Paragraph: Sontag describes how photos depicting violence of war have usually been intended to shock people with the realities of war, but war still happens despite this. These pictures depicting victims of war can be used in any context, provided a different caption is assigned to them. The group victimized in the photo might use it as defense, an indicator of the horrors the opposing side inflicts on their side. The group culpable in the photo might claim the image was staged, and use it to pin the other side as liars.
Sentence: Although their purpose is to shock people away from war, photos depicting victims of violence change meaning based on the viewer’s perception.
Paragraph: Sontag explores an innate attraction that people seem to have to horrific images. The attraction happens too often to be deemed horrific, so it could be tied to sexual urges. After seeing so many horrific images, some people might become apathetic to depictions of violence, especially if the violence has no end in sight. People often become distanced from the photos no matter what, even through sympathy, for sympathy allows people to distance themselves from a part they could have played in the suffering.
Sentence: Horrific images first spark a strange fascination in the viewer, and eventually spark a sense of disconnectedness from the violence depicted.
Paragraph: Images of suffering are important because they show people the horrible things humans are capable of doing, often voluntarily. All suffering has an audience, which does not want to linger on the images for too long — now seemingly more than ever. However, by looking away, people are not necessarily negating the purpose of the image. The photo’s purpose is not really to make the viewer suffer, but rather to draw attention and reflection to a subject. Thinking about a horrific topic depicted by an image is better than contributing in some way to the topic’s awfulness.
Sentence: Images of suffering are necessary because they call the audience to reflect on the reasons for that suffering.