It’s Just Two Kids Holding Hands, Right? – How We Perceive Images

Images in the media often allow us to expand our thoughts in a number of ways. They can give us a frame to which base our thoughts and expectations off, much like the iconic image of children running from the Hiroshima Bomb site, which framed our minds as to the horrors of nuclear weaponry and the damage it causes.

They can allow us to delve deep into our personal contexts to better understanding the full background of the issue at hand, like the image of the man standing in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, which depending on your knowledge of the Chinese protests, could either be a fully fledged symbol of the movement or simply a man standing in front of a bunch of tanks, presumably lost on his way to work.

Images allow us a window into our own minds and how we perceive certain images varies greatly on what we know individually and what we can draw from the image. So that is why when I present this following image, some of you reading this may not immediately understand what this image is about.

Sourced from dailymail.co.uk

Sourced from dailymail.co.uk

To a lot of you, this image simply looks like two kids holding hands in front of a crowd. Nothing serious or sinister here, but rather a nice photo that these kids can pull out on their 21sts and have a good laugh over. This is merely the Denotation of the image, a term used by Roland Barthes to simply mean; ‘What is there?’ However, once you look deeper into the image, several different interpretations arise out of the image, depending on your own context and what this simple image means.

The first interpretation I am going to discuss is the interpretation from someone who knows a bit about football and its history in England. The shirts belong to two local rivals in England, Everton (Blue) and Liverpool (Red) and the numbers on the back represent the amount of people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, where 96 people died during an FA Cup match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forrest. This photo was taken at the Merseyside Derby, the regular match between the two sides on the 20th anniversary of the disaster,and it signifies that sport means so much more to people than a simple form of recreation.

Scenes from the Hillsborough Disaster as fans attempt to escape the overcrowding and the resulting crush. Sourced from telegraph.co.uk

However, there is an even deeper meaning to this photo that can be picked up on. As both Everton and Liverpool are in the same city, this image can be seen as not only two football clubs, but also an entire city banding together in a show of support in order to achieve proper justice for the 96 people who passed away in the tragedy.

Everton and Liverpool have had a long standing rivalry that is often violent and intense, but both clubs have a long standing mutual respect for the other. Sourced from theguardian.com

A third interpretation is a more simple view, one in which the image can be interpreted to represent the innocence of youth and the love of the game that is football, a view that is particularly pleasing as it blocks away all the negative arguments that continue to dog the sport, such as corruption in FIFA, violence and hooliganism, and racism.

This rather simple photo can be interpreted in a number of different ways, and there are many more that I would have missed, due to my own context as an Everton fan and lover of football and its history. Be sure to tell me what interpretation you had in the comments.

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2 comments

  1. ccgarvin · April 20, 2015

    Really enjoyed this as a read, I think you really nailed it with all three of your interpretations. I’ll admit that I am definitely not a sport fan in general, but as the daughter of a man whose only church is cricket, I can say that I understand the passion and dedication to a game meant to represent sportsmanship and physical ability.

    Looking at that photo first, I thought it was just a representation of kids trying to prove that rivalry shouldn’t be aggressive, but knowing the back story of this gives it such a more powerful message. Two teams competing against each other is one thing, but if it comes to physical violence, then that is so not okay.

    You included a bunch of really interesting images that backed up your overall point really well. They were also powerful and had a serious situation as their message. Really well written and a very good point about how people can always come back from a horrible incident.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bethanyr2013 · April 21, 2015

    I thoroughly enjoy the way this post has been structured right down to the first introductory paragraph. I feel contextualised, I understand what we’re about to dive into and how this blog is about to explore how the media has framed my expectations and even my memories. At first I had no idea what the significance behind this image was. Two kids holding hands on a soccer field..great! That’s sweet, there’s unity, childish innocence. I even love the height difference, the girl who has matured faster than the shorter boy beside her. But both appearing so timid, faces hidden enhancing the sense of shyness. But I had no idea how much more was behind this image. When diving into the historical context as you have done, this image all of a sudden carried so much more weight. Not only does it depict two rival teams coming together, but the numbers representative of those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster in ’89.
    The fact that this image is in honour of such a tragic event in history, seems to simply highlight that childlike timidity, and to me expresses a fragility. A fragility of life, a fragility within our communities, but a solidaritaty we always have the option to cling to. Unity which is always available if we want to overcome. A bond that is stronger than differences, and in our weakness makes us strong.

    Liked by 1 person

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