Image by Robert Stiene (Well, not all of it, obviously)
Anyone who has been on Facebook in the past 24 hours has seen the images: famous works of art with the iconic image of the pepper spray-wielding UC Davis police officer who blasted the protesters in the face.
Friends have begun debating whether it's disrespectful, demeaning, or makes light of what is clearly an event that was not funny, in which people were injured, and during which the Constitution of the United States was nullified.
Maybe because I've been reading a fantastic book: 33 Revolutions Per Minute, which examines the history of the protest song, I'm seeing the meme in a different light.
It takes a while to write a song, to get it out on the airwaves, no matter how timely it is. Our new social networks have allowed us to spread protest in what has become known as a "viral" manner. For me, these images--many of them hiding a great deal of anger--are a version of the protest song.
DO not be fooled. There is outrage in these images. As Rob Stiene said: "What I see is an icon-izing of the absurd/offensive. "Which one of these is not like the other?" Hence the transportation of the image into "other" (and iconic) settings."
By defacing beautiful works of art, as the faces of those beautiful young people were defaced, people are voicing their protest. It's an important meme.
I refuse to condemn it. For me, it's a way of yelling, "Give me an F!" You know the rest.
Sing it, Country Joe.
Come on Wall Street, don't be slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade,
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.