Route 663 Rock Bottom

The light changes to green, “Go on, get out,” it whispers.

The bus lurches forward, we sway in unison. Their minds have already jumped miles ahead. The present moment doesn’t exist for them, they’re thinking about dinner cooking at home, they’re scrolling through our phones envious about a friend’s latest trip to Bali, and trying desperately to get their minds off work – when they should feel lucky for having jobs. I can’t jump ahead, I don’t know where I am going and so I’m trapped in the present. And presently we’re coasting past the homeless squats under the railway bridges, I look in with morbid curiosity. In the daytime they are as humble as lambs, but now deep into the night, they cackle as their Gatorade bottle bongs crackle, smoke rising from their bubbling brews. No wonder all the commuters are afraid to look out at them, all except for one. He is old and although his weathered face wears a blank expression, written into the deep lines around his eyes are tales of splendour and misery. He continues fearlessly gazing out at the vagrants. The real fear goes beyond mere boredom, it is what the mind conjures to combat the boredom that is truly terrifying. I can feel it stirring within me now, a buried cask of memories mixing with emotions that have grown potent over the years. Substance will collapse onto style, style will drown in its own blood.

The city lights warp as they shine through the mist climbing out of Yarra, ghostly tendrils claw up the embankment like a swamp monster venturing out from the deep. A gull cries out, its agony echoes out of the fog. No need to imagine any new monsters, there’s enough in Melbourne. I’m leaving it all behind. Too many people, too many ideas. I’m escaping the whores, the fiends, and especially the family and friends – the ones you love hurt you the most. The drunken laughter from the camps fades under the steady rumble of the engine.

I’ll spare them judgement. Everybody has a vice, doesn’t make them a monster. Some vices are vague assortments of fetishes and sins but mine can be measured by kilometres per hour. My main indulgence is speed, distance over time, movement, the closest a man can get to achieving that buried childhood wish of flying and swooping among the birds. Funny that such a dream usually forms within a pram when a child can hardly walk, let alone fly. The sparrow’s swift flight always seemed to bring me feverish excitement despite their tiny size. They also brought me fear as I saw one weaving between cars and disappearing into the impossibly small cracks in the concrete. I feared if his flight were one millimetre off his small body would collide against the bricks, exploding like a firecracker into the same white cotton fluff that filled my teddy bear.

Childhood is over, get with the times. Get on the road. Get on with the job.

Yellow light.

I chuckle to myself. “Yellow means accelerate,” something my larrikin Pop used to say when he taught me how to drive my first motorcycle. A few passengers around me break out of their trance and look at me with confusion. I guess I’m that guy now, the guy so isolated he can’t differentiate thinking from talking aloud. The old man blank expression remains despite my outburst. The bus accelerates, as the driver shoots through the intersection the golden bulb blinds me for a moment. In that short moment, I was taken aback to a far simpler time.

A pair of yellow eyes flickered through the undergrowth. She danced from tree to tree, her bright gaze seemed it might spark a bushfire. Her eyes were a surreal yellow that jumped out at you with their sheer contrast. They had depth and if you weren’t careful you could find yourself falling into them. Looking into her eyes I knew I trusted her. She trusted me, even though she was a bird and I was a boy. I wished to tame her but it was an impossible wish for she was wild. Wild from her dark velvet feathers to her twisting ebon claws. To tame her I would have to clip her wings and if she couldn’t fly then she would cease to be a bird at all.

Teasingly, she jumped from branch to branch, higher up the canopy. She too had an impossible wish I sensed, she wanted me to cast off my earthly fetters and follow her up. If only I could fly: to sprout wings and feel the sun’s warmth far above the winter clouds. The idea appealed to me. I have a hunch that perhaps the opposite appealed to her – that she wished to swap the vehicles of our souls.

To pluck hands, fingers, knees, and toes from her own body– just as she plucks worms from the earth moistened by morning dew.

To pluck all her feathers out except one, which she would dip into the ink as black as her last feather and scrawl a nearly forgotten tale about a bird who was once a boy.

Red light.

