March 16, 2006

Pumped By Old Glory


Have we discussed the flag lately?

This morning, I opened the NYT to find a completely banal story atop the front page regarding Wyoming’s energy tax windfall.  What grabbed me immediately, however, was that damn flag.  I say “damn” because I couldn’t get what (or how much) it was doing there.


And, I’ve also been feeling flagged to death.  So I ask…

What does the flag have to do with the story?  (I can tell you.  Nothing.)  So, maybe it’s incidental; it was just there.  (Except, nothing is every just there for BAG purposes.)  Let’s be honest, however.  In the propaganda-rich Bush 43 and post 9/11 era, the flag is no innocent or incidental symbol.  It’s a brand, everybody.  It’s a tool to compel conformity (or suppress further inquiry).

… And, in this case, maybe it’s also a sales device.

Which leads me to wonder: Would The Times have played this story as big without the flag?  Would the paper have run an image this large without the flag?  And bottom line, did the flag help The Times with newsstand sales today?

Then, there’s the most toxic association of them all.  I’m referring to the symbiotic tie between love of country and love of fuel.  For me, I see an image like this and I can’t help thinking … all’s well that ends up our well.

(image: Kevin Baloney/New York Times.  March 16, 2006.  Cheyenne, Wy.  New York Times. p. A1.)

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Michael Shaw
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