Image Is Everything by Duke Heberlein : LUSENET : Zonkers : One Thread

Image Is Everything

by Duke Heberlein

"Image is everything," tennis star Andre Agassi states in an old television commercial. In many ways, this is true. For some things this is a natural occurrence, such as the manner in which a top athlete performs his or her craft with such precision and grace, they make it appear to be effortless. Or the way a concert pianist will make the music they perform come alive for the audience. While both of these examples take a great deal of effort, countless hours of practice and mental and physical preparation, they are pure in that the image they produce is in line with their aims as individuals. For others it is not an appearance that is either natural nor in line with the aims of the persons staging the act. In fact, many times it is the aim to deceive.

Take government, for example. If government is such a fantastic and necessary thing, why does it, and its lapdogs the media, have to work so hard to give it such a glossy and glorious image? Think about it. This year two television series have been created to join the nauseating West Wing in singing hosannas to the almighty state. The Agency, a homage to the choirboys of the CIA, and First Monday, which revolves around the nine judges sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court. After seeing the trailer promoting the latter, I could not help but laugh at the audacity of the production. In it, James Garner, playing the chief justice, gathers the rest for a hand-holding, rah-rah huddle like a football team getting ready for a playoff game, exhorting them to "go make history." I'm sorry, did you say make history? Boy, I thought their job was to make sure that the other two branches of government don't overstep the bounds of the limited powers granted to them by the Constitution! This underscores why, with a few exceptions, the television I watch is sports, like my fellow Root Striker Karen DeCoster. I simply refuse (for obvious reasons) to watch any show based on a government agency. I will make an exception, however, for The Agency when (oops, I meant if) they air the episode where the spy cat gets ran over by a taxi.

The primping of the government's image is not confined to television, however. It continues in the latest (February 2002) edition of Vanity Fair. Here Annie Liebovitz's text partners with her photography in the cover story "War and Destiny: Historic Portraits of the White House in Wartime." This magazine has the dubious distinction of continuing this series for every U.S. conflict since WW I. Bravo! At least some of those wars were actually declared by a congressional vote. Oh, there I go again, naively believing they should follow the Constitution. My apologies.

To the unquestioning flag waver or a neocon, I am sure this issue is a dream come true. However, to a skeptic of the governmental image this presentation is not saleable. Liebovitz writes, "it was the first time in history that cameras caught an American president's face at the moment he was told his country was under attack. He appears to be struggling to keep his composure." Really? Take a look at this account of the president's reaction to the moment he was informed of the jetliners crashing in to the World Trade Center. Without any more evidence I am not stating one side is more credible than the other, but . . . there is more than one side to every story. Don't take anything concerning government at face value. There is always an agenda.

Liebovitz continues in her homage with photos of vice president Dick Cheney striking a pose at his desk, then segues into a full-face shot of secretary of state Colin Powell. After that, Annie gave me the first full-throated guffaw of her article, when I read the words next to the picture of Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge: "Tom Ridge has no margin for error. If he does his job well, no one will notice. If he slips up, there will be hell to pay. At six feet three, with a prominent Buzz Lightyear jaw, he certainly has the right appearance for a Director of Homeland Security, the West Wing post with the Reich-like name."

It is ironic and sad that even those who bend down to shine the jackboot of Leviathan recognize the similarity of the name of Ridge's office to a post that could very easily have existed in Nazi Germany. I do not believe I am the only person who has an issue with Liebovitz's dismissive use of the term, as if she was offering up a funny pun at a cocktail gathering. But her primary thesis of this passage is what really caught my eye. Who in government lost their job resulting in the failure of it to "provide for the common defense" on September 11? No one, to the best of my knowledge. (If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me.) The only thing Ridge has to worry about is not embarrassing the Bush administration to such a degree that W has to remove him and insert someone else. The only "hell to pay" he has to worry about is keeping his gig at the taxpayer's expense. My brother manages security at a major metropolitan art museum. Do you think if all of a sudden one night their collection of 19th century Impressionist art came up missing, he would be there much longer? He would have to move really fast to keep the door from hitting him in the ass as they escorted him out of it.

The reality is the government failed us all on that day, and they have a great deal of nerve to spin it to convince us of the need to take more from us, in the form of taxes and precious liberty. Never lose sight of the fact that the reality of government is that it is the least efficient and most costly manner of performing any action, and the truth is they never produce what they propose to do. Yet in spite of this, it continues to feed at the public trough, its appetite never sustained. Turn off the television and don't read tripe that serves as propaganda to convince the populace that: a) We need more government to solve this problem that government either created in the first place or was negligent in preventing, b) The individuals in government are "public servants" with your best interest in mind, or c) We are the modern day heroes who are going to deliver the country out of this mess . . . this time. These people are at best bumbling fools, and at worst power-mad individuals who want to force you to live your lives in the manner they deem fit.

January 17, 2002

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2002

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