No matter what someone tells you, war is war. It is an activity taking part in a distant land.
Though we know we are in a war, how much can we possibly know war? Peter Hamill dubs the Iraqi/Afghan war the “War Without Blood” in his article of the same name because the media fails to provide us the true, gruesome images of the war in the far-off land of the Middle East. The only photos the media will send out are ones of wrecked cars, trucks, tanks, buildings, objects in general. If there are people after a bombing or attack, the photo is taken from a distance where the victims are blurred. Why?
Most might think it is the Pentagon’s work. In reality, it is the editors of the magazines, journals, newspapers “self-censoring.” As Hamill puts it: “the editors [are] clearly afraid of the reaction of the readers.” They’re afraid the readers may be offended, disgusted or “heaven forbid – might stop buying the paper.”
It could also be seen from a political perspective. The legislative party may support the war. News sources are biased and will tell its audience statistics; reasons on how it’s our “honorable duty” to fight; or a quick, skewed, more light-hearted version of the situation. Minimal detail for maximum support.
The current wars in the Middle East are said to be similar to the Vietnam War in which both wars are bigger than the conflict itself. The Iraqi/Afghan War is part of the idea of the War on Terror. The Vietnam War was part of the idea of the Cold War. Civilians are dying or have died cold-heartedly because Democracy (America/Western World) are/were coming in and destroying everything to take out Al-Qaeda now and Communists in the past.
“War in Hipstamatic” (the link is provided below) documents photos on the Afghan war through an iPhone app called Hipstamatic. These photos are more towards the lens of the censored, sanitized media: wrecked cars, soldiers standing around, groups of people with hopeful eyes. Could it also be that we as a society are de-sensitized to the violence around us? We listen to the sixty second report and then tune in to reality television or look up funny cat videos because we don’t care. No, not because we do not care. It’s because all this -war, violence, conflict- have become integrated into our lives, our culture, our mindset. My generation were only kids when 9/11 and the Iraqi/Afghan war began and not even born when the Middle Eastern conflicts began to surface. All through our lives all we have heard is war, war, death and war to the point we do not pay attention anymore.
In “A Vietnam Photo Essay”, I was disturbed by the June 1972 photo of Pan Thi Kim Phuc fleeing from her village after the napalm bombings. To know a child had gone through temperatures of 1500-2000 degree Fahrenheit and survived with severe burn just cringes my teeth. What had she done wrong? Was she guilty by association because she was behind enemy lines?
The Vietnam War is considered the first televised war. Everything shown through the media is raw, disturbing, authentic images and video on the events in Southeast Asia. There were no filters, no photoshop, nothing. Society wasn’t desensitized to that. They rose up and voiced their opinions on the conflict that was not even about them.
Despite its horrific results of death and destruction, wars impact cultures and societies. It can make or ruin a country’s economy and status. These things were inspired throughout the war:
- Space fashion from the Space Race.
- The status of our environment was becoming a concern with the help of environmentalists.
- The Third World theme of freedom is given political awareness from artists like Erro.
In the Cold War, people were scared for their lives at the thought of the big red button being pushed. This fear shakes the norms, giving the people a new perspective on life. With this new perspective, new things emerge such as microcars or new materials to make furniture. Though many at the moment will cling onto their beliefs even tighter, in the long run, it helps and guides their descendants from making the same mistake twice.