it, there are already millions of photographs of virtually every inch of this country. Are
yours really better because your finger clicked the button?
|| One of the great
discoveries you make if you take a cross country road trip, aside from how handy an iron
can be to warm up that leftover oyster Po-Boy thats been under the seat since New
Orleans, is that there are way too many people with cameras.
Everyone, it seems, has a camera around their neck. Simple one-shots, expensive
SLRs, video cameras, digital cameras, and now the ubiquitous disposable. These
cardboard cameras are the greatest invention since air vending machines at gas stations.
And possibly the most appropriately named, since for most people the cameras are so
disposable they lose them before they get the film developed. Thats why I wish
theyd start selling cheaper versions without film. It would let me continue to
embarrass people by making them stand in front of Mt. Rushmore smiling like theyre
about to get a root canal without anesthetic and, since I know Ill never see the
camera again anyway, I can sleep well knowing I saved money since the pictures will turn
out exactly the same as if the camera actually had film. Nonexistent.
Everywhere you go you hear the clicking,
see the flashing, and watch as people take photographs of the Statue of Liberty, the
French Quarter, and the tumbleweed that looks like Ellen Degeneris in the episode when she
came out of the closet. Face it, there are already millions of photographs of virtually
every inch of this country in books, tourist pamphlets and travel guides. I dare say,
damned good ones, too. Are yours really better because your finger clicked the button?
Personally, I think the person who shot the
photos for the postcards did a pretty good job, and at twenty-five cents a pop
theyre quite a bargain. Besides, I can always personalize it by drawing a crude
stick figure thats supposed to be me hiking way, way, way down the Grand Canyon
trail when in fact I stopped after about a half mile, right about the time it became hard
to tell the difference between the mule droppings and the mud.
photographs capture Kodak Momentsor so we always hopevideo tapes relive the
experience in all its agonizing detail, the kind of detail that makes one yearn for the
delight of an all-weekend Baywatch Nights marathon.
|| I worry that people
with cameras are only experiencing a small part of whats going on. Theres a
reason the phrase is "Stop and smell the roses", not "Stop and take a photo
of the roses." While focusing through the tight little viewfinder, the camera people
are missing everything else thats going on. This is especially true of those with
video cameras, which have become as common as T-shirts which say, "My parents went to
Myrtle Beach and all I got was this lousy T-shirt thats covered with this
mornings Grand Slam breakfast from Dennys."
For some reason people with video cameras seem to think every moment is worth documenting.
Either that or they own stock in Maxell. They follow the family as they walk down the
sidewalk towards the Alamo. They hang out the window as they drive along miles and miles
of barren desert. And they slowly pan along tourist information signs so theyll be
able to read it when they watch it at home because they were too busy taping to read it in
person. Ah, were it only to read: "Caution, videotaping this sign is punishable by
making you watch all your vacation videos in one continuous sitting."
Do people actually plunk themselves down
and watch the 372 hours of videotape they took of their vacation at Lake Nothing-Happens?
And why do they feel compelled to subject their about-to-be-former- friends to it as a
nice break from playing Trivial Pursuitthe Dairy Products Edition? While photographs
capture Kodak Momentsor so we always hopevideo tapes relive the experience in
all its agonizing detail, the kind of detail that makes one yearn for the delight of an
all-weekend Baywatch Nights marathon.
may explain why people love posing the family in front of tourist spots. They really think
the view of Yosemite Falls is improved by their presence.
|| Of course I may be
wrong. After all, people do watch a lot of television. If youre an average American
you watch 1,600 hours of TV a year. Thats more than 4 hours a day, or approximately
half the time you spend pretending to work. Add to that the fact that more than half of us
regularly watch TV while eating dinner (which next to chunky style sour cream is the
primary cause of indigestion in this country), and you start to wonder if the act of
seeing your vacation on the TV screen is actually validation that it really happened.
That may explain why people love posing the family
in front of tourist spots. Its a way of saying "We were here". Either that
or, Ansel Adams be damned, they really think the view of Yosemite Falls is improved by
their presence. Hopefully theyll confine this habit to their travels here at home,
for if they try this in Afghanistan they could be arrested. Not long ago the Taliban
religious army banned the photographing or filming of people, saying photography violates
the beliefs of Islam. You know, you have to admire any religion that helps ensure that an
evening with friends who just came back from a vacation at the Arabian Sea wont
include four hours of watching them smile as they get knocked down by another wave.
Hmmmm...Maybe I should sit down and write a
letter suggesting this band to my Congressman. Nah, hes probably busy videotaping
his family as they leave the house and get in the car, ready to go on vacation. Wave
©1997 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. But they
don't run a photogrph. I wonder why?