Stereotype Souveniers: What Pokemon Go Tells us about Poverty Porn

SOUVENIERS! (snobbish for souvenirs)

If you are going to spend money and time to fly someplace, you want a "souvenier".  You want something of value that represents the fruit of your hunting and foraging.  It's probably evolved, like necklaces made of feathers or teeth of wild beasts we've conquered.

Pokemon Go gives people exotic looking cartoons when they walk about outside (or let's not kid ourselves, I'm sure people are driving as much as they are walking).  It's like a gold star or sticker on your 1st Grade homework assignment.

And if you are going to fly to an "exotic" place like Africa, or have recently, I'd challenge you to go back through your "chips of film" and see what you took photos of.  How many were people you know?  Of those people you don't know, what were you taking pictures of them doing?

If you have a time machine, and can go back to the 1960s and 70s in the Ozarks, people wanted pictures of "Hillbillies".  They had read about them, seen comics about them, and having made the trek and spent the vacation hours and bucks, they wanted pictures of hillbillies, dammit.

And before you could spell "cultural appropriation", underemployed actors from Chicago, St. Louis and "Hollywood" came and erected Vaudeville shows in Branson to meet demand...

Ozark hillbilly cultural appropriation?  Agbogbloshie's predecessors

Pikachus, Agbogbloshies, Child Labor, Elephants, Buddhist Monks.  If there is something like a flame or a sunset or something to add color to the photo, it's more post-worthy.  Among Pikachus, the cartoon colors are part of the attraction.

We don't need to be snobby about it.  It's too easy to juxtapose the tourist and the brown child and infer racism, tsk-tsk.  To be honest, if I deep sea dive, I sure want a photo of a lionfish or octopus, but if there's nothing but bare dusty sand I'll take a picture of a lost shoe.  We want to validate our steps, and it's natural, and there's genuinely good things to say about caring about wherever we go.

Another photojournalist portrays muddy Agbogbloshie.

Our Agbogbloshie gangleader Awal Muhammed Basit has arrived back to homeland capital Tamale this week, where he called Techician Kamaldeen Abdusalaam of Chendiba Enterprises.  They are both in their early 20s.  What they know about Western photographers is that if Awal shows how to remove screws, it attracts far fewer shots and film than if he sets a fire.  If Agence Presse (Montreal) is there, Awal quadruples the amount of lighter fluid for the fires.

Photography just can't become the basis of public policy if we don't understand what attracts our gaze.  We are all fish, pursuing fireworks and other shiny objects, or emotional ones.  Making up fake statistics about shiny fires can result in African TV repairpeople going to jail, and that should burn our eyebrows off.

Making a documentary about Mike Anane's propaganda to evict slum dwellers in Accra for an urban development, enlisting Western journalists with's false claims of "80% recently dumped from your recycling program" is the worst form of journalism.  Trying to validate it because you feel like a sucker for flying down there isn't worthy of a trophy. #EwasteRepublic got credit just for leavening the fake story with some truth, taking pictures of normal African lives to go along with the 10 or 25 guys who burn wires in Ghana's version of the Baldknobber Show.

LaPresse hopefully paid Awal (left in Manchester United jersey) enough to compensate for the extremely extra amount of gasoline or lighter fluid he's using. The wires themselves don't emit enough "high flame" for photographers.  A tire with gasoline adds a little extra zest, more photojournalist "points".

The Baldknobbers - before the cartoon stereotype cultural appropriation - were an actual "thing".  It was a hooded vigilante group in Taney County Missouri, which would have quickly gone into the dustbin of history (along with the "anti-BaldKnobbers" which is actually a historical "thing" too) except for a 1919 Film about the "Shepherd of the Hills", which helped bring Ozarks Exoticness to USA City Theaters.  And the book by great uncle Elmo Ingenthron.

The truckdriver terrorism in #Nice06 is playing non-stop.  What I see is that crowds came to Nice to see the Bastille Day fireworks.  And an asshole in a truck killed about 85 people (out of several hundred thousands), effectively inserting himself into the shiny objects, potentially driving public policy, Scott Adams (blog) says, by causing a reaction to elect a "strongman" father figure.

The similarity between the redneck Ozark baldknobber masks and the traditional African Bamileke or Mankon masks I saw in Cameroon is probably appreciated by an incredibly small audience.  I'm enjoying the comparison.

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