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Journal of rafael (2125)

Thursday July 06, 2006
01:12 AM

Propaganda for the people, by the people

[ #30190 ]
People are getting good at manipulation of images. Here's two recent examples, thanks to the Internet.

First, a video made out of Bush speeches, remixed into a speedy version of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Secondly, a Liberty holding a cross.

Both are effective, shocking, memorable. Both work on the same principle: putting "opposites" together -- Bush and a pacifist song, Christianism and a symbol of civil liberties. But both have the same problem. They suppress any possibility of dialogue and argumentation, because they suppress that interval between "opposites": and I put "opposites" between quotes because Bush is much more complex than an anti-pacifist, and Christianism is much more complex than an anti-liberty ideology. Actually, reducing Bush to an anti-pacifist and Christians to supporters of theocracy is so caricatural is becomes ridiculous and plain false.

So those images are also manipulations. Effective and well-done manipulations, but not so far from propaganda. With the context, you can tell that the song is anti-Bush, and that the statue is pro-Christian. But put the very same statue in some museum of modern art and it becomes anti-Christian. Quoting 1984 again, war is peace, slavery is freedom: when the opposites are joined there is not place left for thought.

And that's why in the end I don't like those images.

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  • I thought that cross-holding Liberty was real? There’s certainly nothing in the NYTimes article about it to make me think it’s a photoshop.

    • Oh, I never implied that it was a picture; it's an actual statue. I used the word "image" in a broader sense; see what Webster says:

      An imitation, representation, or similitude of any person, thing, or act, sculptured, drawn, painted, or otherwise made perceptible to the sight; a visible presentation; a copy; a likeness; an effigy; a picture; a semblance.

      (definition brought to you by Net::Dict)

  • I know a lot of Christians and not a one would support this country being a "theocracy".
    • Similarly, since when is Christianity (or "Christianism") remotely close to the "opposite" of civil liberties?

      In this country, anyway, every major step forward in civil liberties -- abolitionism, women's suffrage, civil rights in the 50s and 60s -- was at its root pushed for by Christians, and the tradition continues today, in the fight against abortion.

      I don't like the statue either, though, for a different reason: it denigrates the cross by putting it in a French statue. Just kidding. :-) Really, it doe
      • Besides the trolling, there's a point that I'm not sure I got: what does the statue means, for you? Given it's title, it's (for me) an allegory of liberty. But, liberty is an universal idea, that has probably been around since men exist, and that will probably continue to exist in all places and times... on the other hand, the cross is a symbol of a religion that is bound both in time (the Christian era) and in space (geographically), hence not universal (since the majority of the humanity doesn't care abou
        • Besides the trolling

          Are you implying *I* am trolling? Certainly, I am trolling no more than you are.

          there's a point that I'm not sure I got: what does the statue means, for you? Given it's title, it's (for me) an allegory of liberty. But, liberty is an universal idea, that has probably been around since men exist, and that will probably continue to exist in all places and times... on the other hand, the cross is a symbol of a religion that is bound both in time (the Christian era) and in space (geographic
          • Well, for the trolling, I was referring to your comments about the nationality of the sculptor, Bartholdi...

            And for the cross, I still have to disagree: even for Christians, it cannot be meant for everybody, since lots of people have died BC, jews and gentiles. I can't see how the cross can signify anything for a (for example) an average contemporary hinduist, but since I'm not Christian, it's normal our opinions differ on this...

            • Well, for the trolling, I was referring to your comments about the nationality of the sculptor, Bartholdi...

              Oh, that was an obvious joke, and I explicitly stated so. I don't consider that trolling. :-)

              And for the cross, I still have to disagree: even for Christians, it cannot be meant for everybody, since lots of people have died BC, jews and gentiles.

              I disagree. While it is true that at the most basic level, the cross refers to the death and subsequent resurrection of Christ, what the cross most symboliz