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What Can We All Learn From Axelle Despiegelaere And The Hyper-Sensitive State Of Media?

What Can We All Learn From Axelle Despiegelaere And The Hyper-Sensitive State Of Media?

The World Cup has brought us many emotional high's and low's as some of us sat at the edge of our seats cheering fanatically for our favourite teams. Amidst this rollercoatser of emotion and excitement another story was developing seemingly out of the blue, and just as quickly as it started, it came to a screeching halt.Axelle Despiegelaere

Axelle Despiegelaere, a 17 year old Belgian soccer fan, was photographed cheering for her country in a match against Russia. Overnight Axelle Despiegelaere was thrust into super stardom as the power of social media and photography took effect. Little could she, or anyone, predict that these images would go viral. So viral in fact that they caught the attention of L'Oreal who instantly offered the young woman a modelling contract. They went so far as to create this promotional video:

What L'Oreal did not realize at the time was that Axelle Despiegelaere was an avid hunter and shortly after being given her modelling contract she posted the following on her Facebook Page:

Axelle Despiegelaere

With the recent hot topic in the news being Kendall Jones, the Texas cheerleader who posted pictures of herself posing with animals she hunted and killed in South Africa, it was quite apparent that this move by Axelle Despiegelaere was going to draw some criticism. Sure enough the comments began flooding in:

axelle despiegelaere

axelle despiegelaere

axelle despiegelaere

axelle despiegelaere

L'Oreal being a company that is trying to uphold its contributions and beliefs towards animal welfare have decided to immediatley terminate the modelling contract which they offered Axelle Despiegelaere. A L'Oreal spokesperson said: "L’Oréal Professionnel Belgium collaborated with her on an ad hoc basis to produce a video for social media use in Belgium. The contract has now been completed." Whether this was indeed a one off offer for Axelle Despiegelaere, or if this is a back-peddaling attempt by L'Oreal is up for debate, however it is clear that the company wants to distance itself from the controversy surrounded the social media frenzy that has been created around the latest internet sensation.

Fellow Fstoppers writer, Clay Cook, recently wrote a fantastic article covering the "Do's and Don'ts of Social Media", and this story may be the perfect case study for how our hyper-sensitive state of media can seemingly rocket an individual to world-wide fame and at the same time can be a vehicle for complete career suicide. As photographers we are very closely tied to social media these days and we must be ever vigilant not just of the images we put out into the world, but the image which we portray to the world.

[via Business Insider]

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John White's picture

Some of these companies need to start standing up for this stuff and not letting the internet pitchforks hurt them with every little word. Half of these people don't do the research into the hunting of these animals anyways and the other half are still convinced that a triceratop dinosaur was killed last week on set of Jurassic World... sigh.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

That was ridiculous. I lost faith in intelligence and common sense when I was reading those comments on Facebook.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

It seems like companies can't win. If you research people you hire, you are overstepping. Yet if you don't and someone posts something controversial, somehow you are now advocating for whatever they are doing. It's absurd. Regardless, we seem to have evolved into a culture that acts first and asks questions later and somehow has to manuver out of sticky situations. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that, lol.

Jayson Carey's picture

since when is hunting a taboo? until very recently, that's what the "grocery store run" looked like.

Ryan MacKenzie's picture

How can someone say I hope someone shoots you? Its an animal people.....get over it. Although I only agree with killing animals if you are going to eat them or you are protecting livestock etc.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

The way some of these hunts are varied. Many times they are hunting animals that are a problem to other animals or people. Sometimes they are already sick or injuried. Sometimes it is population control and hardly a "hunt" since the animals are so used to people they come right up to the trucks. When possible, the meat will feed an entire village (assuming the animal isn't sick and the meat can be eaten).

The ones I find repugnant are the ones that keep the animals in a confined area and send people to "hunt" them.

Thomas F's picture

I'm amazed how over-sensitive people become when they get access to the internet...

