The Cultural Affects Of National Geographic

1368 words - 5 pages

Thailand is a country enveloped in much mystery and cultural tradition. This fact is reflected very clearly in a series of pictures taken from the article, “The Many Faces of Thailand” in the February 1996 issue of the National Geographic magazine, titled, “Into the Heart of Glaciers” I will attempt to analyze the way in which the pictures portray the richness of Thailand’s culture and people and prove this statement about the National Geographic’s photography, “They originated in a search for ways of teaching about the third world that did not objectify and were not paternalistic but that fostered both a sense of how lives around the globe are interconnected and a capacity for empathetic understanding.” (Collins, Lutz 3)
     “A good portion of its text and photographs is devoted to images of the peoples and cultures of the third world.” (Collins, Lutz 1) This quote taken out of, Reading National Geographic, is proven very true by my use of this article about Thailand. National Geographic magazine has always tried to create interest in third world countries through its photographic spreads and “draw people into contact with a much wider set of cultural ideas” (Collins, Lutz 1)
     The first photograph found in this series is one of a Buddhist ceremony. It includes much artistry and focus and teaches the reader many things about Thailand’s culture. The first thing that I noticed about the picture was that it is dominated by males. There are no females in this photograph and the ages of the males vary greatly showing a male dominance being present in the cultural hierarchy. The photo is very dark, causing the reader to focus on the subjects rather than the background. Jodi Cobb, the photographer, portrays the harmony and continuity which is traditionally the spirit found amongst the Thai people by showing the men donning monks’ robes and holding candles, incense and lotus blossoms. Capturing a photograph of a cultural ceremony is very effective in educating an audience about a country. An omniscient, unbiased stance is being achieved by the photographer in this shot because there is no indication of good or bad throughout this photograph, it is simply the reflection of a ceremony in order to more appreciate Thai culture.
     “The magazine attempts to articulate a national vision, addressing the concern and curiosity of all U.S. citizens.” (Collins, Lutz 6) In another photograph of the collection, a concern of AIDS is addressed. According the picture description, prostitution serves intercontinental clientele and some 800,000 citizens are HIV-positive and one-in three prostitutes may be infected with the virus. This photograph shows a less-harmonized side of Thai life than the first yet still maintains the theme of religion seen in the lives of many Thai people. It shows a Thai woman pausing to respect a “spirit house” while being stared at by what looks like two...

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