that conveys sexuality. The tilting of her head and the way her eyes look express an aura of vulnerability and self-consciousness. The way this black woman is photographed in this image is very common in advertisements, especially in cosmetics. This black woman conveys a message to black women that they also can use this product, and that they would look as pretty as she does. 

 

            The background of the image contrasts with the perfection of the women’s skin, and the shadows are left on purpose. The golden coarse plate behind contradicts with the softness of the women’s skin, which is the main issue. The fact that the women’s shadows are kept gives a feeling of real photography. The reason behind that is that advertisers want women to believe that the image is completely natural, and that this is how they will exactly look if they use the product.

 

Salsa: low quality

 

            The Salsa image is stereotypical of how advertisements are made (see Appendix B). The product advertised is clothes, which is very important in any culture. The clothing and the image are targeting the young middle class. The mood of the ad is supposed to be fierce and colorful, encouraging men and women to wear their label in order to attract attention. 

 

            The image typically presents two women and a man in an artistically weak manner. The man looks confident, standing straight and gazing directly at us. The woman on the left looks confident as well, posing in a way very similar to the man’s, her hands in her pocket. This woman, of course, is wearing lots of makeup, and her hair is made up and wildly coiffed. On the other hand, the woman on the right is posing in a different way. She is standing in a weird position compared to the other two; her image also looks like it was added later, adding to the weakness. This woman is posing in a sexy way, a hand caressing her hair and the other holding her jacket. The way she is dressed and the amount of skin shown is sexually provocative. She is gazing at the camera in a sexual way.

 

            The advertisement takes place somewhere on the seaside, but there is something white in the background intruding. The image looks extremely made up and there seems to be something forgotten in the background. The image is supposed to look natural by using natural outdoor settings, but it does not. On the contrary, it looks very much fabricated, and the way the models are standing looks fake.

 

Hackett: British or awesome?

 

            This image evokes a sense of British chauvinism in the way the men are posing and the written material (see Appendix C). Hackett is a British brand for men’s clothing, the word “London” is written directly under the brand’s name. The colors worn by men are very bright, in contrast to the background made up of stones. The phrase “essentially British” suggests that the way these men are dressed and their pose is purely British. In other words, the ad suggests that men will feel confident and stylish and thus British if they wear Hackett. It conveys an image of superiority regarding the British culture and their sense of fashion.

 

            The men in the image are portrayed as very confident and strong. They are not looking directly at us; instead they are gazing at something else, probably women. The man on the right looks laid- back and casual, with his open jacket, rolled up sleeves and hat. The man on the left looks formal with his buttoned jacket and hands in his pocket. This is to show that this brand has all kinds of clothing, formal or casual.

 

            The background seems like an old building, in contrast to the attire of the men. The contrast of the background with the men’s clothing reaffirms the message that men can wear this brand in any setting, on all occasions. The image concentrates on what the men are wearing as opposed to the blurred background. The men look like two stylish friends going out to impress someone, particularly women.

 

What we have noticed

 

            In a nutshell, advertisements follow very similar guidelines. As we have noticed in the two ads with women, there are dominant stereotypes when creating ads. Women are almost always portrayed vulnerable or self conscious in ads. Women’s poses differ from men’s in that they contain sexual connotations. They usually don’t look directly at us, and when they do, they have this sultry look in their eyes that conveys defenselessness. In contrast, as we have seen, men either gaze directly at us or look in a different direction. However, they always seem in control, just like in the Hackett advertisement. They ooze an aura of complete confidence and self consciousness, very apparent in the way they pose. If an image contains both a man and a woman, as seen in the Salsa ad, the man looks stronger and in control as opposed to the women. Can we imagine an ad in which a man shies away from the camera striking a sexy pose, showing some skin or touching himself? Of course not.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Yves Saint Laurent (2013, March). “Le teint touche eclat”. Mondanite. 193. Retrieved from http://www.mondanite.net/magazine/38/march-2013-issue-193

 

 

 

Hackett (2013, May). “Essentially British”. Mondanite. 195. Retrieved from http://www.mondanite.net/magazine/40/may-2013-issue-195

 

 

 