The traffic signal is staring at me, its red angry eye looks so enraged it might just burst like a ripe old tomato, leaking pulp out over the asphalt. I flinch at the violent thought and turn my thoughts to the red cherry tomatoes my Pop used to grow. He would look at his plants through the sliding door while sitting in his grand wooden armchair. The sliding doors were so filthy and warped from the sunshine that you could hardly see through them. I remember skipping back and forth past them, I must have been around six or seven, cackling at my warped reflection and my Pop laughing with me.

He wore thick glasses that sat on his proud Italian nose, which was always pointed towards his garden. He still wished he could be out there rather than stuck in that armchair feeling his bones creak like the limbs of a great oak.

“Don’t get old,” he’d tell me half joking.

“Okay, I won’t.”

I can see his soft hazel eyes looking down at me. One second they could show love and the next moment his gaze could cut steel. It is the type of gaze you aren’t born with but is carved into your eyes by sharp moments of love and violence. My Pop saw Egypt, Papua New Guinea, and Libya. He fought through them, he fought for our way of life. I remind myself of this at crucial times, that my day-to-day problems don’t involve a fight against the spread of tyrannical fascism; the stakes aren’t life or death.

I don’t feel the common stresses of life while moving. The rush I feel from speed is not from moving towards something but the comfort of moving away. It’s a naivety, somehow I trick myself into thinking that the problems that haunt my life won’t follow me. I’ve wandered enough to realise that the problem is me, it is a painful fact which took me a long time to admit.

“Hurts like hell to get shot in the gut,” my Pop told me on my tenth birthday. He was shot on the high crest of a sand dune just outside Gaza. He didn’t have time to plug his wound because seconds later his best friend was shot through the head. Down the dune, he dragged his friend and his bleeding guts. Blood never loses its colour when soaked in sand, he recalled to me. So down the side of the dune, a dripping crimson dress was left draped in his wake. He dragged his bleeding guts back to Egypt and dragged his bleeding guts back to Australia. He dragged his bleeding guts to that grand old armchair and watched those cherry red tomatoes drag themselves up from the dirt, and you can bet they stood up straight – to attention.

His pain was worth it, I can only hope mine will be.

Green light. You can go now.


The ghost with a beating heart

There is a ghost who haunts my house, who wanders from room to room. He has never passed through walls, ceilings or floors but I know he is a ghost all the same. He likes to walk alone by the beach, where the waves wash away his shuffled footprints before they are seen by another soul. He is not dead… though he not quite alive. He’s never truly touched or moved the world with any sort of action, neither violent nor gentle. I often wonder what sort of ghost he is:  there’s no similarity to Banquo – our ghost has no taste for revenge – he has no warning to press on the living as Jacob Marley did to Scrooge. In fact, our ghost isn’t even aware he is dead.

Instead, our ghost continues to live an illusion of life. When he likes a film, a book, or an album, he pirates it. No money goes towards the creators and he has no effect on the world. He is smart enough to route the system but not smart enough to see that the artists he enjoys will die off.

His only romance is directed towards his computer screen. It all begins – like these encounters usually do – with a passing glance. In our ghost’s case, he spots a possible mate on the Facebook suggested friends list. He stalks like a lioness creeping along the savannah, his mouse pointer hovers over her profile (not yet daring to click anything), he clicks on the profile. He is hidden and anonymous behind the tall grasslands we call the Internet. He creeps down through the decades as scrolling through the pictures. Maybe he’ll put on a nice song (one he pirated of course). Now relaxed, he’ll think about life as a man instead of a ghost – a life with this phantom girl. He’ll place himself in her pictures: tanning at the beach, hanging out at the mall, lying down in the middle of a meadow looking at the stars. He’ll imagine conversations, emotional, witty, deep conversations that go on for hours. He’ll be staring off daydreaming for so long that his computer screen will go to sleep, he’ll wake from a social media-induced opium dream to find his lonely eyes staring back at himself in the black mirror of the screen.

The true tragedy is that even his fantasies are inadequate. They have pieced together limbs from different romance movies and books. He has never experienced a relationship before and so he plasters his face over Ryan Goslings or Channing Tatum to act out his mental performance. His dates have a soundtrack, they are edited, there is no filler. It is a performance which he plays to himself.

