Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Truth About Yellow Ribbons: Kitsch!

The London Review of Books of 7 July 2005 carried an article by Princeton Professor Hal Foster on the cultural persuasion of kitsch and its use in the Support Our Troops yellow ribbon craze tagging the automobile bumpers and rear windows of America.

Kitsch [meaning "cheap"] was born during the Fascist years in Europe between 1920 and 1930. Without going into Semiotics and tokens, Foster describes it as a blend of prudery and prurience [I guess the Barbie Doll and Brittany Spears would fall into this category--blonde, yet virgin, bimbos with big tits] and the parent of pop culture, which substitutes manufactured illusion for reality and fiction for feeling--with appeal to the masses.

Americans have swallowed the myth that the kitsch yellow ribbons, which Foster claims are used to blackmail us into agreement with Bush's Crusade [yes, Crusade], go back to the Civil War. But in fact the bows go back to Hollywood:, specifically John Ford's 1949 film, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon in which John Wayne goes out West to fight the Injuns as his woman remains behind. With Ford's myth imprinted upon the collective psyche, the pop song Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree [about a paroled ex-con] led millions of Americans to affix yellow bows to utility poles, fences, mailboxes and front doors during the Iran Hostage Crisis awaiting the heroes' return to the homefires. Today the ribbon decals are cheap, shallow, confused and false substitutes for flag-draped coffins meant to dupe us into forgetting war's bloody mayhem. The yellow ribbons are used to bind us sentimentally to Bush's imperial project.

The Ten Commandments are also in the curiosity shop of Bush Kitsch. The placement of the Biblical tablet on Southern courthouse lawns is, once again, is a celluloid-fostered symbol. The display dates back to a 1956 publicity stunt by Cecil B. Demille to promote his film, The Ten Commandments. Demille paid for hundreds of plaster slabs to be placed in public spaces from coast to coast. Today, deployed by Bush's base, the Religious Right, the Decalogue converges church and state.

It doesn't end there. The so-called hot-button wedge issues like flag-burning and abortion cross over to frolic in kitsch space of the evangelical mind: the foetus is the Christ-child and the flag is the Cross. Welded together, they become the American Religion--the religion, says Foster, that kills to redeem.


Anonymous Karlsfini said...

Nur, I remember the first time I saw your name -- was it at Atrios ? -- and thinking how witty it was. Glad you have your own blog.

Notice how the yellow ribbons started disappearing, and most of those around now have the red, white and blue?

Driving around with a sticker on your car isn't quite like going to Iraq, and even blockheads sensed the yellow hit a little too close to home.

6:36 AM  

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