I’ll take a photo of you (mug shot)

On May 5, 2007, the world stopped. To be precise, it was my world that stopped. This world made of American reality TV shows, Joan Rivers commenting on Vera Wang’s (horrific) red carpet looks, plastic surgery clinics and pre-Botox Kardashian spin-offs, told at every hour of the day by E! The fun came to a halt after it was announced that Paris Hilton would have to serve forty-five days in jail for drunk driving. It was shocking news, as Mediaset before Pierre Silvio would have said. But above all, it was an iconic pop culture moment (sorry) of 2000 that would add another layer to the unstoppable rise of Paris (we’re living in the years of the historic Lindsay and Britney in the car photo) and provide us with one of the most memorable images Hilton: photograph of his arrest.

Smoky eyes, freshly painted lips, slightly wavy hair swept to the side, perfect skin, a soft girly look before it became a TikTok trend. The image spreads around the world (in the pre-Instagram era), appears everywhere, appears to have been shot by Tillmans, ends up on t-shirts, mugs, and becomes a meme (many) years later. We know how it ends: Paris will only serve twenty-three days in prison (she’ll emerge from prison wearing a stunning green Petro Zillia jacket), but she’s already entered the iconography of famous people’s photographs.

Brief description of the service: photography (from “mug“, a term used to refer to a “bad guy”, and “shot“, frame) consists of a pair of images in which the arrested person appears from the front and in profile. It’s a photographic format that we’ve learned about through movies, The Simpsons (in an awesome episode), and the media (especially when they’re owned by celebrities). However, it did not originate in the United States, but in the nineteenth century in France by Alphonse Bertillon, an anthropologist and official of the prefecture of Paris. It was he who first formalized the standard pair of front and profile photographs, accompanied by information necessary for personal identification.

End of explanation, let’s go back to the 2000s. Like everything Paris did in those years, it seems like this is happening for the first time. There are still sixteen years left before Donald Trump is indicted and his photo will be the first, for real, photo of a former President of the United States (we’ll get to that later). Still, Paris, who may have invented the selfie with Britney, isn’t the first celebrity to appear in the photo, but she is part of a long tradition of snapshots that have in some ways contributed to the popularity of artists. immortalized.

Essentially this is cultural moment. An image that from a spot, an accident, becomes a symbolic element, becomes an exponent of a message, a reason, an idea. It crystallizes a stage, even a historical moment, that seems to renew careers rather than destroy them. And the pose conveys intent, as popular culture expert Nick Ede says: “Some of the world’s biggest stars have taken mug shots. Historically, there have been two approaches to photography. There are celebrities who make choices in favor of their appearance humble pie, that is, a humble look, a lowered chin and a deliberately embarrassed look in front of the camera. Or there are people like Justin Bieber who prefer to smile as if it’s a photo shoot or he’s shooting the cover of his next album.”

Photography can become a political act in years when a holiday in Ibiza is just a holiday in Ibiza. On November 3, 1970, Jane Fonda was arrested for the first time. She was under special surveillance by the FBI and CIA for a long time because of her anti-Vietnam activities. He has short dark hair and shaggy bangs. While she is being photographed, she raises her fist defiantly. The grainy black-and-white image that would be published next would shape a generation of female activists. Kirsten Swint, a Fordham University professor and scholar of American women’s history, has no doubt about the visual power of this image: “At the time, it was expected that a woman would appear in public fully made up, dressed respectably, with a skirt, a belt. Instead, Jane Fonda’s photo tells women: You can be something other than what society tells you you are.” Not only that, but this picture will also start a trend. The bangs she’s wearing in her photo are the same bangs that Fonda will wear on screen in the crime thriller. Inspector Clute’s call girl.and which became the symbolic hairstyle of those years, the “Clute cut,” which is still a symbol of feminine strength today.

Thirty-seven years passed between the arrests of Jane Fonda and Paris Hilton. Before them, activists such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King had already been arrested and immortalized. In between are photographs of actors such as Hugh Grant, arrested on charges of lewd acts in a public place, Charlie Sheen, accused of domestic violence, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey, Keanu Reeves, Macaulay Culkin, Mel Gibson, Mickey Rourke.

Lindsay Lohan, friend and enemy of Paris, collected six photographs from 2007 to 2013. Almost silkscreened by Andy Warhol. The latter is, as we would say today, a mood: a glance into the room gives us a mixture of swagger, fun and swagger. This is his personal mysterious smile. Last year, a photograph of David Bowie, who was jailed with Iggy Pop for possession of cannabis, sold at auction for around £4,000. In the video about American boyKanye West wears a pin with a photo of Michael Jackson. Cher appeared in her first (and last) photograph at the age of thirteen. Bill Gates also has a photo of himself in which he has thick blond hair.

We arrive in 2023. On August 24, Fulton County in Georgia will release a photo of Donald Trump: furrowed brow, cloud of orange-blond hair, stare don’t fuck with me to which he taught us. This is the image of the arch-Trumpian. This becomes a product line of T-shirts, stickers, mugs, posters, thermoses with the slogan (“Never give up!“), paving the way for his second run for the White House. Everyone agrees that this is the most historical image of our era. But no one, looking at her, will ever say: it is hot!

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