Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 13, 2011

Japan Quake: The “Radiation Check” Photo

I’ve been thinking around the power of this picture as I’ve been seeing it everywhere. Of course, who can’t relate to that sweet face and its innocent confusion? There’s more to it, though.The way the device is being pointed and the child’s hands are raised, there is also the suggestion of aggression here. It’s like this child is being assailed or robbed.

And then, isn’t that spot on … if this disaster does escalate into a nuclear catastrophe?

>>See more takes on Japan earthquake photos here and at Tumblr.<<

(photo: Kim Kyung-hoon / Reuters. caption: Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama, Japan, March 13.)

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    I hope the nuclear industry uses this image as the focus for every one of its marketing campaigns worldwide. Nuclear energy: safe, cheap, reliable- and the only energy that will keep giving back for millions and millions of years…

  • as the man said

    everyone breathing has an equal share of skin in these games

    • Kesla

      try convincing most folks that it’s not just another natural disaster tragedy, but you’re right.

  • Property

    The small child in the back of the photo has her face covered. One does, one doesn’t suggests pure chaos.

  • Anonymous

    This reminds me of William Carlos Williams’ short story “Use of Force.” In addition to being a fictionist, Williams was also a poet and — perhaps most important in this context — a physician.

    On the surface the first-person story (fewer than 1600 words) narrates the visit of a physician who makes a house call to see whether a child is suffering from diphtheria. Beneath the surface, though, the story deals with what happens emotionally and psychologically when an adult authority figure forces a child, however conscientiously and for the child’s own good, to submit to an experience the child fears. In Williams’ story, as in this photo, the authority is male and the child is female.

    The picture resonates for me, Michael. I’m sure that’s influenced by the fact that I have a young grandchild whose mother is Anglo and father Asian. I can’t help seeing Julia when I look at that child. But beyond that, it makes me think of microcosmic/macrocosmic parallels going well beyond just medicine or radiation sickness.

    http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/force.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Mokray/767686527 George Mokray

    TSA screeners
    “Stop or I’ll shoot”
    The government guys invading Elliot’s house looking for ET

  • Pingback: Nuclear Crisis in Fukushima and beyond. – The World's Got Problems

  • Progressive Mom

    Note the extreme distance between the worker — who has to completely extend his arm — and the child (in the background, the worker is much closer to that child). That distance, plus the vulnerability of the child’s clothing verses the protective gear on the worker, makes the child appear as “the other”, avoided and feared.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes