In "Harrison Bergeron," why is the photo of Harrison flashed on the screen in multiple directions?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two possible reasons for the photo to be shown on the screen in several different directions. First, the photo might have been oriented to more easily be seen by people with various types of vision problems; since vision problems are only corrected to the average, and perfect vision is lowered to that same average, people might have trouble seeing a picture that is simply shown one way. The different picture angles would be a concession, making sure that nobody saw the picture better than anyone else.

A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.
(Vonnegut, "Harrison Bergeron,"

The second and more plausible reason is that the people running the TV studio are no more intelligent or suited to their position than anyone else. Instead of having multiple talented people running the show, with precision timing and quality control, the people behind the scenes are winging it as best they can, and so they get things wrong. Aligning the photo incorrectly is just another symptom of the degrading society; since nobody cares about ratings or quality control, simple mistakes become the norm.

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Harrison Bergeron

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