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March 7, 2013

Feeling Railroaded by Guns, Survivalists, Domestic Terror?

With gun control facing an uphill battle in Congress and the NYT running a feature today about more coziness between the gun lobby and Congress, I was thinking about the meaning of this survivalist photo from the newswire. (It was taken last December but published recently in a “picture of the week” gallery at NBC). The way we’re inclined to identify with the kid (and all the mil-green and cammo clothing), it feels like the photo is a pushback to all the fear and hysteria generated by the (largely anonymous = headless) gun lobby and its protection of the Second Amendment. I was thinking it might be a pushback, too (boys with their toys), to how much the militias and domestic terrorists have become the objects of media obsession.

And then, what about the parental dimension? And, childhood? And old fashioned innocence and imagination? And is the photo, by way of the kid, actually a deeper dive on “survivalism”?

On the composition, specifically, I like how the roll mat, facing us on top of the green backpack, looks like the barrel of a machine gun or rocket launcher. Things do get more ambiguous from there, though. For instance, it is pointed at the kid. (Fall in line, or else?) But then, is that the front of the kid’s tent? (In which case, shoot me now?). I’m wondering about the additional contribution of Thomas the Tank Engine. As opposed to “The Little Engine that Could,” say, isn’t that character more hung up on his own self-importance?

(photo: Brian Blanco / Reuters caption: A young boy sulks because his sister got to carry the rifle that he wanted to carry as members of the North Florida Survival Group gather for a field training exercise in Old Town, Fla., Dec. 8, 2012. The group trains children and adults to handle weapons and survive in the wild. The group passionately supports the right of U.S. citizens to bear arms, and its website states that it aims to teach “patriots to survive in order to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemy threats.”.)

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