His entire life is simulated, his desires, needs and especially his fears. He only dabbles in reality and treats it as an unfortunately necessary ingredient to fuel his dreams. He obsesses over trivial games, games that are mere imitations and poor ones at that. Living life fully is the greatest game, the stakes couldn’t be higher for our lives are all we have ever had. All over games spawn from this. It’s no coincidence that men perceived as lacking manhood, such as our ghost, often play games with no real consequences. The video games he spends hours at contain safe pleasures though they are small ones and have no real punishment for inadequacy. Only when you can feel the sweat stinging your brow and the satisfying tightness of a muscle pushed beyond what your mind’s expectations, only then will you truly feel human. I mean feel in the truest sense: sensation. The most accessible method of achieving this is physical exertion: to feel your soul bulging at the seams of your body. Pain is not necessary to live a happy life but it helps.

Although the ghost who wanders my house is lonely, he is not alone. I am sure that you already have a certain person in your life in mind who fits the description of my ghost (and if not then maybe you are a ghost). In the past they have always been solitary but now with the socialising capabilities of the internet, enclaves have popped up all over the web. There is safety and power in numbers: colonies of bacteria or swarms of locust are powerful but individually are weak. The same can be found in weak individuals you have never truly felt strength in themselves alone but find solace in a group. In the later 20th century we called them losers, eventually they were distinguished into punks, goths, nerds etc. Now in 21st century we have even groups that would be considered strange by the  last century’s losers: Bronies, Furries, Anime obsessed weeaboos, and Social Justice Warriors to name some of the more well known. Good for them you might say, well you would be mistaken in thinking that. Although humans are social animals and extreme isolation is incredibly unhealthy, sometimes poor company can be equally unhealthy. These enclaves can’t be compared to supportive groups because they don’t acknowledge their insecurities and issues, rather they encourage further envelopment into their strange hobbies. The main similarities between them are their fear of being weak, their emphasis of their victimhood, and an avoidance of adult responsibilities.

If this was enough to find them pathetic, simply look at their warped ideas of sex. Freud would have a field day with these specimens. Sexualisation and fetishes are all warped from the same vanilla brand of sex. BDSM for example is the inclusion of pain into a world usually reserved for pleasure. It becomes disgusting when individuals who refuse to grow up also refuse to give up sexual desire. As a result we see fandom’s move into sexualised territory. Children’s television shows are turned into masturbatory material for sex starved losers. Nothing is sacred, not even a show as innocent as My Little Pony. These groups are distinctive but are merely minority groups of a larger problem.

Half the world seems to be walking around in diapers, dragging their shit filled pants from one obligation to another. No one’s in control or is responsible; we follow the phantoms of wealth, status and fame – led on with celebrity news and television like a donkey following a carrot hung in front of him. The more we pursue these illusory goals the further they move away, we always need more. Goals that bring real satisfaction are always straight forward (not to say they can’t be complex) and are related to survival. War is an excellent example of this concept. PTSD rarely occurs while the soldier is still at war but when he returns back to his country he finds a home where neighbour fights neighbour, ties to friends and family who bicker and backstab each other seem like nothing to the brotherhood formed under battle. These are things that allow a human to truly feel as if he is alive, sex, love, war, revenge, hunger, thirst, misery, grief, terror, joy, euphoria, bliss, revelation. I believe the worst someone can feel is depressed, to feel numb to all things. A life of joy is undoubtedly better than a life of misery, but I would rather live in misery than be deprived of any meaning at all.

In today’s society the stakes are lower. We still fight for our lives as our ancestors did but we do not fight against disease, invaders, animals, or savages. Instead we fight for our lives shift by shift. We are still fighting for our lives as every person must do, however in this era our enemies are advertisers who’s sword and shield are laced with deceit and treachery – selling us items that we had no use for before we were beguiled into spending our money. And don’t be mistaken into thinking I’m just referring to the men and women whose faces cringe with smiles tainted with ill will you see on the television with a sandwich toaster-vacuum combination, I also include army recruiters, university professors, charity fundraisers, your boss, and even your mother In this world we can be slain while breath still passes through our lips for decades longer, and god have mercy on you if you have a last moment of clarity on your deathbed – that in your final moments, as the death rattle echoes out of your throat, you realise that you gave the most valuable years of your life away with complacency.

