19 April 2008

Tasteless Imagery of Iwo Jima and Elsewhere

Tasteless or Typical?

There's been significant buzz in the blogosphere about the tastelessness of equating the famous picture from Iwo Jima with confronting global warming on Time's cover page. See Malkin, Fuzzilicious, Blackfive, and snarky Wonkette that highlight justifiably pissed WWII vets. Does global warming exist? I don't know. I asked the smartest guy I went to college with and he said it's bullshit. Of course he also works for Exxon, so there may be a conflict of interest there. Regardless of climate change, the environment is important, since there's only one of them until we can figure out how to build casinos and strip joints on Mars. But slapping a Sierra Club sticker on your SUV and watching Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" does not require the same fortitude as taking on a determined and well dug-in foe where thousands of your fellow Marines lost their lives.

The whole stance against the Time cover is moot unfortunately, since our consumerist culture, that's heavy on advertising and distorting the public mind, has already ruined tons of iconic images. The flag gets paraded around like a three-dollar whore on every used car commercial in America, velvet Jesuses are sold at the Tijuana border, and vendors sell 9/11 hats at Ground Zero. Collectively, I think we have been jaded. So whether the bravery of Iwo Jima gets used to pitch a political agenda or whether it gets used to sell home insurance is of no consequence. Advertisers would use imagery from Iraq if the war wasn't so unpopular and polarizing. Here's one below I found for hot pants.

(Note: I'm pretty sure I remember this airing, that shit pissed me off!)


Anonymous said...

I think what Time is trying to convey with that cover is that whipping global warming will take the type of shared sacrifice that America used to be known for.

Nevertheless, I can understand why people are upset at the comparison between the kind of sacrifice where you are killed by enemies (like most of the men in the Iwo Jima photo were) and the kind where you have to vacation in Florida rather than Cancun because jet fuel is more expensive. Not really an apt comparison, is it?

But I think I understand why Time made the mistake: some conservatives (of the Grover Norquist wing of the Republican Party) treat higher taxes (like carbon taxes) as the moral equivalent of war. So it is now a really big deal in our country to suggest we should raise any type of taxes for any reason; hence the attempt at inspiring imagry to prepare ourselves for more expensive bananas. (Can you tell I've been influenced by your criticisms of our consumerist culture?)

I haven't checked into the correlation, but I hope the people who are upset about the Iwo Jima imagery aren't the same ones who take income taxes more seriously than they take sending our soldiers into harm's way. You can't have it both ways: either having soldiers killed by enemies is a bigger deal than minor economic pain, or it isn't. (Hint: it is.)


Anonymous said...

Tacky, tacky, tacky.

Tin Ma'am said...

tasteless. just tastesless.

Anonymous said...

ditto - tacky,tacky,tacky....perhaps there is something more appropriate to express shared sacrifice, like the pics of everyone collecting tires, metal scraps etc for re-use/recycling or gas rationing coupons.


madtom said...

Mindless Rightwing nutjobs. The kind that think that resources are limitless and that god will provide as long as they keep the faith.

Once we deal with AQ, I think it'll be their turn.

I liked the picture, I still like it.

Kyle said...

That Time cover is completely tasteless. Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought by the Marine Corps, and to use imagery from it to promote a political agenda is sickening.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Oh My Gosh! Ad executives use iconic imagery for their own purposes!

But, it's not exactly tasteless. Tasteless would have been putting fake words into the mouths of the Marines + Corpsman, saying things like "If I didn't die on Iwo Jima I would be fighting Global Warming Today!"

LT Nixon said...


Interesting comments on what is and what isn't tasteless. I appreciate the smorgasboard of insightful comments! Especially, since I have no other form of communicating with the outside world, as I told my friends and family I was going on a 1-year trip to Timbuktu and would be out of reach.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your family has enough experience with your sarcasm to not believe that you are in Timbuktu :)

TacOps Security said...

I am glad that the community has gotten together to show that this type of comparison is distasteful.