Events

Friday, August 8, 2008

Taste Test: How We (Mis)Use our War Memorials

The Dissident Frogman takes one of his characteristic shots at a Greek PR company for using a crudely Photoshopped image of what is evidently an Allied World War II cemetery in an anti-smoking campaign.  That is:  Why choose that particular type of cemetery over any other?  Not everything is fair game for market exploitation.  Those austere grass expanses with row upon row of simple but eloquent crosses make great raw visual material, but there is a difference between dying because you chose to "smoke 'em if ya got 'em" (as they used to say in World War II movies) and dying in the fight against Nazism.  Merci, Frogman.

Admittedly, he seems inadvertently to succumb to the tendency that he decries when he speaks of "Health Nazis."  As readers of this blog will know, I think that we too often and casually reach for the Nazi comparison.

Ironically, however, the Frogman is not as far off the mark as one might imagine.   Nazi scientists were in fact the first to demonstrate the link between smoking and lung cancer. Even while waging wars of conquest and racial extermination abroad, the regime therefore sought to curb smoking at home--in the name of racial hygiene to preserve the German Volk.

In the course of blasting the tawdry advertisement, the Gallic sharpshooter also takes aim at another topic that has made headlines, the evidently increasing use (why?!) of war memorials as backdrops for private pornographic film and photography.  

As the Telegraph reports
While common acts of desecration have in the past included vandalism and graffiti, indecent photographs and videos are increasingly being shot around the magnificent structures built during the post-war years to remember the fallen.
The latest incident saw a French couple given a four-month suspended prison sentence for making a pornographic video at the Vimy Ridge memorial near Arras.
If people don't have a life, they should at least try to understand and respect the meaning of someone else's.

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