Which Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words?

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

On my bus rides to and from work the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about whether or not a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Or rather, if the implication behind that old saying – that all pictures are worth a thousand words, that there is a richness to the visual medium that cannot be captured with text – is true.

After much deliberation and note-taking, the conclusion I reached was a resounding “No!”. Some pictures are worth a thousand words, some many more – but most pictures are worth less, especially in our modern world where visual culture has saturated our lives. Which doesn’t mean that a picture which requires fewer words to describe is inferior to a picture which requires more words. I’d say the opposite is just as true. Rather, I’d argue that writing about visual culture involves creative and critical decisions that makes the thousand-word benchmark an interesting prism by which to judge our own relationship with these images.

But I need to go to bed soon and dream about Sudo Maasa and think some more about all this for a couple more bus rides before I’m ready to write about this in full. So before I lob yet another wordy theory-grenade at readers of this blog, let’s play a game: looking at these six images – and you can click on them for larger versions with better detail – I want you to tell me whether or not each of these pictures are worth a thousand words to you. You can make it a yes or no, or you can give a guesstimate of how many words each image is worth. So to start off from the top…

Exhibit A: Akina from Akina Style.

Exhibit B: Berryz Koubo from a magazine spread – I think it’s girlpop but someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Exhibit C: Tsuji and Kago from the Morning Musume Hamilton Island photobook.

Exhibit D: Zone from a photoshoot featured on the cover of Oricon magazine.

Exhibit E: SweetS from the cover of their first mini-album.

Exhibit F: Tanaka Reina from her recent Shoujo R photobook.

So my own take on these images…

  • A: one or two hundred words, tops
  • B: a thousand words if I’m feeling Freudian, five hundred if I just feel smutty
  • C: definitely a thousand words
  • D: maybe five hundred words, though this is my favorite Zone portrait
  • E: several thousand words, maybe even a slim volume
  • F: one word – “Scrumptious!”… or perhaps one-and-a-half, if you want to consider “Scrum-pedoli-umptious!” a real word.

But that’s just me. Now it’s your turn.


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10 Responses to “Which Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words?”
  1. CJ Marsicano says:

    My take on F…. November 11, 2006 isn’t very far away 😉

  2. Dennis Bovell says:

    A: Probably not.
    B: Maybe not a thousand, but a decent amount.
    C: Only if you write fiction (dirty, dirty fiction).
    D: “Zone will kick your ass” – Five words.
    E: Would be easy to detail/theory as to why one girl is apart from the rest of the group I imagine.
    F: I’d write ten thousand words for Reina, at least.

  3. Steve Harrison says:

    A. Huh!

    B, The other 6 Berryz- 1 word….. Momoko 999 words!

    C. 1000 words because Kago looks so skinny here.

    D. 0 words, but the guitars are cute!

    E. 1,000,000 words..”Love, let me count the ways…”

    F. 7 words…”If only this pictures was of Momoko”!

  4. niji says:


    A. 1 word – bleh!
    B. A few thousand for Foehr alone. Add a thousand and/or some for each individual member. Multiply that by some factor for the entire collective. Assuming that I don’t have to write those words, then it totals to 20-50 thousand.
    C. A few hundred words maybe. I’m not a fan.
    D. More than a few thousand, definitely.
    E. More words than Tsujikago but way less than Zone.
    F. I don’t need any words for this one. She knows what I think. 🙂


  5. k2c says:

    This is quite related to pictures as you know who is getting a solo book soon. I think it’s great when I saw the thread about it at mm-bbs, the first thing I thought of was, “I can’t wait for Ray’s entry about this.”

  6. k2c says:

    That was not the message I meant to get across! Heh, just think about when she DOES get one and think of the entry you’d make, etc. Hey, we all have our bad days.

  7. DS says:

    That Tanaka Reina pic is awesome!
    I thought you’d like this series of seifuku pics of Sari Kiri to drool over 😉

  8. DS:

    Wow! You just made this the best Mother’s Day – ever!

  9. Beth says:

    My take on things:

    A: No
    B: Definetely at least 1000
    C: Maybe 100 or so
    D: Maybe MAYBE 100
    E: Not at all. This picture never made an impact on me.
    F: Probably at least 500.

    But that’s just me. 😀

  10. Anna.W says:

    a) 500 words XP
    b) couple hundred?
    c) A couple million XD
    d) 3 words
    e) 2 words
    f) Ew none. I’m straight

    I can tell you guys are… guys XP Oggling at Reina XPP