James Nedresky's picture

Hmm... A 16-17 year old girl traveling around the world to hunt for sport and cheer in the World Cup? The first thing this article spoke to me of is elitism. Daddy, oh daddy...

Woody Huband's picture

Did your father not share with you to the best of his ability? Some fathers have more money to share than others, and that, in itself, should not be construed as something evil. As far as L'Oreal goes, it's their business, and they can do what they want. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I wouldn't have offered a contract to an unknown without a vetting process. Maybe they learned something from this embarrassment to everyone involved.

Steven Lear's picture

While it's true that many times these hunts are performed for conservation purposes (although how one thinks they're going to do a better job than Nature is up for debate), the problem lies in the glorification of it. If indeed she was hunting for conservation purposes in order to feed a village, as she claims, than it should've been approached as a solemn duty that you perform, pay your respects to the animal and move on. But sitting there disrespecting the beast by posing and smiling about the fact that you just killed a living thing who posed no threat to you (and couldn't defend itself in any equitable measure to a rifle) is what gets many people, myself included, infuriated.

If you like to hunt, great, but don't revel in your provision of Death all over social media. That's not being oversensitive; that's just having the common decency and respect for life. The only thing she needs to be shooting animals with is a 400mm f/4.

Chuck Douglas's picture

Perhaps there should be a long and ever evolving list of things that shouldn't be photographed because someone might be offended by the image. /sarc

Adrian J Nyaoi's picture

Hunting for conservation? its like saying war is good of humankind

Pieter Nel's picture

Let’s take overpopulation/population control as an example. Would you rather have the game ranger just put the animal down, or would you allow somebody to PAY you to shoot the animal? Money doesn’t grow on trees here in Africa and its expensive business. Not every country can afford to maintain its reserves just with tourism and needs additional forms of income.

No money = No reserve = No animals

It’s not ideal but it’s a necessary to keep them afloat.

Activists are usually first in line to complain and last in line to offer a working viable alternative. So let’s bump you up in line, what do you suggest they do if tourism/donations isn’t enough?

Adrian J Nyaoi's picture

Hi Pieter, over population of a single sp in a managed reserve spell bad management; which to many read as good. Excess individual can now be hunted, an income generating activity. If that is the primary aim of the reserve ie producing and breeding target species for the propose of hunting, then I have no problem.( the same way as to why i have no problem with some Asian eating dog meat). To call it conservation is stretching it.

Ps: since you post a link, try do a Google scholar search on my name

Pieter Nel's picture

If controlled hunting serves a purpose to help preserve, guard and protect the far majority of animals in that place isn’t that the very definition of conservation. It might not be the textbook correct way of doing it but the end result are the same. Animals are being protected in their natural habitat.

Adrian J Nyaoi's picture

Hi there Pieter; many wildlife conservationist think that way too; but if conservation is done properly, there shouldn't be a problem of over population. There are many who regard an explosion of population as a success and the excess population being auction off to the rich to hunt. Hunting should never be used as a tool to regulate population, if conservation was done correctly.

Clay Cook's picture

Thanks for the shout out Peter!

Dan Cavallari's picture

I'm gonna be that the first paragraph, no apostrophes are necessary for highs and lows. Sorry, grammar police here.

T.J. Fitz-Gerald's picture

I really don't care about her hunting and with all the crazy stunts that PETA pulls I'm far more likely to boycott PETA than a person who posts a few hunting pictures, but what product does PETA make that I can boycott??? Oh yeah, NONE! But it's the end of the second sentence that basically has ruined her career on an international basis ... "ready to hunt americans today haha". L'Oreal's sales in North America account for over 1/4 of their sales and you've just stated you wanted to hunt their customers! Seriously? You might as well as make a religious slur against Muslims and call them "male chauvinist pigs" .... just before going to the Burj al-Arab in Dubai.

paul magro's picture

Slightly off topic, but still on topic. Tens of thousands of "meat animals" are killed in factories everyday and neatly sold in handy plastic wrapped packages. One girl with a picture of one animal and the full moon idiots come out on FB.