Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
January 21, 2011

Deployed At the Gun Show

This is one of my favorite shots (pics?) from the Las Vegas “Shot Show,” which drew scads of media this week in the aftermath of the Giffords shooting.

On one level, it’s an easy photo, a set-up: your businessman-type, perhaps weekend warrior, caught side-by-side with the full-sized, real-life soldier (life size, or larger!) sporting a similar piece of smokin’ hardware.  Still, the juxtaposition comes highly-charged in the way the silver-framed war scene serves as fuel for the match of the inner-boy’s fantasy of being a soldier and making war.

So, whilst the businessman fixes his gaze up and away from the poster, we’re all well familiar with how a photograph-inside-a-photograph like this also plays like a thought bubble or a split-screen or a dream window suggesting a fantasy inside a man’s mind. Knowing that a show like this is a fantasy space already, you can’t look at this image of the real man, and the guy behind him (really just two fingers and a gun) and the guy behind him, and the guy with the gut in the aisle behind him, without seeing the picture as one epic, on-the-move, alter-ego.

(photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images. caption: Alan Patterson of Tennessee tries out a rifle scope next to a military poster at the Leupold Tactical Optics booth at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 33rd annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center January 18, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona on January 8 that killed six people and injured 13 people, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), has sparked debate about gun laws in the media and Congress.)

  • http://homelessonthehighdesert.wordpress.com Ten Bears

    Look at that fat ass, fat belly, bald head and pink skin. No doubt has flat feet, teeth are falling out, doesn’t see or hear well; has bad gas, lacks an education and subscribes to adolescent fairy tales to keep from pissing the bed at night (or justify sex with children).

    Fucking white dawgs are a dying breed. And they know it. Hence the rat chewing its tail lashing out in death-throes extremisms.

    • Matt

      The way you respond to an image is as much about your heart as it is about what your eyes see.

      It saddens me that your comment starts and ends with such bitter, racist stupidity. What is equally sad is the likelihood that the subject of the photograph might respond to you with similar vitriolic ignorance if given the opportunity.

      One can only hope for the day when people like you and people like him start looking for the humanity in others rather than using fear, hate, and aggression to guide you.

    • psychohistorian

      A bit over the top with your comment I think.

      I do agree with your observation that there is a lot of morbid obesity on display except for the poster of the generally appropriate user of said weapons. Is there a connection? If so, what does it mean?

      I look at this picture and observe what a good example it is of how the warrior archetype is glorified in America to the point of manifest hypocrisy, similar to that of religion.

      History says the Enlightenment period was 500+ years ago and I am not sure we have really gotten beyond the pre-enlightenment mindset in our social systems yet.

    • lukslahkuhprofessional2me

      …except for the squint; the road from ‘Hooch-&-Cooch’ to the ‘Mudhut-&-Anthill’…is the same road, and short.

    • jmac

      Ted Bears is fighting with words; the other side’s fighting with guns.

      Equal? Olbermann vs. Beck. Not equal.

    • jonst

      Jmac…..I don’t understand why you are making excuses for the ignorant and prejudice moron ten bears comment hints that he or she may be.

      What does it have to do with Olberman or Beck?

    • jmac

      “ignorant and prejudice moron”

      How are your words different? I can understand the frustration coming from Ten Bears. I’ve been transplanted to Texas from California. I’m surrounded by a mind set that is as bad as Arizona. It’s frustrating. We seem to take four steps back for every step forward.

  • Colin Nicholls

    My first thought was, “Oh, they’ve encased him in carbonite. He should be quite well protected. If he survived the freezing process, that is.”

  • Aurora

    The way I read it is that mr. biz guy is checking out the poster and placing himself in that world. Fantasy land. But then, given his apparent age, maybe he was in Desert Storm is checking out what’ new in the weaponry these days.

    I am always so interested in the inner process of the translation of my instant read, to words; and often as I write, a second or deeper impression appears. This is a fabulous site.

    Thank you for it.

  • momly

    I am struck by the colors both in the pictures and skin color. The soldier may actually be Caucasian, but the tones suggest “other” and which one is on the front lines?

  • http://motherrr.blogspot.com cmac

    It just makes me sad. On the one hand you have a soldier, his face mostly obscured because soldiers are faceless, aren’t they? – ants swarming up the hill towards whatever death has been chosen for them. Still, I see youth in those smooth cheeks and apprehension in the position of the mouth. He’d rather live. Beside him you have an aging man playing at soldiering, dreaming of a glory that never existed, and never will.

  • dc

    The “businessman’s” suit, which we certainly read here visually as the uniform of some kind of private-sector entrepreneurial type, puts me in mind of a recent NY Times article (here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/world/23clarridge.html?scp=1&sq=c.i.a.&st=cse) on ex-C.I.A. official Duane Clarridge, who runs some kind of for-profit clandestine operation that is in some sense in competition with the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    I’m not sure why the one made me think of the other, although the image accompanying the NY Times article portrays Clarridge wearing a business suit underneath a camoflage jacket. To the extent that Mr. Suit-wearing Dude in this image is in a fantasy-space relating to the camo-bedecked soldier in the photograph, he seems to stand in for an increasingly ambiguous relationship between the U.S. military and the private sphere.

  • BamaGuy1024

    Like little boys who never grew up, playing with guns. These men need to have a phallic symbol, a symbol of power, because they essentially feel powerless.

  • Marsupialas

    Take that you terrorist prick! I got you commie bastard! Pow-pow-pow. Ain’t fantasy great!

  • SeaDrive

    It’s a trade show. General public not allowed. Mr. Businessman is in the gun business, directly or indirectly. What you see in the picture tells more about you than about him.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes