Photographing the Spectacle
DOI link for Photographing the Spectacle
Photographing the Spectacle book
For those not in Washington, DC, on January 6th, 2021, first impressions were shaped by startling imagery, headlines, and looping video footage dominating the online mediascape. News coverage of the events led with visuals portraying a fevered delirium, a cosplayed chaos, with an emphasis on both playful costumes and concerted violence redolent with historically relevant symbolism. In this chapter, we look at two distinct groups who communicated those intentions through visual imagery at the Capitol: first, the self-representation of the rioters, and second, the mainstream media images from photojournalists on the ground that day. These artifacts present a window into the sociocultural conditions at play for those in attendance on January 6th, with implications for the broader direction of democracy in the United States. The visual documents posted by the Capitol rioters themselves depict a series of performances that may betray an uncertainty within thinly constructed narratives grounded in exhortations to ‘Make America Great Again.’ In contrast, selected photos captured by photojournalists on the scene lay bare the extent of the existential crisis taking place within the American extreme right.