June 11, 2014

Duck and Cover Redux: Bulletproof Blankets for Kids

Do you remember the post we did sixteen months ago on the Bullet Blocker bullet proof backpacks, the image perversely cast in that Newtown-ish setting in Massachusetts? On the heels of the Sandy Hook shootings, domestic violence and trauma seemed to bring out the entrepreneurs.

Fast forward to today, in the shadow of the UCSB shooting, the Seattle college shooting, the Las Vegas police shooting and all the other shootings in just the past few weeks that are in your local press but failed to earn the national 15 minutes, and we have this photo that has been making the round, courtesy of the BODYGUARD Bulletproof Blanket for Kids, the latest in grade school rampage prevention products. (The people at ProTecht tout it for tornados, too.)

Of course, I’m interested in how you read the photo, both functionally in terms of how the metal shield/pad thing-y is supposed to work as well as what the marketing imagery has to say. One of my first takes — call it a spiritual FAIL, if you will — was that of America’s children looking for zen in some sad ritual on the underside of a yoga mat.

My primary association, however — and maybe yours too — was to “duck and cover.”

I have some faint memories of these drills which otherwise saw their heyday in the ’50’s. At the time, the perceived threat to our children involved nuclear attack, and the dangers of nuclear fallout. Either that, or  just “more conventional” aerial bombing.

As a direct visual parallel to the bulletproof blanket photo is this 1950 shot of a school air raid drill from the Oregon historical records.

When “the Bodyguard” is actual worn, these things also remind me of a kimono. But that photo of the children on the floor makes me think about how children of the ’50’s, when there class day wasn’t disturbed by an attack drill, might have been otherwise unconcerned at school, and even feeling relatively unburdened walking to and from. Which makes me wonder and ask, what happened to us?

(photo 1 & 4: Bodyguard by Protecht. photo 2: original source unattributed. photo: Joe Pazen. March 1955. via atomic-annhilation.blogspot.com. photo 3Oregon History Project:  Lincoln High School Air-Raid Drill, 1950)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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