Is This “Shocking” Photo Shockingly Fake?


Yesterday marked the opening of the World Cup in Brazil, a sporting event where the rest of the world misuses the word “football” for reasons which are probably rooted in anti-colonialist spite and egregious player-hating against the NFL, even though the league recently drafted a gay player and generously provides interracial locker rooms and shower facilities.

A user who calls himself “Real Gómez”—which is sort of a slap in the face to the millions of other Gómezes worldwide who likely consider themselves every bit as real as he is—posted the following image:

Translated, it means, “The two faces of Brazil.”

Brazil has a very high Gini coefficient—and no, it has nothing to do with vaginas, get your mind out of the gutter—which means that wealth tends to be concentrated among the top 10% of the population more than it is in other countries. The nation’s slums—known as favelas—are notoriously dangerous and impoverished. Since the Brazilian government is reportedly spending over $11 billion to host the World Cup, the country has been rocked with protests by those who feel the money would be better spent on the poor.

So this image, which appears to depict a soccer fan blithely tossing a used water bottle into a dumpster in which a woman is crouching, is now being used to highlight the nation’s divide between “haves” and “have-nots.”

An article on Yahoo! says that any observer can “clearly see” that the woman is “scavenging for scraps” in the dumpster, although that’s not quite clear to me. For all I can tell, she may be using a laptop. Maybe she lost her iPhone. Or she’s meditating. Hell, I wouldn’t even be shocked if it were a dude. Are women the only ones allowed to have ponytails? The whole thing stinks of misandry. That, and rotting food. The whole thing stinks of misandry, poverty-shaming, and rotting food.

Critics have noted that the woman appears to have chosen to enter the dumpster, since she does not seem to be flailing in pain or screaming for help. They also note that there just happened to be a photographer there to snap the image. Many are claiming that the photo is a fake and is only being used as a propaganda tool by the protesters.

Yahoo! also claims that as “shocking” as the image is, what is nearly as “shocking” is that anyone would dare question its authenticity.

What’s not shocking is that people on social media will use any example of apparent human suffering to publicly shed cyber-teardrops without actually doing anything.

Is the photo real or fake? No idea. Are there “two Brazils,” one that’s very rich, the other very poor? Statistics would indicate that this is very much the case. Is there a way to rectify the situation without leaning on the sort of naive socialist policies and failed sloganeering that are currently destroying the economy of Brazil’s neighbor Venezuela? Again, sorry—I’m drawing blanks.