October 20, 2005
The Saddam Show
Visually, the coverage of Saddam Hussein’s day in court was interesting from a number of angles.
(First off, however, I have to get your take on the "enclosure" that contained Hussein and his codefendants. I know I have a number of readers in the Middle East, so perhaps someone could shed light on whether this element is customary or unique. In itself, however, it definitely carries an impact in terms of color, materiality, scale, shape and placement. Last night, Jon Stewart referred to it as a "crib." I assume the BAG community would take it deeper than that.)
One could make the argument that Saddam was not the day’s headliner, so much as television was. I don’t remember seeing so many photos in YahooNews depicting the same subject matter in so many variations. After looking at dozens of photos over and over again, all I could see was Saddam confined to a little box — where people could get as close as they wanted and the pixels couldn’t hurt anyone.
At the same time, I couldn’t help wondering about the political risks inherent in the trial….
Like cotton candy, these pictures offered quite a display of sugar
for one day. Beyond the pilot, however, who’s to say how the actual
episodes will fare — especially if the prosecution can’t get its act
together; the legal procedures come into question; or controversy
emerges over trial on additional charges.
With more discernment, you could see that — even today — Saddam TV
was not testing equally well with all audiences. If the tendency was to
take for granted the largely anti-Saddam sentiments of the home
audience (as exemplified by the Iraqi expatriot in Detroit following
the court scene as if from ringside), there were some other pictures
which seemed to play differently.
I was drawn to this photo, for example, taken in Fallujah. In
the heartland of the insurgency, sympathies seemed such that the show
was occasion not for vindication, but for prayer.
(image 1: Ben Curtis/Pool/Reuters. October 19, 2005. Baghdad, Iraq.
Via YahooNews; image 2: Slahaldeen Rasheed/Reuters. October 19, 2005.
Kirkuk. Via YahooNews; image 3: Mushtaq Mohamad/Reuters. Kerbala, Iraq.
October 19, 2005. Via YahooNews; image 4: Rebecca Cook/Reuters.
Dearborn, Michigan. October 19, 2005. Via YahooNews; image 5: Mohanned
Faisal/Reuters. October 19, 2005. Falluja. Via YahooNews.)