the dangers of photoshopping Idle No More
i can’t actually begin to express how frustrating it is to come across blatantly photoshopped images like this one circulating without an end in sight. with thousands of notes and tens of thousands of hits:
why does an image like this one get reblogged so much? because it made you chuckle to think protestors would block a highway in the same of a giant middle finger, regardless of the cause? (have you ever been a protest/in a crowd of thousands, do you know how complicated that would be?) because you think all this movement is about is a big fuck you to one individual person named stephen harper and not decades of ongoing disenfranchisement of first nations, métis and inuit people? because you delude yourself into thinking, by pressing reblog, you get to pat yourself on the back for being engaged and support “first nations rights” without even clicking the photo to see the source, when and where it was taken, or whether or not it is even real?
let’s get right down to it: if you are not informed at this point, it is your own choice. idle no more has been going on for over a month, in your own backyard and around the world. here are your visuals, here are your links. idle no more is being reported about by some of the world’s major media outlets now, like al-jazeera.
it is supported by thousands of academics, native and non-native. there have been countless protests, round dances, drum circles, peaceful highway and railroad blockades. and when i say countless, i mean countless: in the last week it has become near impossible for activists, journalists and analysts to keep track of every action taking place around the globe.
attawapiskat chief theresa spence is over twenty days into her hunger strike, demanding simply she be granted a meeting with canada’s prime minister stephen harper and a representative of the queen (in case you needed to be reminded that yes, canada has an ongoing outdated colonial relationship with britain and yes, the fucking queen).
all of this to say, yes, idle no more is worthy of your reblogs, your likes, and your attention. but more importantly, it is worth being taken seriously.
what makes the rampant circulation falsified images like this one even worse is that there are so many actual images that are so much more impressive. images taken by people on the ground with their mobile phones, like this one in the mall of america on december 29th.
you can’t stage that kind of photo! “the next big thing is here” juxtaposed over the beautiful round dance! or say, witty protest signs like “if you do not respect our existence, you can expect our resistance,” taken on december 22nd in ottawa. or if you’re not so much into still images, what about this video of protestors in quebec city in the middle of an intense snowstorm on dec 21st, still singing and drumming and smiling even with 100 km winds.
you want to do justice to this movement? read up on it. stop circulating fake images. look for dates, for the author. message people you see circulating photoshopped images. ask them where they found the image. ask them why they are sharing it. ask them if they might consider deleting it, or at least adding a note that it is faked or photoshopped. unfortunately, this is still not enough, seeing as i messaged the person who originally posted this photo to tumblr - who, for the record, claims to have known it was fake “haha” - and still see smart, informed, critical folks reblogging it sans cesse.
at the end of the day, it is important to recognize these kinds of photoshopped falsified images of protest as dangerous. this is misinformation. this is sloppy. if there is anything that has become clear to me after following the occupy movement online (not to mention major weather events and storms, media literacy is increasingly becoming an essential tool for young people. last year so many people came to me asking what i thought of kony the day after the video went viral, without actually taking the time to read and inform themselves. if you don’t have the critical analysis skills yourself, seek out people who do.
start informing and educating yourself. movements like idle no more don’t just want you to use their hashtag and reblog photoshopped images like this, they want your active engagement. they want change.
follow chief spence on twitter. call and email your elected officials if you live in canada. bother senators and parliamentarians who are supposed to serve your interests as a citizen. see what actions, if any, are taking place in your community. there are over fifteen links just here in this one post - click on at least one of them, read them. listen. and more importantly, ask questions.
edited to add: the original photo is from april 22, 2012 by Jacques Nadeau for Le Devoir. the photoshopped version appears to have cloned a larger crowd and added the “harper” in the upper left hand corner.