Oliviero Toscani "Looking
Death in the Face"
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So for all the previous controversy Benetton finally showed their real colours.
It’s quite remarkable the strength of peoples reactions sometimes. I’ve just watched a documentary (well a bit of it) about Oliviero Toscani and Luciano Benetton and the famous and controversial advertising campaign known as the “United Colours of Benetton”.
The bit I saw was about the parents of a murdered boy whose murderer was being featured as one of the prisoners on death row in the campaign “Looking Death in the Face”. I can understand the parents’ horror at seeing the man who violently and cruelly sodomised and then killed their 17 year old son being made famous, and seemingly normal, in a campaign which was suggesting the death sentence was wrong.
I could well understand it if they wanted to torture the man for fifty years and then tear him to pieces. But the public opinion that welled up in response to their indignation and in apparent sympathy with them, well, I am a little suspicious about that!
I suspect that a lot of the driving force behind the public reaction was founded in people’s own fears, anger, resentment, hatred and revenge. If you look a little further than the end of your own nose a few revealing facts become apparent.
Watch this… Someone gets mad at the nasty person who commits such an awful crime on such a sweet innocent. Well, they think that nasty person should be captured, judged, sentenced and then punished and even killed. Whew - that sorts that out and brings equilibrium back to our world.
But what of the person watching this. Hmm, they might think, what a nasty person to be premeditatively and cold bloodedly attacking, humiliating, torturing and then murdering another human being. What a nasty piece of work. But - I hear them cry - its different for us.
We are only doing it because that nasty person did it. Oh! Really? Has it not crossed your mind that that person only did it because it was done to them. Done to them in a far less tangible and realisable way.
Done to them by society and culture. Done to them by their parents and the institutions of society. In a way that they are not even fortunate enough to be able to perceive as an outside cause but internalize the pain and the anguish to the point that they despise themselves.
Incidentally, I heard once on a radio program that the most statistically significant connection between murderers is that they have tried to commit suicide. The problem is that it is a chain. When we are not in the thick of an event we can see that.
How does a Christian society conclude that the death sentence is okay? I just don’t get it. I mean, if we had a church of the living Sadam Hussain I could understand the Hussainians calling for torture and death.
If we had a church of the risen clone of Adolf Hitler I could understand the Jews, no the Hitlerians, oh I do so get my history mixed up.
It was the Jews who killed Christ, they then got a guilt complex about it (maintained in their very crafty act of sustaining historical paranoia by attacking the innocents with knives (they call it circumcision) before they can defend themselves - they add insult to injury then by bringing them up and pretending to be friends - it gets worse but I wont go into that now) and with their complex firmly in place they take it out on the gentiles and the (particularly Christian) Germans (in this case) get fed up and blame them for everything and decide to make scape goats out of them.
Well, horror above horrors, lets us English and American Christians go and bash them in indignation for their unholy activities of slaughtering millions of Jews. Well some people already knew what was going on and that was just fine until it threatened their power base in the west. But what the hell has that got to do with the Christian message of forgiveness. It pisses me off. I think forgiveness is a jolly good thing. I thought, and I guess I still do, that that was what Christianity was about (amongst other things).
I can’t get over the fact that some of Christ’s last reported words were “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Is that an insight or what? Or is it blatantly obvious if you can just get outside of the fray for a moment. There is absolutely no sense in killing criminals. It does no good, and in fact it perpetrates harm.
What we have to do is focus on the cause of the problem. The inhumanity to children. Children of all ages including the ones we call criminals.
Now I’m a bit cynical at times, and I thought the Benetton campaigns were dubious. But, I always appreciated the provocative nature of them. They were always morally sound, unless you took a cynical attitude, as many did, and saw it as exploitation of the unfortunate. The problem with that is two fold. First, the exploitation is the capitalism, not the art; second, the consequence of that argument is the old “don’t look at invalids” syndrome. The danger is it’s swept under the carpet.
Frankly I’d like to be exploited if I had been murdered in an unholy war. It would be my way of bringing peoples attention to the injustice. It is unfortunate that the financial support for such a global publicity stunt comes from the motive of making more money.
However, if it is necessary to have the money to support such art, then I am pleased that it was available to Toscani. But here’s the rub - when the going got tough, Benetton pulled out.
I applaud what they have done in enabling such artistic expression, provocation, and discussion. I am pleased that they could take such controversy so far. I am proud to be part of a society where it is possible to make such statements in the face of a lot of pressure. I delight in the fact that the society at large can take it.
But how sad that it ended the way it did.
all pictures copyright someone else (i guess benetton)
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