Photographing Homeless Banned
SA*Various photography organizations have today announced a serious effort to stamp out gratuitous picturetaking of the homeless.
Germany's OOF, the French BLIC, English PBOG and America's SMAALP have joined similar Japanese organizations and the Chinese government in supporting the ban. Major universities have decided to follow suit. No longer will pictures of homeless people be considered appropriate for MFA programs or in many major fine art programs. "It's gone far enough," said the President of the Association of Granters and Holders of Nearly Perfectly Useless Degrees, Bob (formerly Barbara) Cady-Stanton, in New York City. "People think it's 'concerned photography' or 'socially relevant.' Actually it's just faux photojournalism of something handy that can't fend for itself. It's harder to take pictures of squirrels."
Critics cite cliché
Major photography critics concur. "There are probably enough homeless pictures from Photo 101 classes in major cities everywhere to last the human race forever," said Jay Bill. Added B.C. Coleman, "It's gone so far beyond cliché that it's sunken into mannerism and from there transformed into invisibility." "The feckless simianity discordances the rotomontade hapness of beagle fever," agreed Anne D. Grundberg. The Critic Formerly Known As Clement Greenberg was asked to comment but indicated through an interpreter that he now only writes art criticism using symbols, bits of dried ketchup, and patterns he finds in dried mud. ("Clement thinks words are like, so 20th-century," said the interpreter.)
Homeless report relief
"I was quite relieved to hear about the ban," said Max Headroom, homeless since 1994 (pictured in better days, right). "I mean, it was bad enough when you had kids in army jackets stalking you with Pentaxes. But now, these days, with their laptops and batteries and everything, well, it's like they're setting up command posts. I have it hard enough. I was a celebrity. I was big." (Asked how he's doing these days, Headroom inscrutably replied, "I'm ahead.")
"I used to find it difficult to keep my good side facing the cameras," said The Angel of Mercy, a homeless woman in an extraordinarily dirty taffeta tu-tu. Several others nearby mumbled in agreement, or just mumbled. One man claimed all the photographers were government agents, then ran away.
"Oh, it's annoying, all right," said English Roger, who dresses entirely in cast-off plastic bags. "It's always been annoying. I mean, it makes you want to slap them. I'd give it a shot, but let's face it, I've been drinking Sterno and mouthwash for thirty years and the lobes of my brain aren't even touching anymore. If I tried to run I'd probably disintegrate. Still, does that give them a right to snap away at me without even asking for a by-your-leave?"
Advocates for the homeless call it a small but significant victory. "Most of these people haven't been homeless all their lives and they won't be homeless forever. So how kind is it to do forced journalism projects on them when they're at their worst?" said a man identified as Jim, from the 69th Street Shelter. "If a man lives in a cardboard box, that's his home. So how would like it if some 35-year-old divorcée who thinks her life is adrift and art classes might be just the thing wandered into your living room and started snapping pictures of you, saying, 'it's for my assignment'? You wouldn't like that, would you? Of course not. So leave them alone."
Officials in Washington D.C. have unveiled a new sign. Inside a red circle with a diagonal line through it is a simplified block figure of a downcast seated figure and a photographer standing over him, aiming a camera.
The consortium says it will continue to permit pictures of the homeless, but only if prospective photographers buy their subjects a hot meal first, and at least offer to pay for a haircut.
"I'd like a manicure, personally," chimed in English Roger.
So that's it then—no more pictures of the homeless. All are agreed.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON
* Satire Alert
UPDATE: I've been forwarded at least one thread from a far-off forum (not dpreview) that discusses this post (at considerable length) as if it were for real. Really, it's satire. Would I joke about it being satire? —MJ