A Skewed Semiotic: When a Picture Speaks the Wrong Thousand Words

Nicholas Kristof wrote a fascinating couple of opinion articles for the NYTimes over the last two weeks, and the reason for some reader dissent and confusion in the first story appears to stem from a core misunderstanding — purposeful or not — about the image.

Here’s what Kristof wrote on February 22, 2014:

As an infant, Johnny was deaf but no one noticed or got him the timely medical care he needed to restore his hearing. He lives in a trailer here in the hills of rural Appalachia with a mom who loves him and tries to support him but is also juggling bills, frozen pipes and a broken car that she can’t afford to fix.

The first error Kristof makes — but has yet to apologize for, or clarify — is labeling Johnny “Deaf.”  Deafness is a cultural condition from which one does not get “healed” so the proper term should have been “hearing loss” since the “Deafness” was not actual, but imagined, by Kristof.

The real outrage aimed at Kristof was not over his inappropriate use of “Deaf” — but rather the way some of his readers felt he was celebrating a degenerate lifestyle of poverty in this image:

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Urban Cave Art

We love 37signals, and when we recently discovered a blog post of theirs extolling the new “Modern Cave Drawings” they had “put on their walls” — welp, we were mesmerized by their notion of “Urban Cave Art.”

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The Siamese Twins that Weren’t. Or Were They?

Images speak a thousand lessons.  Certain images have such an innate power that they invoke an entire, dramatic, telling without you needing to know anything about the history of the characters or the provenance of the propagating emotion.  Meet twins Willy and Lily.  Lily is upside-down.  We were sent their photograph over the weekend.  They are the newest one-year-old members of our extended family in the Midwest.  Willy and Lily are not Siamese Twins.  Or are they?  I suppose it depends on what you know and who you choose to believe.

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Wired Covers a Chocolate Urban Jesus

We love the re-gifting ability of the Internet.  It was our delight and surprise to learn today Wired.com liked our Urban Semiotic article — What to Do With a Naked Chocolate Jesus — enough to link it from their article on Bioartists… way back on December 13, 2007 as you can see in the screenshot below.  The Urban Semiotic.com link from April 2, 2007, is the last words in the last sentence:

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Celebrity Semiotic Archives

All Celebrity Semiotic articles can once again be found right here in the Celebrity Semiotic blog
When you perform a search, everything and everything we’ve written will appear in those search returns.  Thank you for joining us!

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Welcome to the New Celebrity Semiotic!

We are delighted to announce this Celebrity Semiotic blog in the Boles Blog Network has moved from Microsoft Live Spaces to its new home here on Movable Type.

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Urban Semiotic in Context

We always find it fascinating how memes are passed from one mind to another, and when we started this Urban Semiotic blog in 2004, the binding of “Urban” and “Semiotic” into a single idea was not prevalent or popular. Today, a curious site called Osun.org provides this odd search return for:  http://www.osun.org/Urban+Semiotic-pdf.html

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