After a heart wrenching game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup finals, the streets of normally peaceful Vancouver boiled over with rage. The temporary blockades to help funnel traffic were upturned, fires were started, fights broke out, people were injured. But amidst the rubble and chaos there was a snapshot of serenity, calming, and love.
On June 15th, 2011 Rich Lam of Getty Images took an iconic shot of two strangers. Little did he know that just a few short hours later, they weren’t strangers any more, not to him, or most of the world. Alex Thomas and Scott Jones quickly became household names, whether they wanted it or not.
I was starting to get really frightened because I’d never experienced anything like that before, and it’s really scary. I was upset, and I fell down, and didn’t really know exactly what was happening.” – Alex Thomas
It was a more than likely once in a lifetime shot for any photographer. Among the rioting masses to get two people still enough to take a clear photograph of anyone would have been tough. But these two were locked in something other than a battle. But also, they weren’t.
Love is messy. It can be a riot at times for sure and other times just a bleak disappointment. The dichotomy of the many feelings of love has been presented millions of times in movies, poetry, and teenage diaries. But living proof of it, other than emotional or physical scars, is scarcely found.
“They started beating us with the shields, like trying to get us to move.” -Scott Jones
What made the Vancouver Riot Kiss such an important if not iconic photograph, is that it is Cupid’s Bigfoot. It’s the thing we all chase but can’t ever put our finger on. The eye of a hurricane is still just a calm before the rest of the storm; you knew what hit you, and you know what’s to come, yet you still take that deep breath and feel relief.
Also, sex. Sex sells. Sex is, for lack of better terms, super sexy. There’s an element in the photo that screams sex, to their positioning on the ground, to her underwear showing, to the colors in the background. The calm among the madness, a little safe haven, a moment that you, the viewer, are not supposed to see.
It’s has a hint of voyeurism that gives off the familiar scent of reality TV.
Sports can be dangerous. We have seen riots from wins, fights from losses, and all sorts of embarrassing to humanity fracases. But sports can also bring about little bits of history that really have nothing to do with sports. This kiss could have happened during any riot. But it didn’t. It happened when the Bruins took the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Little bits of viral history wrapped up in sports packaging arouse even the most casual fan. It’s important for sports to gather casual fans under a different pretense. It brings them closer to the game and it reminds us all that there certainly are more important things than sports.