Archive for the 'propaganda' Category

The End


One year ago, I embarked on a mission. In order to document and call attention to the prevalence of patriotic imagery on the American landscape; I decided to photograph one new use of the flag, everyday, for one year. Now, 366 (I bet you forgot it was a leap year) flags later I am finished. The point has been made; in 2008 flag imagery is everywhere. It is common to see a person in a flag t-shirt or see the flag image decorating a mailbox or used on the packaging for cigarettes or any product you can think of.

All the uses I have photographed are blatantly against the U.S. Flag code (click here to check it out, great site)  yet it is considered acceptable and even patriotic to stick a plastic flag in your yard or don a flag shirt. However, some uses of the flag will get you arrested like hanging it upside down to protest the war in Iraq. And burning the flag is out of the question. Why does burning the flag incite people to violence while using it on a disposible garbage bag does not? Both are against the flag code.

To me the over usage feels like propaganda. It seeps in through your skin when you are not paying attention, subliminally creating a sense of nationalism.

Thanks for coming along on my journey! It has been an interesting year!


FLAG A DAY is going to be included in a show, sponsored by CREATIVE TIME that promises to be really exciting. DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA: THE NATIONAL CAMPAIGN will be at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park avenue between 66th and 67th streets) in NYC from Sept. 21 – 27.



I got this coupon in mail and have to say what sense does this make? I cannot think of a single reason to plaster an American flag, not just once but four times, on a coupon for carpet and air duct cleaning. The name of the company is Clear Choice so no connection there. Does Clear Choice really think using the flag on a coupon will make people will choose them to clean their air ducts because they are patriotic or real Americans? Does it actually work, subliminally, to steer a customer to their service? Or did they just find the image on a free graphics CD and throw it on to visually jazz up the coupon?


The Orange Bible

The other day my daughter Rose came from school, talking on and on, upset about a little orange bible someone had given her at school. Whoa, wait a minute, slow down, what do you mean someone gave you a bible at school? Well it wasn’t actually inside the school building but on the activity bus after school that someone was handing them out to students as they boarded the bus.

Anyway it wasn’t being given the bible that upset her in fact, when she first received it she was quite excited, she told me, because she had just been thinking she wanted to read it. What upset her was upon opening the bible she found an American flag starring at her. She became so disgusted seeing the flag in the bible that she didn’t want the bible anymore. If fact if I remember correctly her words where;

“Don’t you think that is weird mom? It is like pure propaganda or something putting an American flag in the bible.”



He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.
– George Orwell

I think that quote is so appropriate for what is happening in our country right now and is for a large part of what my work in general is about. The present and the past is a story told by whoever has the power to control the telling.

To understand how this is being done in broad daylight read “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand” by David Barstow published in the New York Times on April 20, 2008. The article outlines how Donald Rumsfeld, the Pentagon, and the Bush Administration manipulated the telling of facts about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the progress of the war in Iraq by using retired military personnel, many of whom were on the boards of military contractors, as puppets to spout their carefully scripted rhetoric in the name of objective journalism.

Here are some highlights:

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

By early 2002, detailed planning for a possible Iraq invasion was under way, yet an obstacle loomed. Many Americans, polls showed, were uneasy about invading a country with no clear connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Pentagon and White House officials believed the military analysts could play a crucial role in helping overcome this resistance.

The analysts, they noticed, often got more airtime than network reporters, and they were not merely explaining the capabilities of Apache helicopters. They were framing how viewers ought to interpret events.

The group was heavily represented by men involved in the business of helping companies win military contracts. Several held senior positions with contractors that gave them direct responsibility for winning new Pentagon business.

In the fall and winter leading up to the invasion, the Pentagon armed its analysts with talking points portraying Iraq as an urgent threat. The basic case became a familiar mantra: Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, was developing nuclear weapons, and might one day slip some to Al Qaeda; an invasion would be a relatively quick and inexpensive “war of liberation.”

At the Pentagon, … staff marveled at the way the analysts seamlessly incorporated material from talking points and briefings as if it was their own.

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”



Subliminal 7-11

I went into 7-11 on Colley Ave and 20th St in Norfolk today to get the Sunday New York Times and as I handed over my 5 bucks for the out of state edition I noticed a banner of moving words, functioning subliminally like product placement in films, displaying a message to all on the customer side of the register. As I stared dumbfounded the words “Welcome Home Our Heroes, Welcome Home Our Heroes!” repeated over and over.

Who wrote the message? I asked the cashier and he had no idea. Do all 7-11’s display the same message? Does the message change daily? Does it change regionally? Why would a convenience store flash subliminal messages about our troops? So I decided to do a little field research. Here are my findings so far;

7-11, Little Creek and Newport, “Fresh Brownies Daily.”
7-11, Grandby and 35, “Remember Virginia Tech.”
7-11, Hwy 17 in Chesapeake “New American Subs only 2.19.”

If you go into 7-11 in your area, or any convenience store for that matter, look at the messages being flashed into your subconscious and report back.