Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Four years after the picture by Eddie Adams, another indelible image of the war created an equally emotive impact of revulsion, the sight of a screaming 9-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc as she ran naked along a road after having been burned in a South Vietnamese napalm attack. Such is the power of the photographic image in the hands of the print media. Adams told Time magazine, “The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation.”
For doctoring the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the impromptu summary execution, a former employee of Singapore Technologies was fined $8,500 for inciting violence. Instead of the Vietcong, the face superimposed was that of the former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister. The only similarity was that both were unpopular figures of the time. The Deputy Public Prosecutor had urged the court for a 9-month jail term, arguing it was in line with the criminal intimidation sentencing benchmark. The defendant's lawyer said that the posting was "a grandiose statement, hyperbolic, surreal" and the exclamation marks at the end of the comment underlined those facts. We've heard quite a bit of those grandiose statements in the press recently, hyperbolic and surreal, such as $850 a month can afford a $100,000 HDB flat.