3. What they don’t say (but do reveal).7: Kardashian: revealing yet unrevealing.The bizarre side of the mirror is Kim Kardashian’snow-famous picture of her ass and side-boob .The pose is utterly banal; she’s like millions of othersadmiring themselves in mirrors, trying to show somepart of their body to best advantage. Kardashian goesa step further. As she gets everything to show justright while admiring her own image in the phone, thethird meaning that pops out is not her body. It’s howweirdly stage-managed the scene is. Her body isblatantly visible while her décor is carefully blockedoff by Japanese screens. Her ass-crack isintentionally outlined, but she doesn’t want us to seeher sofa. Kim has even authored four rules for theperfect selfie: “Hold your phone high [as you shoot];know your angle; know your lighting; and noduckface!”5/9
Geraldo: self-regarding.Equally idiotic winds of third meaning blow through otherrecent celebrity selfies. Seventy-year-old Geraldo Rivera’sselfie shows him gazing at his own stomach muscles in abathroom mirror , naked but for a low-slung towel. Unlikethird meanings that tell us something new, selfies like thisconfirm what we already know. (Here, that Geraldo is a self-involved publicity-loving hound dog.) It’s no different fromthose celebrity porn films that are self-released accidentally-on-purpose, either to remake images or out of simplesociopathology. Then there’s the subcategory of what I call the Selfie Sublime: anextraordinary moment, photographed to incorporate the shooter’s own astonishment. We seeit in astronaut Aki Hoshide’s selfie hovering in space , his silver helmet showing none of hisfeatures, the Sun behind him, the Earth reflected in his visor. In its counterpart, the SelfieTerrible Sublime, we see not beauty but agony. On December 11, Ferdinand Puentesphotographed himself in the beautiful blue ocean off the shore of Molokai, in Hawaii, secondsafter his small passenger plane crashed and began to sink . The look on his face isspectral, terrified, ecstatic, eerie, vertiginous. This is someone photographing himself lost andimperiled, recording and sending off what he knows might be his final moments. After beingrescued, Puentes said that when they heard sirens and bells going off in the plane and thewater coming up fast, “everyone knew what was going on.” While looking at the selfie, herepeated, “It hurts.” We know this from his selfie.9: Hoshide: space selfie. Photo: Uncredited/AP2013Soon, from somewhere in the digital universe, camecomparisons to Puentes’s with selfies taken by gamer avatarsin Grand Theft Auto 5 that depict themselves withcatastrophes. Here, people have created fictional figures thatmimic what we do, and amazingly enough, the genre’searmarks are often present in their avatars’ self-shots: thetelltale raised shoulder, the close-in view, the bad cameraangle, and the stare.