In Defense of Taking Selfies at Auschwitz and Other Depressing Places
A teenager from Alabama took a photo in front of a concentration camp where an estimated 1,000,000 people were killed. She did so while smiling. As you might have guessed, that did not sit well with the internet. In a New York Post article on the now-infamous Breanna Mitchell Auschwitz selfie, the writer quotes a particularly vitriolic response that simply said, “Did you manage to take any of you laughing inside a gas chamber or maybe one with your head stuck in a cremator?” A fair question which I don’t believe she took the time to answer.
In an instant, Breanna became as close to the Devil as you can get without being Donald Sterling. Business Insider collected some of the more amusing insults and reactionsfrom Twitter, which amounted to “fuck you” and little else. Despite this concerted effort to make her feel bad about herself, Breanna has continued to publicly defend her actions. It’s almost like she has so much self-esteem and so little self-awareness that she’d have to be the only kind of person who would be dumb enough to take a selfie at a concentration camp.
By being completely ignorant of how some would interpret her vague digital communication (the only thing that’s obvious from her photo is that she’s happy and she’s at Auschwitz. The rest is not clear), she’s influenced a global conversation on the limits of self-involvement. Some have come to her defense, reminding us all that she’s just a kid with a dead dad who shared her love of history. Others are plenty happy to keep fucking with her, which has pushed Breanna to make her Twitter page private. The internet is paying attention, and forming strong opinions about a picture she took over a month ago. Isn’t that something to be proud of? She’s already proud of herself for going to Auschwitz. Why not be proud of this too?
Even the President of the United States Must Sometimes Have to Paint Naked
Former president George W. Bush’s two most famous artworks are self-portraits. In one, he stands naked, reflected in the bathroom mirror from the waist up with his back to us, and in another, stretched out in the tub, from his own point-of-view. The latter is the creepier of the two. It’s as if our eyes and head correspond exactly to his—are we looking at our own knees raised in the milky bathtub; our feet and toes peeking out in the distance? Even for homespun realism/surrealism, it’s more than a little perverse. These are intimate moments that we would never be privy to—or particularly want to see—yet here they are, captured and put out into the world as paintings, made by the president himself.
A fashion shoot inspired by people taking photos of themselves when they shouldn’t be taking photos of themselves.
Here’s an exclusive VICE preview
of new work by one of VICE’s favorite photographers, Jaimie Warren. It’s from her second show at The Hole, which opens tonight.
Why are so many girls wearing cat makeup on Tinder? We explored the phenomenon.
There’s No Such Thing As Selfie Addiction
Recently, the assembled hacks at the Sunday Mirror’s headquarters were deciding how best to cover the story of Danny Bowman, a teenager diagnosed with “selfie addiction.” Taking the sensitive, appropriate route, the British tabloid sent a photographer to take lots and lots of photos of him.
Selfies are the latest trend in popular art—the cave paintings of the Age of Aquarius, only much less inspiring than anything our ancient ancestors ever produced. They combine two of the most potent forces in the modern world—computer technology and celebrity-fueled narcissism—to create a form of expression so powerful that it can literally cure cancer.
Nevertheless, with great power comes great danger, as anyone who’s watched the popular New Zealand hiking documentary Lord of the Rings will remember. In it, a ring becomes so powerful that a small man is forced to walk a very long way for reasons that are never made entirely clear before throwing the offending piece of jewellery into a volcano. Someone else becomes so corrupted by the ring’s power that he starts talking to himself, loses all his friends, and ends up developing a pretty nasty skin condition from the stress of it all.
But is it possible to be addicted to taking selfies, the way you can be addicted to alcohol or nicotine or the One Ring? The case of Danny Bowman is certainly extreme. According to the Sunday Mirror article, “He dropped out of school, didn’t leave his house in six months, lost two stone [28 pounds] trying to make himself look better for the camera, and became aggressive with his parents when they tried to stop him. Finally, in a drastic attempt to escape his obsession, Danny took an overdose—but was saved by his mum, Penny.”
Why the #CockInASock Thing Is Vain Bullshit
Last week, 2.6 million women sacrificed their makeup, raised their tired arms in the air, pouted, and took a #nomakeupselfie to raise awareness for breast cancer. This week, boys have found their own inane counterpart: the #cockinasock.
The cock-in-a-sock concept, though probably as old as socks themselves, was most memorably championed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and since then it has gone from strength to strength, appearing in American Pie and bringing the homoerotic LOLs far and wide, from boarding school dorms to stinking holiday flats in Tenerife. That is, until now, when it’s become the latest weapon in the fight against ball cancer.
If you’re wondering what putting a sock on your dick and posting a picture of it on the internet has to do with raising money for charity, the mechanism is the same as the #nomakeupselfie. Take your picture, text the word “BEAT” to 70099 to donate three bucks to fighting cancer, and then encourage the giggling co-workers on your Facebook page to do the same. It’s the kind of viral campaign that gacky brand marketers strive a lifetime to come up with.