Image Ethics: The Moral Rights of Subjects in Photographs, Film, and Television / Edition 1

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This pathbreaking collection of thirteen original essays examines the moral rights of the subjects of documentary film, photography, and television. Image makers—photographers and filmmakers—are coming under increasing criticism for presenting images of people that are considered intrusive and embarrassing to the subject. Portraying subjects in a "false light," appropriating their images, and failing to secure "informed consent" are all practices that intensify the debate between advocates of the right to privacy and the public's right to know. Discussing these questions from a variety of perspectives, the authors here explore such issues as informed consent, the "right" of individuals and minority groups to be represented fairly and accurately, the right of individuals to profit from their own image, and the peculiar moral obligations of minorities who image themselves and the producers of autobiographical documentaries. The book includes a series of provocative case studies on: the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman, particularly Titicut Follies; British documentaries of the 1930s; the libel suit of General Westmoreland against CBS News; the film Witness and its portrayal of the Amish; the film The Gods Must be Crazy and its portrayal of the San people of southern Africa; and the treatment of Arabs and gays on television. The first book to explore the moral issues peculiar to the production of visual images, Image Ethics will interest a wide range of general readers and students and specialists in film and television production, photography, communications, media, and the social sciences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Particularly timely and thought-provoking."—Ethics

"[An] excellent and very readable book that goes a long way to help students understand the rights of victims and subjects in relation to the role of the journalist."—Glenn Novak, West Georgia College

"This invigorating book reminds me of that moment in geological time when Earth shifted on its axis....Adjusting for proportions, Image Ethics fundamentally alters the world of visual imagery....The struggles in Image Ethics over informed consent, pluralism, symbolic annihilation, and o forth have ramifications far beyond the borders of visual media....Merits recognition by serious students within this larger arena. But deliberately connected to narrative ethics in the contributors' future essays of in a subsequent volume, their ethics of representation could serve like an ancient cornerstone of the professional ethics building, squaring up the lines and anchoring its architectural contours."—Journal of Communication

"[A] provocative collection."—Columbia Journalism Review

"The case histories documented here can be read with profit by British practitioners. There are questions to be ansered which some have preferred not to hear....Image Ethics does a valuable service in reminding us that the focused object in the lens is a subject too."—Times literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195067804
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/1991
  • Series: Communication and Society Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Pennsylvania

York University, Ontario

Temple University

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Table of Contents

Preface v
Foreword: Images, Ethics, and Organizations xi
1. Introduction: A Moral Pause 3
2. The Tradition of the Victim in Griersonian Documentary 34
3. Direct Cinema and the Myth of Informed Consent: The Case of Titicut Follies 58
4. Access and Consent in Public Photography 91
5. Ethics and Professionalism in Documentary Film-making 108
6. Ethics and the Perception of Ethics in Autobiographical Film 119
7. Images as Property 135
8. A Study in Multiple Forms of Bias 163
9. The Ethics of (Mis) representation 188
10. Perspectives on the Television Arab 203
11. Hollywood Markets the Amish 220
12. Out of South Africa: The Gods Must Be Crazy 236
13. Lesbian and Gay Documentary: Minority Self-Imaging, Oppositional Film Practice, and the Question of Image Ethics 248
Selected Annotated Bibliography 273
List of Contributors 381
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