(Speaking Facts)

Last week I was watching some terrible Vince Vaughn action-ish movie on Netflix with the subtitles on, when a scene featuring two Mexican cartel gangsters played out. In my ongoing attempt to learn more Spanish, I tried to follow along with the dialogue. The subtitles simply read, [Speaking Spanish].

It irked me to the point of making a note to keep track of this sort of thing. Then, yesterday, watching A Most Wanted Man, I see this:

Subtitles

There are plenty of films that take a certain amount of responsibility with subtitles, but I’m more intrigued by this de-facto American position. There’s no reason to not feature what is being said, except to reduce the inherent importance of the language being spoken (or, insult the intelligence of the audience). This represents the kind of Anglo-American supremacy currently in the political hot-seat, but in a way that is too passive to create a political fervor over. (After all, Texas is currently arguing in favor for the morality of the Klu Klux Klan. Subtitles are pretty far off from where the USA is at in terms of ‘creating a landscape of equality in mainstream culture.’)

It is, nevertheless, these passive maneuvers within media that maintain power right where it wants to be. This is modern propaganda—the passive minimization of anything that doesn’t reflect the total agency and perception of western perfection.

The Silhouettes of Ambition

Boarding
Chairs

The same photograph, varying exposure

I think a lot about how terms of photography are used as metaphors for information. Exposure and in a certain light are politically correct ways to talk around an otherwise obvious truth, in the way I underexposed the above photograph to feature the jet engine outside the window as opposed to the wheelchair inside. In the first photo, it’s more difficult to debate the look of the wheelchair. It’s just as hard to discern a majority of the plane. But in those areas of speculation is space for pointless, and endless, debate.

Like art and culture in the USA before it, journalism and the public discourse has been consumed by the demands of capitalism and entertainment—now simply a matter of set lighting, manipulation and composition. It’s not that anything can really be done about this situation, but nothing good comes from ignoring this nightmare either.

This website will concern itself with ideas like these moving forward.