James Danziger on the photographs of the  APR 15 2008

James Danziger on the photographs of the Florida teens accused of beating a classmate and filming it for YouTube.

The pictures of the accused are startling in the banality of the faces. (While the spelling of many of the names -- April, Britney, Brittini, Cara, Kayla, Mercades, Stephen, Zachary bring to mind a revived Mouseketeers.) A number of the girls look surprisingly similar, but minus the prison garb, they could just as easily be reacting to a berating for poor schoolwork. The boys, who were posted as lookouts while the girls carried out the beating, look a little more ready for jail.

The pictures are fascinating in the narrow range of emotion they convey, from self-pity to sullenness, but to my mind all stop before genuine contriteness. (I'm reading this in, of course, but I have a hunch I'm right.) Yet there's an all-American look to these kids that can only remind us how narrow the line is between good and evil.

The original photos are here.

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