So foul ghost, before you find yourself staring into the void — with only the memories of a settle-for-wife, water cooler conversations, and your children growing up to live lives as dead as you are – burn thy bones. Ignite them quickly else you’ll find the only mark you will have made on God’s green earth will be the six foot ditch your family dug to forgot you all the sooner.


Leading The Pack: Our Youth

Chris Scrob

Because ambition outweighs experience.

Adventurous, ambitious and visionary. To some, these words are nothing more than adjectives – to me, these are the qualities which are inextricably linked to our youth. It is these qualities that advance society into its next tier, its next innovation, ready to tackle what lies beyond.


Vision & Ambition

“This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” — Robert Kennedy.

Young people are embedded with a restless nature, or as I like to call it; a catalyst to change. It’s like an invisible hand pushing you into the depths of an urgent challenge, only to realise that you can emerge from the chasm as an agent of change. Such is the life…

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I’m publishing my first book!

Death to Fanatics

Hello!  I have been writing stories on this writing blog since I was 16 and have now compiled those stories/poetry (and more!) into an ebook that has been 3 years in the making.

Gabriel’s Horn

” A collection of short stories worth stealing.

Who’s in the Illuminati?
Was the moon landing faked?
What are they hiding in Area 51?
Why doesn’t she love me anymore?

Classic questions we all love to ponder!
In this book you won’t find any answers to them, but you might just have some fun. ”

…If you have found my blogposts, insightful or funny in the past, you should check it out.

And a huge thank you to all my followers who have supported me over the years. your motivation and feedback has been invaluable to me. And I wouldn’t have written a book without your help.

Much love,

View original post

Cover Final

I’m publishing my first book!

Hello!  I have been writing stories on this writing blog since I was 16 and have now compiled those stories/poetry (and more!) into an ebook that has been 3 years in the making.

Gabriel’s Horn

” A collection of short stories worth stealing.

Who’s in the Illuminati?
Was the moon landing faked?
What are they hiding in Area 51?
Why doesn’t she love me anymore?

Classic questions we all love to ponder!
In this book you won’t find any answers to them, but you might just have some fun. ”

…If you have found my blogposts, insightful or funny in the past, you should check it out.

And a huge thank you to all my followers who have supported me over the years. your motivation and feedback has been invaluable to me. And I wouldn’t have written a book without your help.

Much love,


Pharaoh Akhenaten: Eccentric, Philosopher, Artist, Living God and Prophet

The Amarna period was marked by the inauguration of Akhenaten, the prince formerly known as Amenhotep IV. Succeeding his father Amenhotep III, Akhenaten then reigned for 17 years married to the famously beautiful Nefertiti. In those 17 years he revolutionised Egyptian culture, enacting great changes in religion, art, and politics. Akhenaten also created a new capital city from which he ruled which we refer to as Amarna because of the Beni Amran tribe that lived in the area but in its time it was called Akhetaten, or Horizon of Aten by the ancient Egyptians. Amarna is located on the East Bank of the Nile, roughly 200 miles south of Cairo and 250 miles north of Luxor. The short duration of its occupancy combined with the fact the site was built on virgin soil and the large Amarna Letter collection that was discovered allow us to “reconstruct an unusually accurate picture” of life in the city (Encyclopedia Britannica 2016).

From this accurate picture of the city, we can reconstruct a comparison of life in Ancient Egypt before, during and after, Akhenaten. The most marked difference was seen in Akhenaten’s religious revolution which replaced the traditional polytheistic religion centred on Amun-Ra with a new semi-monotheistic religion that worshipped Aten above all over gods (David 1998, 125). Amun-Ra had been the customary cult of choice for the royal family and a great many temples were located in Thebes, which may have been one of the motivations for the construction of Akhetaten. Unlike the other traditional Egyptian’s Gods who took on anthropomorphic forms, Aten was seen as a solar deity above mere Gods and whose form was represented by the sun whose rays extended downwards ending in hands reaching down from the heavens.