Salsa (2013, May). Mondanite. 195. Retrieved from http://www.mondanite.net/magazine/40/may-2013-issue-195

 

  

 

Vlahos, J. (2011, M1rch 30). Raising her profile by showing some skin. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/fashion/31mancino.html?_r=2&src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Ffashion%2Findex.jsonp&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A, B and C

ImageImageImage

Diversity Matters? (ML Critical Paper 2)

 

 

 

 

ML Critical Paper 2

MCOM 202

Farah Saffaf

American University of Beirut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

This paper sheds some light on the music industry and on the fact that it is controlled by three major conglomerates. The consequences of this small number of owners and the implications it has on music is discussed thoroughly. I assess the content of the music and the likeliness of its sounds. This paper explains the trends and values of the music content and the way it differs from those in our society. Appendix A shows different CDs of different artists owned by the only three labels monopolizing the music industry. Appendix B shows calculations I made based on my music collection. The breaking of the regular retail price of the CD helps in analyzing the hidden agendas of major music labels, the reasons behind these conglomerates’ fixed principles. (Knopper 2011) The Arabic music industry is lightly discussed in light of the music collection I possess and the current status of Arabic music.      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observation

            We listen to music almost every day, whether intentionally or not. Not everybody knows that there are only three record companies behind all the music produced. Of course, these big three have numerous subdivisions of record labels, which also have subdivisions. Diversity of ownership is important for a diversity of products. Diversity is disappearing gradually with very similar images of artists/musicians and songs with parallel ideas. The record company behind any particular artist does not really matter to the artists’ fans. The fact that there is an image that an artist should follow to land a record deal is what really matters. My role in the music business is to understand how it works with only three conglomerates controlling it and to analyze whether it is affecting diversity.     

Reality

            Based on my music library, I have noticed that there is no diversity of owners. Most of the CDs I possess are produced by Sony music or its subdivision record company. This reality made me think seriously about the road artists have to follow to land a record deal with one of these companies, or else their music career will be doomed. It is really hard to resist the dominant music companies because they are the sole owners of the music industry. When we support an artist, we unintentionally support the record company behind him, by buying CDs or attending concerts. (Appendix A)

            I have noticed that major label recordings are interested in major artists who are already successful and produce hit music, while independent label recordings cater for new artists. The reason might be that major companies have a reputation to maintain; this reputation will be maintained by producing music for major artists such as Madonna. The content of music produced by major companies is directed at elite audiences. On the other hand, content of the independent label recording is aimed at young audiences with hip styles. (Appendix A)

            There are only negative aspects of having few major companies dominating most of the music industry, it is nearly impossible to find a positive aspect. On the other hand, concentration, conglomeration and integration are all negative aspects affecting the music. Concentration of ownership leads to the absence of competition in the music industry. A study conducted in Spain proves that pop music these days is too loud and sounds the same. The study described the level of creativity in music nowadays as “drought” (Wickham, 2012). This is attributed to the scarcity of music labels. The early merger of Sony and BMI, the recent one of EMI and Universal Music Group leads to further concentrating ownership. This leads to less innovation in music and to the increase in the price of music related products due to the fact that it is controlled by three conglomerates. (Nelson 2012). Conglomeration affects the content of music in that it regulates the music content to fit the agenda of the conglomerate and the music outlets it controls. Integration whether horizontal or vertical deeply controls the content of music by jointly supporting its company’s other operations.

            The Arabic music scene is a smaller version of that in the US. Arabic music is produced mostly by Rotana. Arab artists don’t really have a choice when it comes to production houses. Rotana is part of a media conglomerate owned by Saudi media tycoon, Al Waleed Ben Talal. The conglomerate which Rotana is part of is similar to the large conglomerates in the US. The difference is that this conglomerate is controlling a large part of the Arabic music all by itself.

           The trends that dominate my music collection all evolve around love, romance, relationships, sex or annihilation of women. Music lyrics concentrate on sex. Not only does sex sell, it also adds to the notion that it is acceptable to demean women in songs. These songs don’t necessarily communicate the values of the American society as a whole, but it could be a lucrative way to sell music. Values communicated to us through these songs are not at all acceptable in our culture, such as openness about sex, cohabitation, drugs and alcohol. Those values either do not exist in our culture or exist but are hidden in the dark. Learning more about the music industry through the readings and lectures make me understand the status quo of the music business. The trends or themes prevalent in the music industry are governed by the big three, which are chosen for financial or control purposes.

