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Video Doesn’t Compare to the Truth

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Video Doesn’t Compare to the Truth

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Gwyneth Zamora, Writer

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In a short viral-video shared since Friday, January 18, 2019 shows white high school students in Make America Great Again hats and shirts mocking a Native American elder, leading to accusations of the teens’ behavior. The students have denied wrongdoing and their supporters urged against rushing to judgement.

By Saturday January 12, 2019, the video had been summarized into a single image: One of the students, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, smiles over an Omaha tribe elder, the viewers took this confrontation as an act of hostility by a crowd of white youths towards a primitive community, people of color more broadly.

But as the weekend passed, a new video cast confusion on what the original video had appeared to offer. Given the new footage students were widely mischaracterized. Video doesn’t compare to the truth.
Film and photography try to capture events as they took place in the world, so it’s always tempting to take them at their world. But when multiple videos offers multiple truths, which one should people believe?

Despite the broad prejudice of videos online, people still seem to believe that camera portrays the world as it really is. But rather than jumping to conclusions on who was honest or righteous, it might be better to stop and look at how the footage constructs rather than reflects the truths of an argument like this one.

Unlike painting or writings, photographs and film have long been thought to record the world as it actually appears. They seem to be able to point at reality and capture it in an evidentiary way. They also often pose a threat to the trustworthiness of film.

For Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School junior that is seen to be intimidating the tribal elder with his colleagues, their actual intentions and motivations seems to drift due to what took place.
The new video shows Black Hebrew Israelite protest group that had also gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where the incident took place. They are seen to be mocking and deriding the passersby nearby.

According to a statement made by Sandmann, the students were also victims of harassment by the larger protest, and they had tried to tone down the situation by singing over the Black Hebrew Israelite. The encounter between Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, the Omaha elder, was a misunderstood moment out of context.

It’s tempting to think that the short video shown at the Lincoln Memorial shows the truth, and then that the longer video rights or corrects that truth. But the truth on the film is much more complex. Video can often capture actions that people take as truths, but the fact that those validities can easily be called into question offers a good reason to trust video less, rather than more. Truth does not always come fast and easy.

About the Writer
Gwyneth Zamora, Reporter

Hello readers, my name is Gwen and this is my first year at Mason High School. I consider myself as a quiet and reserved person. I love the outdoors and...

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Video Doesn’t Compare to the Truth