Which is why I fucking hate the idea that pictures of American soldiers with Afghan/Iraqi/Pakistani children are “cute” and “hopeful.” No, they are not. It’s exploitative. It hides reality.
Well wtf is going on in this picture? Is that soldier aiming a gun at the kids face?
I’m really confused as to the commentary.
You’re confused because you haven’t seen foreign soldiers invade America and pose with young American children to show a “positive image” of the war they have directly and indirectly engaged in. If it happens one day, you’ll understand “what the fuck is going on in this picture.”
Breaking down a sourceless photograph through a microblogging platform isn’t exactly the most convenient way to actually understand some concepts within a photograph, and Stonzie actually brings up a pretty good question: “The fuck am I looking at?” (which is always an important question to ask yourself whenever you stumble across a generic photo of the typical “third world child meets US soldier” or any photograph that perpetuates the third world archetype)
Tumblr really likes to attack US soldiers — don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the US army nor am I fan of them occupying numerous other countries, including my own country — but they are still human beings, and they are only products of a much larger problem.
You want to incite some powerful emotions? Take a photograph of a cute “third world child” standing next to the men who socialize and train soldiers to kill. To refer to Muslim people as rag heads. Show me the men who create glorified Nike-esque commercials of “what it means to be a Marine” — the men who are able to safely stay tucked away in their homes while US soldiers and local civilians die as a result of war and confusion. Would you even be able to recognize those men if they were walking down the street?
I always ask my family members in Iraq (Most of them are now refugees in Syria) what their opinions of US soldiers are. I usually get similar responses:
“They actually aren’t bad, they always give candies to children. At first, they were very nice, but they became more hostile and bitter as the war went on. We don’t blame them very much. How can you? So many of them still look like children.”
I’ll go out on a limb and say that every photo of a third world child in rags is exploitative.
Good points, Hiba. My issue is, however, with the apologists who take these photos up and and give more preference to the soldiers over there while trying to understand why they did what they did. There are American bases in Pakistan. Soldiers take photos with children in the agencies and send them back. Those photos are uploaded on mainstream media outlets where the ‘patriotism’ and ‘valor’ of the soldiers is admired. I find that disgusting. I can’t speak for the Iraqi people but the Afghans that I know who fled from their land to Pakistan and the Pakistanis near the bases all agree on one thing: These photos are hypocritical, exploitative and disrespectful to the people of the land. That’s all.
Oh, I absolutely agree that these photographs are exploitative and disrespectful, because we know that US soldiers aren’t saviors to our poor oppressed people. That being said, I see the US soldiers as more of
pawnsa brand (ie the West’s face of spreading liberation throughout the world) than the institutions who actually destroy other nations.
Photos that portray US soldiers as saviors exist because they feed in to the shattered remains of the American dream, and they perpetuate the idea that the US is home to freedom and liberation. Iraq, for example, doesn’t need the West in order to be “saved” from “the horrors” of WMD, a non-secular government, or an oppressive regime, but I’m sure many of us know that isn’t the actual reason as to why there are US soldiers in Iraq, despite those messages being constantly ingrained in to the minds of people all over the world.
I just don’t believe that much of the manipulative imagery can be solved by criticizing individual troops. We have to criticize larger institutions for the widespread brain washing of people in the West.
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