Nov. 27, 2004

Smoking while Iraq burns

Smoking while Iraq burns Its idolisation of 'the face of Falluja' shows how numb the US is to everyone's pain but its own Naomi Klein 11/27/04 'The Guardian ' -- Iconic images inspire love and hate, and so it is with the photograph of James Blake Miller, the 20-year-old marine from Appalachia, who has been christened 'the face of Falluja' by pro-war pundits, and the 'the Marlboro man' by pretty much everyone else. Reprinted in more than a hundred newspapers, the Los Angeles Times photograph shows Miller 'after more than 12 hours of nearly non-stop, deadly combat' in Falluja, his face coated in war paint, a bloody scratch on his nose, and a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his lips. Gazing lovingly at Miller, the CBS News anchor Dan Rather informed his viewers: 'For me, this one's personal. This is a warrior with his eyes on the far horizon, scanning for danger. See it. Study it. Absorb it. Think about it. Then take a deep breath of pride. And if your eyes don't dampen, you're a better man or woman than I.' A few days later, the LA Times declared that its photo had 'moved into the realm of the iconic'. In truth, the image just feels iconic because it is so laughably derivative: it's a straight-up rip-off of the most powerful icon in American advertising (the Marlboro man), which in turn imitated the brightest star ever created by Hollywood - John Wayne - who was himself channelling America's most powerful founding myth, the cowboy on the rugged frontier. It's like a song you feel you've heard a thousand times before - because you have. " continued.......

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