Playing War

14 Apr

First thing’s first. Watch Tim Hussin’s video called Kids with Guns. Tim is a multimedia photojournalist with some pretty cool stuff. We watched this video in class as an example of a multimedia piece with intense audio.

About this project, Tim writes in his blog,
“I shot (pardon the pun) some kids playing guns at what seemed to be an abandoned church the other day. These kids were serious. One of them actually knew a little history for some of the battles they were trying to act out. I realized that I don’t need to go to Iraq to shoot war when it’s right in our backyards…

P.S. Gun sounds, howling wind, heartbeat and demonic synths added for dramatization.”

I think the package is really well done and the sound is masterfully crafted to go with the photos and the rhythm. In class, it naturally sparked a lot of discussion on journalistic ethics and political messages.

from Tim Hussin's Kids with Guns

As a kid, my brother and his friends ran around the neighborhood with toy guns, so the subject matter is not shocking to me. I’m not saying you should buy your kid a real gun, but toys are toys. I’m glad Tim was transparent in his use of dramatic audio. When I first watched the piece I thought maybe the gun noises were part of the toys, but the recordings make much more sense (and besides, who has toy grenades that make real grenade sounds? Not the kids in my neighborhood).

The heartbeat was a creative touch. It made me nervous for the boys and gave it a serious feel. The intensity created by the audio takes away the innocence you might get from just looking at the stills.

Is it journalism? Hmmm. I don’t think so. The stills could be a feature, but Tim took a little too much artistic liberty with the music. It wasn’t just about kids playing. If journalism was his aim, it should be considered unethical. In the comments on his blog post he says,

“yeah tom, you’re right, but this was in no way for any editorial purpose, so I just wanted to go as overboard as I could with it. And I wanted to experiment with garageband.”

So I think it’s fair. It’s art.

Is it political? Yes. The music makes a 100% difference. You can’t watch it without thinking these kids are in danger and losing their innocence. Is it because they play violent video games and watch gory movies or because their parents buy them toy guns instead of teddy bears? Who knows.


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