Caroline Rothstein on how Kids came about and what happened to the young actors who starred in the film.
Two decades after a low-budget film turned Washington Square skaters into international celebrities, the kids from Kids struggle with lost lives, distant friendships, and the fine art of growing up.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares a list of 20 things he wish he’d know when he was 30 years old.
18. Watch more TV. Yeah, you heard right, Little Kareem. It’s great that you always have your nose in history books. That’s made you more knowledgeable about your past and it has put the present in context. But pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.
Jonathan Hobin Recreates the World’s Most Infamous Tragedies with Children
Jonathan Hobin is a Canadian photographer whose series In the Playroom features a range of children reenacting some of the most brutal news stories of our generation, from Jonbenet Ramsey’s death and the Siegfried and Roy tiger mauling to 9/11 and the threat of nuclear war. At first glance it’s hard to tell if the children in the photos understand the horror they’re conveying or if they’re just having a lot of fun. Regardless,many people have reacted strongly. The photos have been described as sick, pure shock, and tasteless, self-indulgent masturbation. Even the children’s parents have been vilified for their involvement.
If you’re in Canada this week, In the Playroom is coming to Toronto for an exhibition at the Gladstone. I gave Jonathan a call at his home in Ottawa to talk about the criticism he’s received, the way kids absorb the news, how his entire series is a criticism of Western media, and whether or not we’re all giant kids playing adults. Oh, and he was nice enough to give us some photos that have not yet been shown anywhere online. So take a look for yourself.
VICE: What kind of feedback have you been getting from the kids in these photos?
Jonathan Hobin: For the most part they just have a lot of fun. They are given permission to do what they are often scolded for doing—acting as crazy as they want. The funny thing is, kids play games where they kill each other all the time. Whenever a kid plays with a water pistol they’re pretending to kill someone. It’s something we see constantly. I’m directly referencing where kids might be learning to do those things and that makes people very uncomfortable
What do the parents think, generally?
I have never photographed a kid without having a clear dialogue with the parents about what the intention is and what I expect the images to be. Some people seem to think that these parents are making money off this in some way, or that they’re fame-seekers. I have yet to really encounter a stage mom. I don’t know if that’s an American anomaly… I’m not sure. I feel like maybe that’s a stereotype and those things aren’t necessarily a factor in Canada. Most of these parents, they’re well-educated, they get the arguments, and they think the photos portray a valid point that they want to participate in.
There was one circumstance with the Jonbenet Ramsey photograph where the girl is, essentially, imitating a child murder victim after a sexual attack. We were very cautious in moving forward with that one. The girl was unfazed, but the mother was clearly concerned and clearly cautious about moving forward. But I think any healthy parent would be very cautious with something like that.
Do the kids understand the scenes they’re portraying?
Sometimes the kids just get it. Like the 9/11 picture. Even though they are three or four years old, they saw the twin towers and said, “I’ll hold the airplane, this is where the plane hit the building.” The mother was stunned. These symbols have worked their way into our subconscious. They are so ingrained in our culture, and they’re instantly recognizable. On the other hand, one of the new images is about acid attacks. With those kids, you’d say, “You’re fighting. To hurt that person you pour something that will sting on them.” You talk to them in terms they’re going to understand. And they understand it’s one person hurting another person—that’s the big picture. To start talking about specifics, like bringing in culture, religion… things like that, I think that’s just too big for them to handle. They get the broad strokes. I’m sure it makes for some very interesting conversations on the way home from the photo shoot.
I want to go to there.
Listening to Gang of Four and dancing like this and also I am in public right now.
1. The US incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world: Approximately 1 in 100 adults or more than 2.2 million people are behind bars in the US, according to the Pew Center on the States. In addition, another 4.6 million (or a total of almost 7 million) people live under some form of correctional supervision.
Although the US is widely recognised as a “land of liberty”, it could also be described as a nation of prisons. It incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. Its imprisonment rate (per capita) is almost 50 percent higher than Russia’s and 320 percent higher than China’s.
Within the western hemisphere, the US incarcerates five times as many people per capita as Canada and almost 2.5 times as many as Mexico.
2. Mass incarceration is not a result of higher crime rates: The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world not because it has higher crime rates, but because it imprisons more types of criminal offenders, including non-violent and drug offenders, and keeps them in prison longer.
With the exception of homicide, US crime rates are comparable to other European countries with much lower incarceration rates.
High incarceration rates are the result of “truth in sentencing”, “mandatory minimum” and “three strikes” laws which have limited judicial discretion in sentencing and parole release. As a result, sentences are now mainly determined by what the prosecutor decides to charge. And prosecutors routinely over-charge defendants in order to encourage plea agreements.
An egregious, but not unusual, recent example illustrates this point. In 2012, a Florida woman, who fired a “warning shot” in the direction of her physically abusive ex-husband (who was not hit by the bullet), was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The judge, as a result of mandatory sentencing legislation, was given no discretion in her sentencing. He sentenced her to 20 years in prison.
3. Mass incarceration disproportionately impacts US racial minorities: Mass incarceration has had a devastating effect on blacks and Hispanics in the US. African Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person and non-white Latinos are almost three times more likely to be incarcerated, according to the Pew Center on the States.
Incarceration hits hardest at young black and Latino men without high school education. An astounding 11 percent of black men, aged between 20 and 34, are behind bars.
Much of the racial disparity is a result of the US’ war on drugs - started by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. By 1988, blacks were arrested on drug charges at five times the rate of whites.
By 1996, the rate of drug admissions to state prison for black men was 13 times greater than the rate for white men. This is despite the fact that African Americans use drugs at roughly the same rate as white Americans.
4. Mass incarceration is expensive: Imprisoning people is not cheap. The average cost of housing an inmate is approximately $20,000 to $30,000 per year. This price tag comes at the direct expense of public money that could be spent on public education, medical care and public assistance. And it is one reason why so many states face fiscal crises today.
To put this in perspective, the state of California spends 2.5 times more money housing and feeding its inmates than it does educating students. California is not alone: five states “spend more on corrections than higher education”, a 2008 Pew Center study revealed.
5. Mass incarceration disguises the US’ real unemployment rate and exacerbates inequality: The current unemployment rate in the US is high. And if we factored in all the people who are not looking for work because they are behind bars, it would be higher - especially among young black Americans and people without a high school diploma.
A recent research by Becky Petit reveals:
“Employment-population rates adjusted to include inmates suggest that only 26 percent of young black, male dropouts were employed in 2008, while over 37 percent were in prison or jail. Over half of the joblessness of young, black, and male dropouts is linked to incarceration.”
Incarceration also negatively impacts former prisoner’s ability to earn a decent living. Several studies suggest that there are at least six million “ex-prisoners” living within society and when they look for a job, they are 50 percent less likely to be hired than job seekers without a criminal record.
Former prisoners are paid less than those who have not been to prison. In addition, incarceration of a parent reduces a child’s prospects for economic mobility.
(Photo: John Makely / NBC News)
BREEZY POINT, N.Y. — The construction noises are almost constant at daytime in this coastal enclave six months after Hurricane Sandy, but for many residents whose homes were badly damaged, recovery is moving at a slow pace – or not at all.
Loyalty to my team is the real reason I didn’t come out sooner. When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in. I was ready to open up to the press, but I had to wait until the season was over.
A college classmate tried to persuade me to come out then and there. But I couldn’t yet. My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I’ve struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.
The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn’t say a thing. I didn’t want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.