September 18, 2006

Fashion Of The Times


American paranoia has become so pervasive, while the capacity to step back  has grown so remote, political life now seems inspired by Alice In Wonderland.  Thank god, then, that here and there, one can still get a glimpse of the looking glass.

Through this livejournal community, we gain a look at the fashion spread in September’s Vogue Italia.  (Because the color shots are more plainly satirical, I’m going to primarily touch on those.)  One person who wrote me described these images as evoking rape fantasies and the expression of female power.  That interpretation, while going for the sexual politics, seems to overlook the main point, which is more purely the terror politics.

Here is a luscious lampoon of the America terror state — a situation that has gone so far, it can only be treated as burlesque.

If you see any duress (in the color photos), let me know.  In shot after shot, the models (in color, more animated, and more 3-D) are mostly bemused by the procedural antics of the overweight and over-trained cops, security personnel and undercover agents.  In the image above, the viewer gets to share in the model’s “alien-nation” while these TSA robots (manuals at the ready, two men doing the job of one) demonstrate the expert ability to monopolize her time.

In another shot, a model is practicing her marksmenship, suggesting —  just like the military with their rah-rah commercials, and slickly produced and freely distributed kill the rag head video games — that terrorism makes for great sport.

Even more dead pan is the shot with the ferocious dog.  Because the model could hardly be bothered with the animal, the image throws Abu Ghraib back in America’s face as terror for its own sake.

Of course, the scenes featuring the bumbling side of the “surveillance industrial complex” are easier to look at.  In those (color) images where the treatment is harsher, the imperviousness of the models suggest that rougher treatment yields what much of world now feels toward Bush’s GWOT, which is blatant disgust.  I think that’s where the black-and-white photos are going.  The fashionistas are identifying America’s perverse instinct for dominance as the political equivalent of sexual harassment.

Looking at this layout and then looking at the news, it seems the world has become lost in fable.  As a result, it seems to take a fashion magazine to throw light on that payola sinkhole otherwise known as the Homeland Security Department, and to emphasize that terrorism, in America, is all that’s in vogue.

(hat tip: DW, KB)

(images: Iselin Steiro and Hilary Rhoda/Vogue Italia.  September 2006.  Via

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