            Wal-Mart and all other leading vendors lost market leadership to downloadable music. People no longer go to music vendors to buy music CDs. Online music shops are much easier to buy music from. Downloadable music is much easier to access, on our phones, tablets, music devices or computers. In Appendix B, based on the Rolling Stone’s analysis of the cost of a CD, we notice that more than half of the price of a CD goes to distributing, labeling and retailing. (Knopper 2011) When downloading music, we do not pay these extra expenses which do not really affect the quality of music. Artists are gaining the price of their talent without the involvement of other factors. Consumers now can make use of a lot more of music downloads with the price of one CD.   

Conclusion

            The music industry in general is manipulated by three major players who control all its aspects and restrain its diversity in an effort to attain financial revenue. Music domination is controlling the image and content of the music produced. This lack of diversity attributes to sameness of music. The Arab countries are also following these footsteps, still in their early stages.          

           

 

 

 

 

             

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Wickham, C. (2012, July 26). Pop music too loud and all sounds the same: official. Reuters. Retrieved from

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/26/us-science-music-idUSBRE86P0R820120726

Nelson, D (2012, June 20). The Universal/EMI Merger: How Will It Specifically Impact The Music Consumer? Consumer Affairs. Retrieved from

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/music-industry

Knopper, S. (2011, Oct 25). The New Economics of the Music Industry. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-new-economics-of-the-music-industry-20111025

 

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A

Artist

Label

Major/ Independent

One Direction (Up All Night) Deluxe Version

2011 Simco Limited under exclusive license to Sony Music   Entertainment UK Limited

Independent of Sony Music

Bruno Mars Doo-Wops & Hooligans

2010 Atlantic Recording Corporation

Independent of Warner Musical Group

Jennifer Lopez This Is Me… Then

 

2002 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

Major

Kylie Minogue Aphrodite

 

2010 EMI Records Ltd

EMI became independent of Universal Records in 2011

Pitbull Planet Pit

2011 J Records, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

Independent of Sony Music Entertainment

The Wanted Chasing the Sun

2012 Global Talent Records Limited, under exclusive License to   Universal Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

Independent of Universal

Madonna Hard Candy

2008 Warner Bros. Records Inc. in the US

Major

Beyonce Dangerously in Love

2003 J Records, Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

Independent of Sony

Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) Deluxe Version

2013 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Independent of Sony

Elissa As3ad Wa7da

2012 Rotana

Major

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix B

I own around 26 CDs in total.

The approximate cost of my collection is 15.99*26= $415.7

Musician’s Union

$4.42

Publishing Royalties

$21.32

Packaging/ Manufacturing

$20.8

Retail Profit

$20.8

Distribution

$23.4

Artists’ Royalties

$41.6

Label Profit

$44.2

Marketing/ Promotion

$75.66

Retail Overhead

$101.14

Approximate cost of my collection

$415.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ML Critical Paper 1

ML Critical Paper 1

MCOM 202

Farah Saffaf

American University of Beirut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

This paper is criticizing The Economist  magazine cover titled “Hit Him Hard” and its related story. The story talks about the Syrian President’s alleged use of chemical weapons, and the reaction Mr. Obama should do in response. The writer is stressing on the fact that Assad should be punished for his use of chemical weapons by the American forces and their allies. The paper criticizes the writer’s point of view and tries to emphasize the badly chosen words used. I try to analyze the cover photo from all aspects in an effort to understand why this picture was chosen over many others. I back my arguments with what we have learnt and read in this course about news and images. I will validate my case with my own ideology regarding what is happening in Syria, since it is my homeland. In the end, I present a different image for the cover of The Economist magazine in light of what I think should appear, describing how different readers would respond. I also makeup a new headline that describes the cover image and the related story.

