No IM or My Space for the Polk 8

I thought it was some kind of april fools joke at first. When I saw the images of the teenagers in their correction facility outfits with the headline that they had filmed themselves beating the crap out of another teenager so they could post it to You Tube. I thought it was some film school stunt. I don't really know why I thought it was a stunt. Maybe they looked too much like some of those cool, detached portraits I had seen at Rob Haggart's Promotional Flickr slideshow. Maybe these kids were too young, too attractive. Maybe it was all the orange. But apparently it's not a stunt. Eight teenagers in Polk County Florida (6 girls and 2 boys) have been arrested after beating another female teenager to the point of hospitalization while filming the beating and threatening to post the video on You Tube.

Here are the images of the defendants at their bail hearings - take a look at their cold vacant stares. Not much sign of remorse or connection to what they had done. They are fascinating images - their oversized orange having been changed to correctional facility royal blue - they each look like actors in a soap opera. They could be in ER or Scrubs or maybe even in an Alec Soth verite´ fashion story for W.

(all images below © Scott Wheeler)

They met bail yesterday under the condition that
"You will not use any Internet chat room, social site, opinion forum, included, but not limited to, MySpace and YouTube," Judge Cowden said.

The full story is all over the internet. One amazing report has this:
"Following their arrests the girls joked in a holding cell. One asked if she would be able to make it to cheerleading practice the next day, while several others joked that they wouldn't be making it back to the beach anytime soon, he said."

"They seemed to have absolutely no remorse at all," Judd said. "They were just going to beat her. And beat her they did."

And while we're on the subject of appearance and normalcy and race and attire and prison uniforms, I have to add these images from commercial photographer Chad Ress. I found them awhile ago and wondered what they had been shot for:

images below ©Chad Ress

1 comment:

Nathan said...

If I recall correctly, those images by Ress are from this campaign:

"That's part of its appeal, says Los Angeles-based photographer Chad Ress, who's shot campaigns for the nonprofit Stop Prisoner Rape and the American Legacy Foundation's anti-tobacco Truth campaign. "I won't say I seek out work that's either politically charged or of a public service nature, but a lot of times that's where agencies, and the photographer as well, can shape a campaign on their own terms. It affords a lot of creative liberties that more mainstream clients don't necessarily always afford."

The attention-getting approach of many pro bono campaigns comes with some risks. For the Stop Prisoner Rape campaign, for example, Ress and the creative team at McKinney had to figure out how to put a black man in prison garb without perpetrating the stereotypes often associated with that image."