July 4, 2010

BAG Archive Edition: War Time in America

Archive Note: This post appeared on November 18, 2007 featuring the cover image from “Homeland,” contributor Nina Berman’s new book. (Full disclosure: Michael Shaw wrote the afterward.)  The image raises the question of whether Americans really did then and do now consider themselves and the country “at war.”  The mix of recreation and weaponry make it an evocative post for the Fourth of July. Original post/comment thread here.

Berman-Stealth (click for larger view)

My first association….

Right after returning from Spain in August, I remember turning on the TV to watch a bit of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.  Having been away from the States for nearly a year, I remember being jarred by the super-sized and jingoistic display of the session’s opening festivities.  An American flag was stretched out that literally spanned the footprint of the stadium court.  Liza Minelli was called upon to ring (wring?) out a painfully long and overwrought rendition of America the Beautiful.  Then, a squadron of fighter jets blew violently over the top of the stadium in perfect coordination with the end of the song.

In her continuing look at militarization and the security of the homeland, contributer Nina Berman offers us a set of images tied to Atlantic City’s “Thunder Over The Boardwalk” air show this past August.  As she writes:

There are many of these shows all around the country done by all branches of the military.  They are huge productions costing millions of dollars and usually have a very robust, aggressive energy.  They now also have a big recruitment component.

I am interested in your reflections on the photo, as well as either or both of its companions (1, 2).  Because Nina was more interested in the areas of the beach which were off from the main viewing ground, there are elements here that lend a particular twist to the themes of power and defense.  In general, however, I feel the shot conveys a unique mood and aura of post-9/11 America, America under the “terror war,” or what the Administration constantly refers to as “America at war.”

(image: ©Nina Berman.  New Jersey.  August 2007.  Used by permission)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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