• Rome and the Romans had the Colosseum. Inside a huge arena, always fully packed with cheering and chanting crowds, they would introduce a gladiator. Sometimes he would fight other gladiators, sometimes it was wild beasts. They also staged elaborated recreation of distant wars so that the citizens of Rome could feel what it was like to be there. If the gladiators died, well, too bad. There was others. As long as the crowd was happy, Rome was a happy place. They wanted to see blood, they got blood.
  • Our civilization has not changed that much, has it? The show can now be watched from anywhere in the world, and the gladiators are not strong professional trained men but young fragile mothers. They are celebrities, like the ancient gladiators were, superstars actually, pushed inside an arena surrounded by an endless cheering and chanting crowd that demands more acts of heroism. More actions, more drama, more, more. Trapped in a media bowl, these celebrities seem to run like chickens with no heads. One day, trying to appease the angry and demanding mob, and at other times, trying to escape, with no chance of success. They cannot escape, the world is the arena. The more they stumble and fall, the more we laugh.
    As I watch the drama unfolding before our eyes of the very well photographed downfall of superstar Britney Spears, I cannot prevent myself from thinking about Rome and the Colosseum.
    It seems that we have the same angry crowds, cheering for more blood, more drama, laughing and joking about the miseries of others as to better forget their own. They are willing to put their heroes of yesterday to death, as long as they can watch along the way. And for some reason, those celebrities make no effort to flee the arena, but rather, instead, bump off the walls of the arena, from one Los Angeles club to another.
    Every generation lifts a human to the firmament of stardom only to crush them later, as they grow older. The previous generation had Michael Jackson, this one has Britney Spears.
    Photographers are the happy participants of this self flagellation broadcasted worldwide as we go about our daily lives. No need to buy tickets and sit in an enclosed stadium to watch. We all have prime seats. As others photographs US soldiers being shot down in the dirty suburbs of Babylonia by 21 st century barbarians, those photographers offer us the griming details of psychological downfall.
    We love to see our idols fall as we cheer for more. We love to rip them apart, slowly taking out their flesh and watching their sufferings. We seem to never be satisfied.
    Like the lady Diana drama, we will be swift and fast to blame the photographers when things go sour. But there are only the conduits of our insatiable need to watch and see for ourselves. They will have done nothing more then their job of reporting what we demand to see, to satisfy the crowds’ hunger for tragedy and despair.
    If the Romans had photographers, they would have photographed the gladiators’ struggle for survival. No one would have blamed them for the death of a hero. Today, we have no Colosseum. The media have replaced that. We do not stage fights, we photograph the real ones and bring them into our houses.
    We have no need to send lions into an arena with defenseless slaves, we are the lions.
    Today, we even ask for the public to participate, as they brandish their ever so shinny mega pixeled cell phones in the face of the dead and dying. If they are lucky, they will even get a piece of the revenues generated by the show.
    Seems the games never stopped and probably never will. Seems that photographers both in Iraq or in Los Angeles are the happy addition to the show. Seems we will all continue to watch it through a distant prism and get really offended when that prism shows us too many details. Seems that we will continue to do absolutely nothing to change it.

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