Figure 1: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their daughters under Aten (Kemp 1992, 282)

It was not unusual for a pharaoh to associate himself with a certain God, however, Akhenaten was the first to proclaim himself the living embodiment of a God proclaiming himself as “the dazzling Aten” (Van Dijk 2004, 276). Some scholars have even compared Akhenaten’s relationship to Aten to Jesus Christ’s relationship to God supporting their argument with Akhenaten’s self-descriptions of being “Thine only son that came forth from thy body” and “the eternal son that came forth from the Sun-Disc” (Redford 1987). I would reject these notions as leaping to conclusions, as Redford concludes “there is little or no evidence to support the notion that Akhenaten was a progenitor of the full-blown monotheism that we find in the Bible” (1996). Perhaps there is a possibility in the speculations of Sigmund Freud that Akhenaten, like Moses, was striving to for a completely monotheistic religion but ultimately the Egyptian people rejected the cult of Aten unlike Judaism (112, 1939). Despite the full measure’s Akhenaten took to distance the Egyptian people from the old religion, it was a mere four years after his death that his son Tutankhaten took the throne and moved the capital back to Thebes and took the name Tutankhamun to reinforce the restoration of the cult of Amun and rejection of Aten. And so the worship of Aten disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

As with Akhenaten’s other sudden changes the Amarna art style was also a swift break from the established style and was revolved around the new worship of Aten. Before the Amarna period, the style of Egyptian art changed very little and at a slow rate. The way Akhenaten is depicted in illustration and sculpture differed greatly from past pharaohs, portraying himself as an almost androgynous figure with “an elongated neck, almost feminine breasts, a round protruding belly, wide hips, and fat thighs” (Van Dijk 2004, 281). Some theories have suggested that Akhenaten may have suffered from genetic abnormality due to incestuous parentage, but I would agree with Montserrat’s dissertation of that theory and that Akhenaten’s exaggerated physical portrayal “is not to be read literally” (2000, 36). Most speculation points towards Akhenaten wanting to portray male as well as female elements in his images,  posing as “the mother and father of the Egyptian state emphasising his close affinity with Aten” (McArthur 2011, 33). However, Akhenaton’s symbolic mother and father position did not extend to foreign nations.
Figure 2: Akhenaten’s androgynous figure
(,%20akhenaten/ accessed 02/05/2016.)

Foreign relations deteriorated greatly as of a result of the religious reforms in which Egypt’s concerns stopped at their own borders. Even despite Egypt’s relatively wealth and prosperity, Akhenaton simply ignored requests from neighbouring nations for assistance in their various affairs choosing to remain inwardly occupied in only affairs within Egypt’s borders (Mark 2014). Even 50 letters for military assistance sent by Rib-Haddi, the king of Byblos, which was one of Egypt’s closest allies at the time were largely ignored (Watterson 112). Akhenaton’s neglect of foreign politics even took the form of annoyance demanding from Rib-Haddi “why do you alone keep writing to me?” as quoted in Amarna Letter EA 117 (Moran 193). This relationship heavily contrasts from his father and precursor Amenhotep III whose approach to foreign policy resulted in a significant peace treaty with the Mitanni leading to a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic flourishing for Egypt.


Akhenaten’s legacy is a difficult topic to discuss. On one hand, the heretic king’s memory was “scorned as that of a felon”, his religion and city were abandoned after his death (Freud 1939, 26). However, more than 3000 years after his death and Akhenaton still attracts fascination as well as inspiring many artists, writers, and musicians from Agatha Christie to Philip Glass. Whether his reign was an ultimately positive influence on religion and politics in Ancient Egypt could be debated endlessly with no clear answer. Though what is clear is that Akhenaten is truly deserving of the title of “the first individual in history” (Breasted 1933, 301). Although he failed as to manage proper relations with many neighbouring empires I reason that he eclipsed this small pitfall with the freedom he gave to the artists, sculptures and musicians of his era. For he was a man that challenged the ordinary and accepted norms of his time, to which he deserves only respect for having the daring to bring a dangerous dream into reality.



















