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COTD: Photos of Reactions to Qaddafi’s Death

October 20, 2011

Earlier today, the Libyan interim government announced that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi had been killed. Several major news outlets, in their stories reporting the news, included photographs of Libyans reacting to the news. For instance, the story on the front page of the New York Times website ran with these photos, among others:

Note the look of glee on the soldiers’ faces, and the crowd reminiscent of that Viva Gorditas commercial from the ’90s. NPR’s story has a slide show of crowds that looks more like bystanders at an NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade (which hopefully won’t go away in that link because I can’t embed the slide show itself). As of press time, no other major news outlets contain images of crowds; all focus on pictures of Qaddafi himself.

Point being, these pictures all display reactions of outright jubilation–people literally taking to the streets–over a death that was, to say the least, gory and violent. And, coincidentally, these people all come from a culture distinctly other from our own, one that is stereotyped in less, um, tactful sectors of our society as being barbaric. I’m certainly not saying that these images were consciously chosen to play into racist or xenophobic stereotypes, but isn’t it interesting the way that they depict things that play into larger cultural assumptions? Or, conversely, do you think that the pictures make an argument for Qaddafi’s death being something that’s just plain old worth celebrating, regardless of your culture?

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