29 November 2012

On 'Heartwarming' Photographs

I came across this story, about an officer from the NYPD who bought a homeless man a pair of warm boots,  in The New York Times yesterday. Before I go on, let's be clear: the officer did a generous thing. He did a generous thing that many folks, and not just denizens of NYC, would not have done. He deserves the public praise he's received. I myself am just glad he was not reprimanded for leaving his post on an anti-terrorism patrol in Times Square in order to buy boots for the fellow.

The story in The Times and related notoriety (e.g., gazillions of 'likes' and 'shares' on the NYPD facebook page) was prompted by the picture I've lifted above, snapped by a woman from Arizona visiting NYC. So, here is my problem. First, more or less random acts of kindness are, by definition, random. They will not systematically address the difficulties of the poor in America. Second, the picture has elicited lots of 'heartwarming' response. Screw that. Heartwarming is just people feeling good vicariously about themselves. It will not induce anyone to actually do anything about poverty - like stop electing right wingers whose first instinct is to blame the (unidentified) homeless guy for being out on the freezing streets barefoot on his being a 'taker' or a 'moocher.'

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2 Comments:

Blogger Stan B. said...

How many of those loathsome, hypocritical, greedy, self serving, "Christian" Republican bastards would have done like Jesus?

And good point- surprised he hasn't been somehow reprimanded for his decent deed. Just don't try putting quarters in someone's parking meter...

30 November, 2012 19:57  
Blogger adam hujhes said...

has there been any empirical work on the affective consequences of photography? if so, can you recommend any of it?

02 December, 2012 11:15  

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