Ancient Sources

Amenhotep IV/ Akhenaten

1350BCs – 1330BCs                                          Amarna Letter EA 117


Modern Sources

Breasted, J.H.

1933.                     The Dawn of Conscience (edit), p.301.

Encyclopedia Britannica.

2016.                     Tell el-Amarna.

Available at:, accessed 07 May 2016.

Frankfurter, D.

1998.                     Religion in Roman Egypt. 1st Edition. Princeton University Press.

Freud, S.

1939.                     Moses and Monotheism: Three Essays. Knopf.

Kemp B.

1992.                     Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization. Reprint Edition. Routledge.

Mark, J.

2014.                     Akhenaten – Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Available at:, accessed 08 May 2016.


McArthur, R.

2011.                     Egyptian Art: The Amarna Revolution

Available at:, accessed 08 May 2016.

Montserrat, D.

2000.                     Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt. Routledge.

Moran, W.

2000.                     The Amarna Letters. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Project Amarna.

2016.                     Location – Amarna Project.

Available at:, accessed 07 May 2016.

Redford, D.

1987.                     The Monotheism of the Heretic Pharaoh. Biblical Archaeology Review.

Available at:, accessed 09 May 2016.


Redford, D.

1996.                     Aspects of Monotheism. Biblical Archeology Review.

Rosalie D.

1998.                     Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. Facts on File Inc.

Van Dijk, J.

2004.                     The Amarna Period And The Later New Kingdom. The Oxford History Of Ancient

Egypt. Ian Shaw. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, 2004. Pg. 272-287.

Watterson, B.

1997.                     The Egyptians (Peoples of Africa). 1st Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.




The vulture and the little girl

Photojournalism Scandal: The power of a thousand words

The visual medium has always been more striking at first glance than text. Likewise extra attention is given more to scandals compared to the daily reported stories which make up the nightly news. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that scandal and photojournalism have developed a deeply intertwined relationship. Photographs of scandals have the power to capture the attentions of thousands, which is why they have often been used as blackmail. This audience attracting power is not only used by tabloid publications but also by most forms of mainstream media. A common example is a celebrity who is held in high regard and the scandal comes as a shock (although we are often filled with glee at their downfall) because it is a massive contradiction to what we thought we knew about the individual. The subject doesn’t have to exclusively be a person however; the important point is the information is a new contradiction with a shock factor attached. Scandals spread like gossip, when you receive information that goes against the commonly held notions of the gals at the hairdressers/bros at the gym, you are prompted to inform them of their fresh ignorance (probably with considerable glee as well). This in turn spreads the story further without the media spending another cent. Brilliant.

Only it’s not so brilliant when the scandal is focused on the media itself, as seen from Adnan Hajj Controversy or “Reutersgate” in which a photo of an airstrike on Beirut during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict was found to have been digitally altered as exposed by watchdog blogger Charles Johnson (2006). Johnson pointed out the smoke billowing out of city in the photo had clearly been enlarged and manipulated to appear darker and several buildings were cloned using Photoshop “in an obvious manner” (2006). The image of the sky polluted of dark smoke bellowing out of the airstrike site is eerily reminiscent of iconic and World Press Awarded pictures taken of the 9/11 terror attacks by Robert Clark (2011).


Whether this resemblance was intentional or not, the altered photograph paints a significantly more devastated looking scene when compared to the true original. This is not the first time a photograph has been digitally altered to present a darker version of reality. In the aftermath of O.J Simpson’s 1994 arrest TIME Magazine infamously published a doctored mug shot that had been darkened to appear more menacing and to arguably emphasis Simpson’s race (Carmody 1994).

In cases like these, it appears the desire for a ‘new contradiction’ has overcome the integrity of an opportunistic photojournalist. The advent of Photoshop and digital photographing technology has opened many doors for photography but also provided greater temptation and ease for those wanting to tamper their photos. Plenty of photographers use Photoshop to change colouring and lighting in slight ways in order to improve their photos. However here Adnan went further than just enhancing aesthetic qualities and had ventured into changing the meaning of the photograph. Consequently, an apology was made and freelance photographer Adnan Hajj’s employment at Reuters was terminated (NBC News 2006).

