12 frames is all it takes

I’m incessantly puzzling over how to depict the exploitation of women without actually re-exploiting them “for the cause.”  How truly does an overly sexualized teenager staring vulnerably into the camera challenge our myths and presuppositions about trafficking in children?  Or how do eroticized action films confront our fantasies and pigeon-hole estimations of femininity?  And then, how do you actually create images of exploitative situations without exploiting the [child] actors involved?

It’s a theme I’ve been contemplating for years now, and my thoughts are in such constant flux and evaluation that I rarely get to actually put “pen to paper” about it.  But today I watched The Click Five and MTV Exit’s new music video for their song “Don’t Let Me Go” and in a flash of brilliance at least one rhetorical construct made sense: twelve frames is all it takes.

Between 2:54 and 2:55 there is a grainy black-and-white flash that says everything: a man pins down and straddles a young girl on a stark white mattress.  The high angle and visual quality of the shot evoke those creepy, voyeuristic hotel security cameras.  Suddenly, in perhaps 12 frames or less, we the viewer are skyrocketed into the bird’s eye view, the simple, clear, gray-scale truth that children are being hurt at the hands of adults who are supposed to protect them.

And it hit my gut.  A four-minute video with pretty tame, allegorical representations of trafficking—and one freezing moment, blink and its gone but forever imprinted on your soul.  For all the complex planning and production and analysis that litters the table of abolition rhetoric, twelve frames was all it took.

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    • Marielle
    • April 23rd, 2011

    Hey dear!

    Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog every now and then, and that I love how you can express your feelings and thoughts in writing so well! And you are working for such a great cause, Jessica! You are doing really important things, keep it going!

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