Images of Hurricane Katrina Essay Paper 4 pages

Photograph #

Hurricane Katrina (2005) looting found online at,retrieved1 March 2009.

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Ambulance carrying Brittany Spears away from her home found online at,retrieved1 March 2009.

Photograph #3

George W. Bush, photo of Bush from a different date, different event, superimposed over the 2001 disaster of the World Trade Center, found online at,retrieved1 March 2009.

Who is a Looter?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many photographs such as the one seen in Photograph number one flashed across the news channels around America, and throughout the world. The images show a happy, free-for-all style looting of a local New Orleans business, which was closed prior to the storm, and, in the stranded aftermath of the storm, after many of the city’s police, firemen, and in the absence of the state’s National Guard troops, was being looted by residents who had not evacuated the city (Garrett, Brandon, and Tetlow, Tania, 2006, 127). Many images like this failed to show white people looting, and there were plenty of whites who helped their selves to store shelves around the city in the days following the storm, before authorities could regain control over the abandoned city.

Even as the story unfolded on the television screens across America, some people began asking questions: Where was the Red Cross? Where were the rescue teams? Where were the police? Where, indeed? As it turned out, the Red Cross did not go to New Orleans until after stability was returned to the city. While in the arena where the New Orleans Saints football players played football, thousands of indigent citizens of New Orleans, who could not be evacuated, or could not evacuate, because of their indigence, remained stranded in what were quickly deteriorating conditions of food, sanitation, water, and shelter.

Those citizens of New Orleans where lucky enough not to have been evacuated to the stadium, remained in their homes. Some of the families were stranded with young children, but without services of food, water, or other vital services that they were in need of, and in response to those needs, they helped their selves of the supplies that were available to them – and perhaps more – that remained on the grocery and other store shelves. In all fairness, members of the New Orleans police force were found to have looted big price ticket items, like new cars.

The stereotypical images of the looting that was taking place in New Orleans fueled what was expected under those extreme conditions, and it was not until later that the major news networks changed their stories from looting, to survival.

In Photograph number two, what is now the well-known media circus surrounding the breakdown of the high profile entertainer Brittany Spears is immortalized by the red ambulance carrying the singer to the hospital where she was subsequently admitted for psychiatric care. Captured in the photograph are the hordes of paparazzi who hounded the entertainer in every aspect of her life. Helicopters hovered over her home in the Hollywood hills on a near twenty-four hour a day basis. Each time Ms. Spears left her home, she was trailed by paparazzi such that she could barely maneuver through the traffic and throngs of photographers.

The media portrayed the entertainer as psychologically disturbed, and it provided compromising photographic evidence of every step of the road that led up to the ambulance event. Ms. Spears was subsequently relieved of control over her assets, children, and even her own person. Her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, was awarded full custody of their two sons, and Spears’ father was given control over his daughter’s person and her assets. It remains that way today, and Ms. Spears pays Kevin Federline a reported eighty thousand dollars a month in alimony and child support, and her father has assumed full control and decision-making over her business and personal life.

The extent to which Brittany Spears was being manipulated by the people around her prior to her breakdown is unknown. However, as evidenced by the paparazzi flocking after the ambulance to capture photographs of every second of her life, Ms. Spears has been the meal-ticket of many people, businesses, too, besides Kevin Federline and, since assuming control over her person and assets, her father, James Spears.

What we know for sure is that many drug addicted mothers, fathers, and others in California who still have their children, and without legal challenge. Recently, the mother of octuplets, who elected to give birth by way of in-vitro fertilization, and who is virtually indigent, remains in custody of her children, and without legal action being taken against her to remove her other six children from what is ostensibly one of the unhealthiest living situations documented in the media. Who is the looter?

The third photograph is one that is found on the internet, and its purpose is to incite anger, and to sway political allegiances. There is no statement with the photograph, which are actually two photographs. The picture of President George W. Bush has been superimposed over a photograph of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, on September 11, 2001. The second photograph was taken during the post September 11 events, when the president did a photo-op on aircraft carrier on detail somewhere in the Atlantic.

There is no caption on the photo stating the makers political affiliation, and that really does not matter, because the picture is intended to generate passions about the incident, and towards the president. By the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, his approval ratings were low, and this photograph plays on those swaying sentiments towards the President.

The photograph depicts the worst kind of propaganda, suggesting that President Bush had something to do with the events of September 11, 2001, about which there are numerous conspiracy theories. The theories remain unfounded, but that does not prevent the proliferation of those theories, even by celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell, whose anger and animosity towards the Bush Administration has prompted the entertainer’s own behavior to come into question.

What we see in the photograph of Bush, by the language inserted over the images, is a projection of hate, fueling hate. The makers of this photographic – regardless of their political affiliation – are capitalizing on the photograph’s appeal to the impassioned anti-Bush opponents, many of whom are calling for Bush’s prosecution for war crimes. The image is misleading, but that does not stop the maker of the superimposed image from using it to promote a personal agenda of anti-Bush campaigning. Who is the looter?

What we see in each of these photographs is an example of images being used to individual, corporate, or other gain. The images are stereotypical, and are indicative of the ways in which the various forms of used today to promote idea, politics, and to evoke responses on the part of the people who see the images. When we look at images from the perspective of the maker as the maker of the image intends us to adopt their perceptions, then it creates a sense of being manipulated, and most of us do not like that sense. We do not like being the subject of propaganda, whether it be by the government, or a private party, or the news media. What most of us want are the facts, as they are, without the spice of sensationalism, or the superimposing of passion – because most of us have enough of that without being provoked. And most of us do not want to be responsible for bringing down a young celebrity mother, and seeing her labeled irreversible as psychotic when perhaps she is not any more psychotic than the woman next door – whose children it is not as financially lucrative for the media or the public to be concerned about. All of these images beg the question: Who is the looter?

Works Cited

Garrett, Brandon L., and Tania Tetlow. “Criminal Justice Collapse: The Constitution after Hurricane Katrina.” Duke Law Journal 56.1 (2006): 127+. Questia. 1 Mar. 2009

Images of Hurricane Katrina, found online at,2005,retrieved 1 March 2009.

Images of Brittany Spears, found online at,retrieved1 March 2009., found online at, retrieved 1 March 2009.

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