The reasons the flow of words and images threatens repressive institutions and assist forms of liberation are obvious, I guess, but today I've been thinking also about how images become "iconic" almost too quickly, especially with the advent of global electronic communication.
For my generation of Americans, iconic images proliferated: fire-hoses and dogs released on African Americans protesting in the South; still-photos created from the Zapruder film (and "the Zapruder film" becoming an iconic phrase); Oswald photographed crying out in pain and surprise at the moment Jack Ruby guns him down; the naked child napalmed in Viet Nam; the North Viet Namese prisoner executed by a South Viet Namese officer; Bobby Kennedy dying, lying on the floor of a kitchen; Martin Luther King lying on the balcony of a motel; the student at Kent State kneeling beside her dead friend, her arms raised in a plea; and on and on.
Now the image of a woman named Neda Agha Soltan, shot and killed in Iran, has become iconic--too quickly, perhaps. One has the urge to pause and to think of her as who she was: one person, one woman, with friends and family, one consciousness, an endlessly rich web of memories, ideas, images, emotions. A life, one life--not an "icon." Neda Agha Soltan.