Chapter 4: Selfie

Jan 8. 2016

According to Wikipedia a “selfie” is self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as FacebookInstagram and Twitter. They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. Most selfies are taken with a camera held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror, rather than by using a self-timer. A selfie stick may be used to widen the angle of view, such as for group selfies. 

Again, according to Wikipedia, the first person to take a selfie, although it was not called a selfie at the time, was Robert Cornelius (commit that last name to memory, it will become important later), an American pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap.

(Your Honor, if I may have a side bar for a moment, thank you. Could someone please explain to me why the spell checker on my computer does not recognize “selfie” as a word?)

It doesn’t surprise me that the selfie has become extremely popular. What else would the “me” generation do with a camera? When I was a younger person my generation was into love and communion with the Earth and getting along with each other. Things weren’t heavy they were my brother. But today’s movers and shakers are all about “me”. “What’s in it for me?” is a question often heard.

The next statement will sound cruel and hard and very not PC but I’m saying it anyhow.

It’s a face only a mother could love.” And if a certain judge in San Francisco California (commit that city name to memory, it will become important later) rules in a certain way, that mother may become set for life.

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This is a picture of Naruto. Naruto is a macaque monkey and I’m sure as far as macaque monkeys go he (or she, the name is gender neutral and I can’t tell from this shot) looks perfectly normal. So why am I posting a picture of this one?

 Because Naruto is famous. 

You see, a photographer by the name of David Slater, a British nature photographer, had his camera swiped by Naruto in the Indonesian jungle.  So far, this all sounds believable. I mean, I’ve seen the way some of those nature photogs try to get up close and personal with anything that’s not man-made. I can picture Mr. Slater hanging upside down from a banana tree to get that perfect photograph that will win him a Pulitzer prize or at least a cover shot on “Ape Illustrated.” I bet he got a little too close and Naruto just reached out his (or her) four fingers and one non-opposing thumb and grabbed the camera.

But that’s not the end of the story. Not only did Naruto grab the camera he (or she) took a picture of himself (or herself). Yes folks, that above picture is a selfie. In fact, it is the first selfie of a primate (unless you think that we are all primates, then this whole story just got a whole lot more boring). 

To me it does seem a little far fetched. The monkey had to know how to push a button on a camera, really? Since most selfies are done by using a phone camera then it makes it even a bit harder to imagine. I, a reasonably intelligent, well adjusted mature human being, have trouble taking a picture with a damn camera phone. But let’s give Naruto the benefit of the doubt for a moment. He (or she) grabs the phone, turns it toward himself (or herself) and snaps the pic. Of course, Mr. Slater realizes what a unique item he has and rushes to the copyright place and copyright’s the image. Keep in mind that Mr. Slater is a citizen of the United Kingdom so that is where the copyright is issued.

That’s still not the end of the story. Because across the pond in the good ol’ U. S. of A. there is a group of, of, of, aahhh, this is a tough one, where is my thesaurus?  A group of plebeians (I hope I don’t get sued for calling them that) called “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”, PETA for short. They feel it is highly unethical of Mr. Slater to claim the photo, which was technically taken by Narato, his and he does not have any rights to it, copyrighted or otherwise. After sixteen beers with chasers I would probably agree with that. However, PETA is not content to let it be argued in local tap rooms. They have decided that the copyright infringement should be argued in court, at least in United States’ courts. Hence, the Judge in San Francisco will hear the case. The PETA suit demands a judge not only grant the copyright to the monkey, but wants an order permitting PETA to “administer and protect Naruto’s rights in the Monkey Selfies on the condition that all proceeds from the sale, licensing, and other commercial uses of the Monkey Selfies, including Defendants’ disgorged profits, be used solely for the benefit of Naruto, his family (Naruto’s mom is now smiling more than her son)  and his community, including the preservation of their habitat…

It just gets betterer and betterer.

Now for the things you were supposed to remember.

Do you remember the last name of that original selfie guy? It was Cornelius. Don’t you think it just a tad strange that that was the name of one of the apes in the original “Planet of the Apes” movie?

And the other thing you were supposed to remember, that city in California. Yeah, San Francisco. I suppose you think it is just a coincidence that it is the same city where the latest “Planet of the Apes” movie took place. 

We should all be afraid, be very afaid.

I can’t think of a more compelling argument. The apes, monkeys, orangutans, etc. are getting closer and closer to taking over. I mean, come on, they’re taking selfies and getting paid for it.

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