Following the logic of ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ the rest of Hajj’s Israel-Lebanon photos were then placed under scrutiny. It was revealed he had used Photoshop to manipulate another photograph of an Israeli fighter jet which he manipulated into appearing as if it was firing “missiles during an airstrike” when it was in fact deploying a defensive flare (Malkin 2006). Further controversy erupted surrounding Adnan’s photos of the “Green Helmet Man” posing as a rescue worker parading around dead children for the press. Once again the blogosphere cut through Reuter’s statement that “[we] have rejected all allegations that the photographs were staged” (ABC 2006) with video evidence revealing him as Salam Daher, an actor and director of gruesome Hezbollah propaganda whom had been operating since 1996 (ZT 2006).  And although it’s unclear whether Adnan or Reuters were aware of this or simply willing dupes they cannot excused for participating in the creation of pro-jihadist propaganda.

In grim irony, Adnan’s photos would be attractive to Hezbollah for the same shock factor that got them published by Reuters in the first place. And so it appears the common scaremongering which modern audiences have come to expect from the media was hiding Reuter’s darker secret; warmongering. Fanning the flames of war is immoral in any context but is especially despicable when it is done for profit. Images are powerful tools: from Che Guevara to Uncle Sam, pictures have influenced vast amounts of people to violence. Reuters are equally contemptible as the arms dealers who sell weapons to radical groups such as Hezbollah. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but a camera’s power rivals both of them and this is not a power to be meddled with. Absolute objectivity and ethical standards need to be upheld by photojournalists. Bloggers and citizen journalists can only do so much, serious action needs to be taken to extinguish this exploitation, especially when the stakes are life or death.

Over 1400 civilians were killed in the 2006 Lebanon-Israel conflict (Frisk 2006). Will the next Middle Eastern conflict be exacerbated by the media due to exploitive voyeurism and scaremongering? And if so how many more people will die as a result? Questions of exploitation have always surrounded photojournalism that focuses on war and humanitarian disasters. For some the accusations were too much, Kevin Carter who won “the Pulitzer prize for his disturbing photograph of a Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture” (Neal 2016) and then killed himself that same year. Many were angered that he didn’t help the starving child himself and questioned if the real vulture was actually behind the lens.

The vulture and the little girl

This view is far too cynical. We could say the same of doctors who make their living off the suffering of others despite them being revered in our culture. And like doctors, photojournalists have a commitment to maintaining the health, not of the body, but of society’s conscious. There is no point denying that life has its shocks and scandals, however from the overwhelming evidence it is clear that Reuters and Adnan Hajj have truly broken their own Hippocratic Oaths. Photojournalism does have the potential to inform, inspire, and influence the world in a positive manner. That is, as long as it resists the disease of sensationalism and fabrication of scandals.


ABC.. 2006. Reuters drops freelance Lebanese photographer over image. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2016].

Carmody, Deirdre. 1994. Time Responds to Criticism Over Simpson Cover. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 April 2016].

Clark, Rob. 2011. From my roof on 9-11. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 April 2016].

Estrin, James. 2014. Truth and Consequences for a War Photographer . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 April 2016].

Frisk, Robert.2006. Lebanon Death Toll Hits 1,300. (August 17, 2006) The Independent. [Accessed 19 April 2016].

Johnson, Charles. 2016. Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut? – Little Green Footballs. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 April 2016].

Malkin, Michelle. 2006. Photographer’s Exposure: Just the tip of pro-jihadist iceberg. (August 11, 2006). The Free Lance-Star.  [Accessed 20 April 2016].

NBC News. 2006. Photographer fired over altered images. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 April 2016].

Neal, Leslie. 2016. How Photojournalism Killed Kevin Carter. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 16 April 2016].

Strauss, David. 2016. Doctored Photos – The Art of the Altered Image | TIME. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 April 2016].

  1. 2016. Reuters Photo Fraud. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 April 2016].