Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Vulgarity Of Vogue

This set me off.

Those of you who know me in "real life" know that I am a student of WWI history and have a daunting library of books that I continue to collect and slowly read. This post isn't about why I study- this post is about the crass and shallow way in which history is handled in this culture. The above picture started making the rounds today as is often the case in the ever-so-short-attention-spanned-instant-gratification-something-for-nothing Internet of today. It is an artists work- there was no such thing as color photography in the period. Someone felt the need to make it "real" by coloring it. It still isn't as vivid or jarring as the video games of today, and that is the point. Look at what we require to get our collective attention these days.

Where are we as a culture that this should be the case?

There are a series of these photos taken from Passchendaele (or the Third Battle of Yper). Goddamned miserable nasty awful slog that consumed men by the hundred thousands. It was a battle with a fools plan (maybe you can relate a little), and lasted longer than even a cynic would have expected (again- familiar?). All the Yper campaigns there considered, there could be the blood of over a million young men in that field, and that's not good enough. It's not usually taught, so no one from public schools have heard of it, and it's not grotesque enough to captivate the blood lust of today's youth. Meanwhile the Army makes video games that teach and de-sensitize killing. I'm worried for my children and disappointed in (and increasingly afraid of) my fellow countrymen.

Update- I stand corrected on the existence of color photography in the WWI era. Thanks Hammer!

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Blogger Hammer said...

Very interesting. My poor rate education didn't mention Yper.

As far as photographs go there was one French photgrapher who pioneered color photography around WW1

WWI color

9:38 PM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Thanks Hammer. It'd been explained that the pics I'm referring to were doctored, and I don't see them on that site, so I'm still operating under the premise that it's true. I don't know the original source/artist, so this may still be open to debate.

The business about needing to gore things up to get our collective attention still stands.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Lexcen said...

Not a comment relating to your theme but about war. I'm reading a series of novels by Alan Furst, who specializes in the period of 1935-1945. Absolutely riveting and fascinating.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Judith said...

Sorry Im crap at linking but I seen this in mondays paper here if youre looking for the source artist. What horrible times we live in...

12:36 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

OK, i must be missing something. As far as WW1 imagery, it seems pretty normal. But why is it making the rounds now and why are you upset?

I also am familiar (not as much as you, tho) with WW1 and the obscene loss of life and assinine strategies by generals. Over in europe they are much more aware of what went on than over in the US, where you rarely hear mention of it.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Ladies- The article that Judith sent didn't sem to expressly specify who did the artwork, unless it was in or a part of the book that was mentioned, but the reason this came up was the book commemorates the 90th anniversary of 3rd Yper/Passchendaele. Hard to believe that there are still people alive who lived through it (although I think we're now down to about a dozen, from all nations). I wish to hell I'd developed this interest at a younger age and could have gone to VFW halls and talked to some of these fellows (although, most US involvement was near the Argonne, so they wouldn't have had much exposure to the other salients). I'd love to go to Belgium and check out the old battlefields. I understand that all these years later you can still see the unnatural rolling hills formed by craters. Farmers tend to find old artifacts too, and that'd be amazing to see (old bombs and ordinance notwithstanding).

4:13 PM  

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