by cheri sabraw
Crossing the Arno River last May on the Ponte a Santa Trinita, I was struck by the number of African immigrants selling selfie sticks. Gone were hawkers pushing feathered-ball trinkets that danced like frenzied Pinocchios along the cobblestones in front of the Uffizi Gallery and gone also were the Madonna and Christ Child key rings, magnets, and cell phone covers.
Selfie sticks were and are the rage, so much so, that major museums such as the Met and the British Museum have wisely banned them.
In the WSJ this morning, resides an article about teenage girls and the selfies they take and disseminate and what they receive back from others.
The selfie now is more than a photo of two people who are too shy or too drunk to ask a tourist to take a normal picture of them on the Ponte Vecchio, more than a photo where chins and smiles are larger than life and facial distortion routine– today’s teenagers are photographing and then sending their own body parts along to their friends, and in some scary cases, to strangers.
Those in my generation will remember the hilarious scene in Woody Allen’s movie “Bananas” (1971) in which he tries unsuccessfully to hide a pornographic magazine inside a business magazine. In those days, before the internet made pornography easy to access, one had to buy stimulating photographs and hide them somewhere. Playboy Magazines were gold and as we know, most men said they read them for the “great articles” (ha, ha).
Now, we have two-generations of young people and others (think Anthony Weiner and Brett Favre) so oblivious to modesty or to what is provocative to the opposite sex, who moon their phones or photograph their breasts and send them off to their friends.
Were I still teaching teenagers today, I would encourage them to shelve the selfie and instead concentrate on images of true beauty.
Where such a dialogue would go, I do not know.