Ambulance Chasing in Social MediaTuesday, December 27, 2016
|Lauren Stewart in her Princess Leia impersonation|
Ambulance chasing, sometimes known as barratry, is a professional slur which refers to a lawyer soliciting for clients at a disaster site. The term "ambulance chasing" comes from the stereotype of lawyers that follow ambulances to the emergency room to find clients.
Arthur Fellig AKA Weegee
One of the most cherished romantic myths is that of the artist, neglected during his or her lifetime, who earns recognition posthumously. On first inspection you’d think the photographer Arthur Fellig, better known by his nom de lentille Weegee, should have filled that bill.
A fedora-topped, broad-faced, middle-school dropout rarely seen without a Cuban stogey clenched in his mouth, he earned his keep largely by relentlessly and resourcefully chronicling the seamy side of night-time New York with a flash-equipped 4x5 Speed Graphic camera. The results would then be sold to the dozen or so greasy tabloids hawked daily in the city in the mid-1930s and 1940s. The epithet “ambulance chaser” could have been coined for him – except for the fact that, equipped with a powerful police radio in his 1938 Chevy, Weegee usually was on the scene before the ambulances and the cops. If you knew Walker Evans or Edward Steichen back in the day, Arthur Fellig was no Walker Evans or Edward Steichen.
Globe & Mail
It is impossible to not notice that some folks in social media have a specially equipped computer with an RSS Feed with an Ambulance Chaser APP. It is really important to be the first on social media to point out that a celebrity has died. In this new century of fake news some people die who remain alive a lot longer.
If you have known the dead celebrity you might include in your posting (always to make sure to find a photograph of the celebrity when young and thin to contrast with one that is the exact opposite) the personal touch of having been on the elevator with the celebrity, etc. But this is not usually the case. It is far easier to share with your “friends” a Globe & Mail, Manchester Guardian, CNN or NY Times obituary or announcement and simply write R.I.P.
Today December 27, 2017 social media is full of this ambulance chasing. I will divert from here to explain why in many cases I do not know who these dead people are. I have no idea who George Michael was.
Back in the early 70s when I was teaching at a high school in Mexico City my students asked me if I had ever listened to Alice Cooper. My answer, “Who is she?” made the whole class explode in laughter. Earlier in the 60s a friend asked me, “What do you think of Carmina Burana?” You can imagine my answer!
In one of my last teaching jobs at VanArts in downtown Vancouver a rather rude English student by the last name of Strand asked me, “Mr. Hayward do you have any magazine photographs for magazines that still exist?” I was much too offended to reply verbally the first thing that came to my head which was, “Most of the famous photographs of people I have photographed in those magazines that no longer exist are all dead.”
But then there is the fact that somehow my type of portraiture (with lights and a big camera) somehow end up being requested for the funeral services of Canadian politicians and other celebrities that I have photographed.
Today I found out that author Richars Adams has died. Predictably our social media ambulance chaser mentioned the obvious in that he had written Watership Down.
In my case I have no intimate contact to report. The man was never in an elevator with me. I never photographed him but