Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Story Behind the Donald Trump Billboard

In this photo from what seems like a real-life scene out of “The Great Gatsby,” a bizarre re-imagination of Dr. TJ Eckleburg as he looks down on the valley of ashes. Image credit: Paul Needham

The photo taken by Paul Needham was first shared on Facebook on August 27, 2014. But he re-posted it online on December 17, 2016 and it went viral.

It’s a Donald Trump photo but more than that, it paints a picture of poignancy that is laced with irony. In fact, you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s faked.

But it is a real photo of a real billboard, featuring the US President-elect shamelessly promoting Trump Tower in Mumbai, India while homeless children camp in the street below.

“There is only one way to live,” the billboard reads, next to a larger-than-life photo of Trump smiling down on a scene of poverty from his gilded room. 'The Trump way'.

The said photographer Paul Needham had assured The Huffington Post “the image is neither doctored nor edited in any way”.

Needham is the co-founder of SimpaNetworks, a company that helps farmers and small shops in rural India install and use solar power systems. He said he stumbled across the scene while driving through Mumbai to meet with some investors.

“I was inspired to take the photo because of the jarring juxtaposition of the Trump billboard and the poverty and homelessness down below”, he said.

“The text on the billboard struck me as particularly naive and offensive”. “Business, done right, can create lasting social value”, said Needham.

“I saw Trump towering over the homeless, the children sleeping on cardboard on the street, and I was reminded of the ways in which our economic system can be painfully exclusive and unfair”.

Here’s a higher resolution photo of the billboard Needham sent HuffPost:

Image credit: Paul Needham

Beyond the heavy symbolism of the photo itself, the internet’s reaction to the photo – mostly in the form of dismissal – is worth a closer look.

“The Reddit community actively engaged with this photo, and the opinion was nearly unanimous that the image had been photoshopped and was clearly a fake”, recalled Needham.

“Anyone reading the said chatter would likely defer to their high-technical knowledge, assume some deeper wisdom of these matters. But they were all wrong, the photo is genuine, and the geeks were merely opining, with no basis for their emphatic claims of fakery”.

Even the fact-checking website Snopes also initially deemed the photograph a fake, speculating the homeless children had been photoshopped in based on the pixelation. To its credit, Snopes has since corrected itself.

Needham said this in a final advice: “Just visit Mumbai and take pictures in the street. There is no need to Photoshop in the homeless. They are everywhere for all to see”.

On Saturday, Celtic came from behind to beat Old Firm rivals Rangers 2-1 and move 19 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Kenny Miller slid in to convert James Tavernier's cross and put the latter ahead in the twelfth minute.

Celtic responded decisively. Moussa Dembele's powerful shot from a Scott Sinclair corner flashed high into the net to bring Celtic level in the thirty-third minute and Scott Sinclair touched home Stuart Armstrong's low cross in the seventieth minute – ensured victory.

But the real thriller was the EPL match between Liverpool and Manchester City. Second-placed team versus third-placed team. And the value of three points.

The Reds did not disappoint. Only eight minutes into the game, Georginio Wijnaldum headed home Adam Lallana's cross.

Regrettably, there weren’t any more goals (yawn) after that – but Liverpool did collect the three points.

And they move four points clear of Manchester City and keep the gap between themselves and leaders Chelsea to six points.

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