There’s currently a rather large hoo-ha surrounding a young Canadian photographer by the name of Jonathan Hobin. Mister Hobin has released a photo essay of young children reenacting some of the worst events in modern history in the form of some rather, erm, interesting tableau vivants
At first glance at the pictures, you think ‘ah ain’t that sweet, two little boys are playing with their fire engines and their two planes’, you then do a double take and realize that they are in fact reenacting 9/11 and that the two blocks you thought was a fun game of Jenga is actually a representation of the deaths of 3,000 people.
Hobin, as you can imagine has been met with much criticisms over the photos. Think the usual moral outcry of ‘corrupting children’s minds!’ or the slightly more dramatic ‘shocking and horrifying!’ Yes, the events in themselves aren’t particularly pleasant but surely children have a right to understand that too, even if it is on a basic level that they can comprehend through the medium of play and acting.
Hobin states that through his pictures he hopes to 'prompt viewers to think about the first time they heard or saw about the aftermath of current events and to imagine how a child with limited contexts and experience might perceive the event’. He also states ‘media is so pervasive.. you can’t escape it…. it’s a part of our culture.’
And he’s right, media is part of culture, it’s also therefore part of children’s culture too. Most children like to play the good guy, bad guy routine, well those of us who had imaginative childhoods anyway. So what is so wrong with taking that and translating into real life events that they can really understand. Children are affected by the consequences of the world around them, even if they don’t understand them as fully as the adults around them.
Yes, the pictures are provocative and thought provoking, but surely that’s the point. The events themselves were controversial and thought-provoking and we shouldn’t forget that. The use of children adds to that shock factor yet also reminds us that they’re affected too. As for the media scandal implicating children it’s like one of my dear housemates said ‘there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just a bit weird in’it.’