One photograph that sums it all up

Normally we’re underwhelmed by photo contests sponsored by journalistic organizations, which tend to honor only the predictable extremes: scenes of decorative whimsy or of excruciating strife. But the recently announced winner of the World Press Photo of the Year award (from thousands of photographs submitted by photojournalists all over the planet) perfectly captures something precise about our times.

The picture, by American photographer Spencer Platt, is captioned “Young Lebanese drive through devastated neighborhood of South Beirut, 15 August.” The “Young Lebanese” happen to be a sports car full of women who have clearly devoted a lot of energy to trying to look sexy in a global-celebutard sort of way. It’s like they were hoping to be hounded by paparazzi, but ended up instead in a war photographer’s viewfinder.

There you have it: a single image that depicts the Age of Britney and the Age of Terror.

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One photograph that sums it all up