Above: A screen-grab from a video unrelated to the Dail Mail news story below. Credit: YouPorn.

One Photo is Worth a Death

Daily Mail, 14 May, 2018: "A mother has been charged with inciting an assault by allegedly sending her jealous ex-boyfriend an explicit sexual photograph of herself with her new man leading to a confrontation that ended in murder. Former law student Sarah Bramley, 29, is alleged to have sent a picture of herself performing a sex act on her new beau Michael Lawson, 34, to her former partner David Saunders, 33. [Bramley performing fellatio on Lawson.] The picture 'tipped Saunders over the edge' and he crossed town to lie in wait for Mr Lawson, stabbing him to death in the street in Darlington, County Durham, last July. Saunders was jailed for life - with a minimum term of 22 and a half years - at Teesside Crown Court last year. Now Bramley is facing trial on incitement-related charges, after a judge ruled the explicit photo she sent to Saunders had 'a very important bearing' on his actions."

"One photo is worth a thousand words," is an often-quoted British expression that is typically cited in the context of journalism: a single photo can often convey much of what the reader needs to know and is therefore preferable to tedious detailed written descriptions (editors at newspapers fetishize brevity and efficiency). The precise origin of the phrase is much debated but it was surely first seen in print around 1910: it is a twentieth-century expression. One classic example of this phrase in action: the glossy ten-by-eights of a murder scene--or the condition of a cadaver--that are introduced into Hollywood movie narratives and which function to connote the level of debased evil that an antagonist is capable of. (The Detective takes one look at the death-scene photos and pushes them away in disgust ... no words are necessary ... the killer is patently deranged.)

A photo that is integral to a murder being committed is a modern phenomenon, particularly if we include extremist radicalization images. And here (above) is an indicative example of the way in which a photo shared via social media or a messaging app can function as a catalyst for horrifying Real World events. One photo is no longer worth a thousand words, but ... a death. "One photo is worth a death." That is the updated twenty-first century version of the gnomic maxim.

(16 May 2018)