The over-the-top public mourning for Kim Jong Il isn’t fake, Philip Kennicott asserts in Tuesday’s Style section. But others disagree. On a new Tumblr called “100% Genuine Reactions to Kim Jong Il’s Death,” photos of “genuine reactions” are Photoshopped with the faces of faux-weeping jokesters who imply that the North Koreans are shedding crocodile tears.
When videos first emerged of the public displays of mourning, The Post’s Melissa Bell suggested some in the crowd appeared to be fakers. “Though many people toward the front of the lines appear to be truly grieving, much of the emotion appears orchestrated. Faces toward the back of the crowd seem dry-eyed. One soldier looks more bored than sad. In another scene, two young boys stand in a group of prostrating adults looking confused. In another clip, the camera pans over three men who appear to be laughing, rather than crying, and the camera is quickly jerked away.”
However, as Kennicott wrote, “They are manifestations of crowd power. People for whom the state is an organized spectacle — mass rallies, marches, airtight propaganda — are suddenly acting in the spectacle themselves. Emotions that seem to suggest genuine love of the leader are emotions nonetheless.”
If the people are feeling real pain, albeit one that we might not understand, the Tumblr raises questions about the fine line between satire and making fun of people who are feeling real pain. “Genuine Reactions” walks a fine line between cruelty and commentary.