Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
July 17, 2005

Heart of Stone

Justicesunday2

If it’s last show didn’t create enough controversy, the insidious but generically named "Family Research Council" is now preparing another mediathon.  From the BAG’s perspective, it is interesting to tease apart the organization’s visual propaganda.  Although this poster doesn’t trouble me as much as the last (Spoil the Rod and Spare the Child – link) , it still plays off highly loaded symbols with extreme bias.

In this latest poster, it appears the Supreme Court is physically bearing down on the Constitution.  (The suggestion carries more impact with the presence of the Ten Commandments, and the universal story they were being crushed by people who thought they knew better.) 

The poster does a simple but clever job of prioritizing the relative importance of these institutions.  The Ten Commandments are placed in the foreground, superseding the Constitution.  Given the perspective, however, the Supreme Court seems to be "falling away" from the Constitution and the tablets, and that the Court is also "looking down" on the Constitution, as if the Court fancied itself as the temple on Mount Olympus with the justices holding themselves up as (false) gods.  In any case, the Court is represented as the institution (in comparison to the other two)  where authority and justice is most slanted. 

Finally, the way the tablets are colored and shaped is also clever.  The fact they are black-and-white and elongated seems to reinforce their ultimate jurisdiction.  (The stylish elongation, along with the oversized lettering, seems to also give them both a more contemporary and friendlier look.)  The move I like best, however, involves the way the tablets (taken together) seem to form a heart shape, which makes an interesting juxtaposition in comparison to the also authoritative, but more Vader-ish impression of the court house.

(image: Family Research Council)

  • landsurveyorK

    vita bella
    yes, a RoveNation is bad.
    but not all is bad.
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/2005/tour05/?id=tour0515/S-ARMSTRONGCASARTELLI60
    Casaretelli being the son of deceased former team rider, who died in a race with LA in 1995 on tour.
    not all is bad.

  • jefrog

    Justice Sunday II: The Revenge
    “God save the United States and this Honorable Court!”
    So the Court can be saved from those (“activist judges,” etc.) who seek to render it less “honorable.” Thus, the image of the Court is overbearing, but only to emphasize prestige and legitimacy. (After all, if events like these are successful, the Right will control the Court, and don’t want that institution’s august stature destroyed if they’re the ones who can use/control it.) The Court on this poster is also situated between Heaven (what those clouds against a pure blue sky call to mind) and the Ten Commandments, God’s laws on Earth. The point as I take it, then, is that the Court is to be a medium for propagating these laws from their divine origins to the country “under God” below. Because that’s what “We the People” (notice how prominently this text appears) want.
    I also like how “Article I” is aligned with the Ten Commandments’ “I” (with the latter given prominence, as the BAGman mentioned), and the play of “Justice” in the name of the event. Whose Justice/justice, indeed.

  • landsurveyorK

    why go to 26 amendments, when 10 was enough?
    regressives vs progressive, it seems to be.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    Even Moses broke the ten commandments…. ;^)

  • Jeremy

    The process by which the Ten Commandments themselves became iconified in this ad is very interesting and telling:
    I. The commandments are numbered, reducing cognitive load for a culture obsessed with bulleted lists.
    II. The commandments are numbered with Roman numerals, making the numbered list instantly recognizable to a modern audience while still maintaining an aura of antiquity.
    III. The content of the commandments are left out in their entirety, emphasizing belief in the “institution” of the Ten Commandments over understanding the often messy and contextually-interpretable messages of the Ten Commandments.
    It’s time to point “For-Or-Against” organizations such as the Family Research Council to the immense, ancient, and evolving body of literature which exists to interpret the laws inherent in the religious texts according to time and place.

  • bg

    IV, V, and IX are covered by the text. I’m not so good on the commandments, but V is “Thou shalt not kill” and IX is “Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife” I think. Maybe IV is “false gods before ye”? Interesting slip of the text perhaps.
    And of course while complaining about “activist judges” there is no mention of the activist judges THEY prefer.

  • aliann

    I find it interesting that the ten commandments are misrepresented. The teachings of the Judeo-Christion based religions describe the tablets brought down the mountain by Moses as divided into 3 comandments on the first tablet (Gods commandments on God) and 7 commandments on the second tablet (Gods commandments for human interaction). (Funny note-the sects can’t even agree on the wording of these commandments, the Roman Catholics removed a commandment and divided another to maintain 10 because the removed commandment conflicted with their party line) I wonder if the misrepresentation is designed to appeal the the less educated populations of these sect or instead the ad is designed by non-religious marketing people following tried and true marketing tools. More and more the religious groups (even the more mainstream ones) are employing sales tactics to sell God and their personal religious bias. I also notice that these groups stick to the general similarities between the faiths eschewing those points of contention between the different sects.

  • aliann

    Catholic
    I. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image.
    II. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    III. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
    IV. Honor your father and mother.
    V. You shall not kill.
    VI. Thou shalt not kill.
    VII. You shall not steal
    VIII. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    IX. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
    X. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
    Protestant
    I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
    II. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
    III. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
    IV. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
    V. Honor thy father and thy mother.
    VI. You shall not commit adultery.
    VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
    VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
    IX Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
    X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods

  • aliann

    I. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image.
    II. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    III. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
    IV. Honor your father and mother.
    V. You shall not kill.
    VI. You shall not commit adultery.
    VII. You shall not steal
    VIII. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    IX. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
    X. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
    Protestant
    Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
    II. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
    III. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
    IV. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
    V. Honor thy father and thy mother.
    VI. Thou shalt not kill.
    VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
    VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
    IX Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
    X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods
    My apologies for the typo. (see above) I think it is important to understand that these groups are asking non-religious and non-christian people to accept precepts that even they can’t agree on.
    Nuff from me sorry to take up so much space.

  • neco

    And while we’re at it, don’t forget the Jewish decalogue:
    I. I am the Lord your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery
    II. You shall have no other gods but me
    III. You shall not take the name of your Lord in vain
    IV. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy
    V. Honor your father and mother
    VI. You shall not murder
    VII. You shall not commit adultery
    VIII. You shall not steal
    IX. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
    X. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his bull, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.
    Also, there is the question of the translation “kill” vs. “murder” and “no other gods but me” vs “no other gods before me.” Really, with all these differences it’s no surprise they went with the numbers so that way anyone can fill in their own version.

  • Gary

    Futura Condensed? How American isn’t that! Weird!!

Refresh Archives

Random Notes