Wednesday, November 5, 2008

happy ugly

i know we were talking about the mashup of beauty and ugly this week, but here is something related: the potential for ugliness in happiness. if i find intrinsic beauty in the ecstasy and emotion in images like these, i have to also questionor troublethat impulse when i look at the pure happiness on the faces above. context is all.

these are the folks who helped pass Prop 8 in California, the ballot measure with the title "Eliminates Right of Same–Sex Couples to Marry." they're happily celebrating their apparent victory, and all the gains it will bring them. the L.A. Times reports their names as "Bob Knoke, of Mission Viejo, Amanda Stanfield, of Monrovia, Jim Domen, of Yorba Linda, and J.D. Gaddis, of Yorba Linda," in case you'd like to write them a letter (Amanda looks a little conflicted to me, so maybe you can still make her feel bad).

despite being an empathetic person, and one susceptible to the emotional content of images, the expressions of joy and victory in the above image do nothing but make me angry. and my brain actually interprets their faces as violent and smug—how subjective.

today i offer you my happy face for the country for the presidential election results, and a sad face for us queers (and the foster kids of Arkansas who won't get homes now). both faces are a bit tear-streaky.

p.s. also, Queerty's take on the same image is here.


Cathleen said...

All that this photo does is serve as proof that they are ignorant and hateful. Also not sure about the sad face for the queers...queers really?

Anonymous said...

You captured this beautifully. I grew up in Yorba Linda, California and went to high school with the one in the middle. How shameful and sad that these people express such joy in the deprivation of rights for people that just want to marry, love and adopt. America - The Land of the Free. Yeah right.

Happily in the U.K.

Anonymous said...

Guess what?
Jim Domen - the one in the middle is a pastor at Rose Drive Friends Church in Yorba Linda, CA. (what a surprise)
You can reach him at
or better yet call him at 714.528.6496 ext. 130

Tell the pastor what a great Christian he is!!

Sarah S.
Los Angeles County

ryansumner said...

I agree with your opinion, but as I've told many a gay man...we really need to stop calling and referring to ourselves as queers or fags.

If we keep using the lingo, we'll never prove ourselves to be more than what society depicts us to be.

We're humans. Not fags. Or queers.


subjectify said...

ryan -- i think we must respectfully agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Better yet, if you want to call her:
Stanfield, A
Monrovia, CA

(626) 305-5205

the happy gentleman said...

It's amazing the joy people can experience from hurting others... so sad.

Lenya said...

This really is what its all about - so many photographs and *photoportraits* are about what the image can say about human experience without the hindrance or assistance of context. When I first glanced at the photo, I assumed they were cheering because of Obama. This picture is difficult for me because it shows me that happiness connects me to other humans who don't want to be connected to me.

Anonymous said...

Some great information on Jim Domen - the pastor - and ex-homosexual.
These people are bigots and so sad:

Recessionista Genie said...

This is interesting. In college I read a lot of research on facial expression, and there are all different kinds of "happy" faces or smiles that have very different emotional effects on the viewer, not all of them conscious. When I first looked at this photo I thought they were cheering for a sports team--it looks like an aggressive, gloating, not emotionally deep kind of celebration. Also, the form of the photo (squinchy expressions of glee with arms in the air) reminded me of a picture from my wedding of my friend catching the bouquet. It's a different kind of gloating glee, and to me the difference is subtle, yet somehow very significant. Here is a link to the picture:

Recessionista Genie said...

By the way, this blog is amazing in general! I could get lost in it for days. It's cool that you were chosen as a Blog of Note. :)