To express my topic of the opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S., I decided to use an iconic photo of Cory Monteith, an actor from the TV series “Glee” who passed away from “mixed drug toxicity, involving intravenous heroin use combined with the ingestion of alcohol.” From my research on Monteith, he had struggled with drug abuse for many years behind the scenes, yet none of his fans knew of this, so when he died, it was a big shock for fans of the show and for anyone familiar with him. I decided to use his image because he is an example of someone with huge success who suffered from opioid addiction, and I believe this is powerful because it shows that addiction to opiates isn’t just something that occurs in low socioeconomic classes or in rural areas; it can happen to anyone, even a famous and successful actor.
My photo manipulation started from this iconic photo, Monteith’s headshot from the show:I decided to take out the text from the original photo to write something relevant to Monteith’s cause of death. I wanted to keep the concept of using his hand as the letter ‘L’, so I changed the text to say “Life ruined.” In addition, I put a needle in the same hand, which is aimed at showing how his life was ruined because of heroin use.
I believe that the new or altered meaning I brought to this iconic photo is that heroin use or opiate addiction in general is something that happens in a broad variety of populations, and it can often be happening under wraps, so it should be taken more seriously in the government’s efforts at helping stop the epidemic.