The Story and its Image

            The Economist magazine has always been paying attention to what is happening in Syria, a few of its cover photos evolving around it. The August 31st issue of The Economist is mainly concerned about the Syrian crises, showing the face of the Syrian President Assad with the title “Hit Him Hard”. The related story explains the picture and the title. (“Hit Him Hard” 2013)

The Cover

            The cover image portrays Assad in a wanted sort of way, since he is a wanted man in large parts of the world. It captures the attention immediately with the strong title written on top of it. It conveys the message that was still debatable at the time, whether Obama will decide on bombing Syria or not, and to what extent. The cover shot is a zoom in on Assad’s face, which is a bit transparent, revealing victims of the chemical attack in shrouds behind. The results of whether Assad is to blame about the chemical attack is yet to be revealed.(see Appendix)

The photo is synergistic, containing informational, graphical and emotional elements all together. The head shot of Assad identifies his looks to those who don’t know his appearance. The graphical aspect is conveyed in the action made by Assad towards the victims, killing them using chemical weapons. The emotional aspect is clearly understood from the background picture.(see Appendix)

This image was chosen in an effort to encourage the readers to think seriously about the necessity of foreign intervention in Syria. A clueless viewer, having no background about the story, will probably not care about the subject, maybe preferring that nothing happens. A more educated viewer (knows more about Syrian issue) might feel more emotional when seeing the image, feeling eager to support the hit. On the other hand, the Arab viewer, specifically the Syrian, might think that this photo is meaningless, since Assad has been killing his people for the past 2 and a half years, why hit him now?

According to (Sontag, 1977), “the quality of feeling, including moral outrage, that people can muster in response to photographs of the oppressed, the exploited, the starving, and the massacred also depends on the degree of their familiarity with these images”. The degree of familiarity with the image dedicates the degree of the reaction towards the image. As a Syrian, I am familiar with these images, but this image stirred mixed emotions in me. Emotions of sympathy for the victims, emotions of hatred for Assad and emotions of disgust at what we have become. I also experienced emotions of surprise at the fact that Assad should be “hit hard” only because he “used” chemical weapons, not because of all the other ways he killed his people.

The Story

            The cover photo only gives a glimpse of what the related story is all about. The writer is encouraging Obama to hit the Syrian President by delivering an “ultimatum”. What is surprising is that the report which confirms Assad’s use of chemical weapons is yet to surface, but the writer is assuming that it is confirmed. On the other hand, let us consider that it is confirmed, why is the future of the Syrian people manipulated by the Americans? Why is the so called “red line” only concerned about using chemical weapons and not other weapons? No country has the right to intervene in another country’s business whenever it finds it suitable. (“Hit Him Hard”, 2013)

The western intervention in Syria will only escalate the crises there, since it is not aimed at changing the regime, only punishing Assad. A lot of civilian lives will be lost in the process, aren’t the lives lost in the past two or more years enough?

An Alternative Image

            If I were to change the cover of The Economist magazine I would use an image that combines more graphical and emotional aspects. I would cut the magazine cover in half, showing on one side a picture of the Syrian President with his wife and kids. On the other half a picture of a family killed by weapons other than chemical weapons, in an effort not to confirm what is still not confirmed.

A random viewer, with no background of the story, might feel sorry for the victims and be surprised at how those two families live in the same country. A Syrian viewer pro the Syrian regime might find this image hurtful and meaningless, since this viewer considers all what the media has to say about the Syrian President is made up. On the other hand, another viewer of the same background might change his mind about his views after seeing a photo of victims from his own country being killed mercilessly. Another viewer against the regime might think that Assad had crossed the line a long time ago. This image might awaken feelings of disgust at the sight of Assad’s family living in peace, while other unfortunate families are dying in the same country.

A Title Swap

            The title I would choose is “Red Line”, written in red broken bricks. This title conveys mockery and contempt at Obama’s “threatening words” to Assad. Since the “red line” is used in the magazine article, to use it as a title won’t be surprising. I find this title to be very strong and interesting, very much in connection with the ideas conveyed in the article. Some readers might find it annoying, others might like the ridicule embedded in it.

References

(2013, August 31). Hit Him Hard. The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21584329-present-proof-deliver-ultimatum-and-punish-bashar-assad-his-use-chemical

Sontag, S. (1977). On Photography. Penguin Books

Appendix

the economist 

the alternative economist 2