The Hostility of Our Words

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My first reaction to this image is one of hopelessness. The image conveys the boy’s pain so well that I begin to feel it myself.

The image conveys a scene in which a young boy is seemingly being choked by an arm constructed of words. Upon closer inspection, though, there are a number of subtle elements that affect the way the audience feels about the image. The hopeless feeling, for example is exaggerated with several features. Among these are the darkened edges of the picture, the pale and flawless skin of the child, and the tilted gaze. The darkened edges provide a sense of constriction and imminent darkness. Meanwhile, the color and smooth texture of the skin suggest a sense of purity and innocence; to see this swallowed by darkness triggers an subconscious bell in the mind of the audience, further playing with their emotions. In addition to all this, the inclined line of sight suggests that the boy is being abused by someone larger and older than he, perhaps a parent or another adult. By placing the viewer at the same level of the child the artists allows all of these characteristics to be viewed from the his perspective.

After the assault of emotions, one’s eye would be drawn to the writing on the arm; derogatory words such as “moron” and “fool” are used to construct the skin. One may also note that the color of the ink (black) also suggests a tainted, or corrupt soul. It can be inferred that the artist is attempting to show the equal harm that words can cause.

This image immediately lets the viewer know that the subject is child abuse, but it uses subtler elements such as slant, color, and perspective to effectively compromise their emotions. Once having achieved this the viewer may go on to realize that verbal abuse can be just as harmful to children as physical abuse.

8 thoughts on “The Hostility of Our Words”

  1. I was impressed by how many aspects you found that contributed to the overall effect of this image. I especially enjoyed the recognition of the body language in the photo and how the gradient background affected the tone.

  2. I think the child’s face is the most important aspect of this image because of the emotions of pity and sorrow that it portrays to whoever sees the image .

  3. I think you did a really good job with finding specific elements of the picture that played with the viewers’ emotions. At first glance, I only noticed the obvious: the child’s fearful and teary-eyed face along with the tainted hand of words wrapped around his neck. I failed to notice the other, more subtle cues such as the tainted edges of the picture or the child’s pale skin. You also did a good job in making it clear why exactly the creator of this image may have included those cues and how they each manipulate the way we feel when we look at the picture.

  4. The child’s eyes are the first thing I am drawn to. At first glance, this picture emulates fear and pain. I think this image could be used as either an anti-child abuse or anti-bullying campaign poster. Also the font of the words make the person who said them seem evil or demonic. I like how you take into account the colors and how they make different emotions come out.

  5. It is pretty amazing how much of an analysis you gave of the image. The boy’s face is the first thing that will catch people’s eyes because children in pain are things nobody really wants. I feel that the hand clasping the boy’s neck is not the as noticeable but is still there which really emphasizes that you may not see verbal abuse but it is definitely there. I really liked that you mentioned that the boy and the viewer are at eye level and how the viewers can now see from the child’s point of view. That was interesting.

  6. There really is a lot going on in this picture for sure! It took me a little while to realize all the words that had been written into the hand that was strangling the boy, but when I did finally understand, boy did it every hit home! This just goes to prove the true power of pictures in an argument.

  7. I personally think the look of fear and sadness on the boy’s face is what causes the most pathos. The pale skin of course makes him look even more helpless and the thought of someone putting their hand around a child’s throat feels immoral and wrong. I really like the emphasis on the angle that the arm is clasping his throat but also the angle at which the child is leaning away from the hand, as if he were looking up at the arm-bearer’s face in fear and wanting to escape.

  8. The picture is somewhat obvious in giving its meanings, but i definitely agree that the visualization did its parts on conveying its messages. Although there may not be hidden meanings, viewers can almost recognize its theme at first glace. Great example to show usefulness of visualization.

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