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If you haven’t caught Hulu’s streaming sensation, The Handmaid’s Tale, then you’re missing out on a pretty grim dystopian vision of what society could be.
The premise of the show is that, basically, a theocratic group takes over the United States and forces women into a three-part caste system which revolves around sexual slavery.
These women are marked out for their social function through their wardrobe which includes the now-iconic red cloaks and oversized white hats that you’ve probably seen somewhere (political protests, etc) even if you’ve never seen the show.
Like we said, it’s pretty grim stuff. As such, while it is a pop culture phenomenon, it isn’t one of those that doesn’t present anything appealing about the “big bad” in its world – namely, the theocratic government and corresponding caste system of sexual enslavement.
So, as you can imagine, when a wedding couple decided to feature some handmaidens (as they are called in the show) flanking the newly married couple, you’re already asking for it in a way. But when you take those pictures along “the wall” – a location in the show that is used for ritualistic state killings of dissidents including the aforementioned oppressed women as well as homosexual men and others that don’t fit the state’s theocratic vision of society – you’ve pretty much sealed your fate in the Internet world.
That’s what Canadian photographer Shawn Van Daele of Van Daele & Russell Photography discovered this week when his pictures of couple Kendra and Torsten at the filming location for “the wall” in Cambridge Mill. He and the couple took the pictures at the filming location for the popular Hulu show then added in the handmaidens later via Photoshop.
And, unless you think this was some kind of unilateral action by the photographer, it wasn’t. Shawn explains that he and the couple are both fans of the show and thus know what this photo means.
“The couple as well as ourselves are HUGE fans of the TV show (and obviously, first, the book). Anyone who would put out an image like this without understanding what it implies has bigger problems than upset people on social media…I knew when creating the image that it would possibly upset people, but that’s sort of the point…to wake people up,” he told PetaPixel.
“The groom wanted photos on the ‘hanging wall,’ which is where we were taking their wedding photos; I joked about adding in some handmaids (since it seemed the natural thing to do since we were there…I’m certain any ‘creative’ or photographer would have the exact same thoughts)…We didn’t expect the photo to go viral, but we are SOOO HAPPY IT HAS because hopefully it will wake people up to how they too contribute to the oppression and hatred that they’re rightfully worked up over.”
As for the controversy generated by the photo, Shawn says that was kind of the point. Nonetheless, the consequences have been more than anticipated, at least for the couple featured in the photos.
As for the couple featured in the pictures?
“K&T are rightfully overwhelmed and distraught right now, despite previously loving the photo, since it’s from one of their favorite shows…Having the world try and ruin their wedding day and paint them out to be horrible people—there are people of every race, color, and sexual orientation in their wedding party—is a little disheartening.”
He then goes on to call the reaction a witch hunt and surmises that he and the couple are the witches in that situation.
Some might say that, if you cater to the fire, don’t be shocked if you get burnt.
You can view the pictures by clicking here.
What do you think? Typical case of Internet overreaction or tasteless photoshoot subject matter choice? Let us know in the comments below.
Also, don’t forget to check out our other photography news articles on Light Stalking by clicking here.