When the girl didn’t show up for her coaching session after the meeting yesterday, I spent some time on a computer, reading up about Femen and a man described by some as the initial group’s “guru”. The man’s only published photograph doesn’t show him to his best advantage, whatever it may be. The shot was done after he’d had his face beaten to first degree pulp following a wildish demonstration. As for baring youthful breasts as a political statement against the patriarchal system, it strikes me as on par with draping a sudsy woman in a wet T-shirt over the latest car to hit the market. (In fact, I discover in my reading, an enterprising Turkish gentleman hired Femen members for a promotional campaign of his line of sexy lingerie. Who knows, maybe the girls spewed Down with the Patriarchal System while the cameras rolled).
I also looked up materials published by Israeli soldiers reporting on some of the killings they’d performed on Palestinian civilians, Falasha demonstrators getting beaten by Israeli policemen and, the gem among gems: a shot done by an onlooker as a bloodied woman fell to the ground prior to being killed, burned etc. I call this one the gem because, apart from the person taking this photo, several other people stand in the background recording the scene on their phones. Quite relaxed, all of them. No one is about to interfere with their filming enjoyment.
What used to be (and remains) a high-risk endeavor for photojournalists in war zones carries no such physical risk and moral commitment when you can capture and share the action for vicarious thrills – you know, the shivery- guilty jolt, and/or sadness/indignation/outrage interrupted by an invitation to subscribe to the publication online at a sixty percent discount. Hannah Arendt’s expression “the banality of evil” takes on an extra dimension when flipping through news coverage becomes an exercise in blunting of affects.
Yesterday’s meeting prior to the girl’s no-show for her coaching session involved discussions around a few children in dire need of help. For at least two of them, said help will probably come too late. Walking a number of fine lines between apathy, resignation, self-preservation, reaching out, giving the devil his due, reading, writing, and finding time for plain old, good old living too.