Tomás Quintero: Unit 3 Assignment 3

A common theme that I find that unites the two texts is how they analyze the power that information, more specifically images, possesses. Gourevitch explains how images and when things are “on film” hold power over people and public influence. The world only knows and sees what you show them, something that Hutu Power used to its advantage to spin the Rwandan PR story on its head. This way, the Hutus, who were the Génocidaires of the situation, were still able to appeal to the worldview through misinformation propaganda by saying that the Tutsis were threatening them, that this was a two-way situation. That simply wasn’t the case and the Hutus then were able to find a way to victimize themselves while they were relentlessly killing off the Tutsis in the background. This connects to Sontag in which they explain how photographs are used to immortalize moments and have a certain authenticity in its expression, which is why images of death and war are so powerful. One can see exactly what the viewer was seeing at that very moment; it is documentation, an artifact. An image is a tiny snapshot of what we know of what is happening. That’s the danger. We only know what we are given, in this case, only a photograph. People can choose what they want and not want others to know. The propaganda department of a government chooses what they want their people and what the rest of the world should and should not know. Because of this power, the information that we are shown can be misleading, and the propaganda that we are shown can simply be misinformation, rather than the truth. The information that we are could be an exaggeration or an understatement of what happened. We might not know anything at all. With that, there is a lot of power behind an image and what we know and don’t know. An image and what you see in it can explain a lot and can have many messages behind it but we don’t necessarily know if that image is an accurate representation of the truth or if there is something else that is going on behind the scenes.

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