March 16, 2005
In Love With Lebanon
This picture was everywhere yesterday, as was talk of the media obsession with the “Girls of Cedar.” What I was interested in, though, was how the photo signals a shift in the sexual gaze in the span of one week.
One thing that’s obviously different is the scale. All that riding around on shoulders (Betty Boop Takes Lebanon – link) is now small time stuff. At this point, what the situation calls for is nothing short of straddling mountaintops or skyscrapers.
Prior to the Hezbollah rally, the energy of the movement was often captured in tight, centered shots of female protesters, expressing joy almost to themselves. With the explosive upsurge in collective energy however, these massive crowd shots have become almost as enticing. (After all, what could be more seductive than tens of thousands moving rhythmically in unison?)
If the movement continues to gain in scale and solidarity, the young women of Beirut will become more complementary than central. It would explain why this girl, still the largest figure in the image, is now standing to the side.
If this photo is also any indicator, the new focus will involve more scenes of love with the group. In this version, the girl might as well be a couple hundred feet tall, the excited throng crawling up her legs. Or, like some sitcom variation on St. Peter’s Square, the crowd could be looking upon her balcony and serenading their blushing and overwhelmed Ms. Democracy ’05.
(image: Hussein Mall/AP in The Los Angeles Times)