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Iwo Jima, potent/co-opted imagry and American green

May 02 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

Time ran a cover with Iwo Jima imagery recently. It caught some flack.

The cover story explored the fact that the US must participate/lead the green revolution. It pointed out the massive challenge that global warming will be and compared it to wars fought in the past... and suggested that fighting (and winning) the global warming war will be a task that may well dwarf other wars America has fought.

Then, almost as if on cue, a group challenged the use of the Iwo Jima imagery and the green cause overall.

From my perspective both camps views make sense and like many metaphors... they end up getting all mucked up in comparison details.

On one hand we all seek to position our arguments and our points with the most relevant, most powerful platform possible. This is why so much of communications are recycled, repackaged and remixed. This is simply seeking to optimize a communication vehicle.

This isn't a new phenomenon... in fact I'd argue that people and organizations have been co-opting imagery and other people's intellectual property since time began.

We've even had a fine artist make his career out of this, Andy Warhol routinely pushed the boundaries of this... ever see the Brillo boxes?

Interestingly enough Surfrider Europe chose this same imagery for an ad a few months back (above). In fact they did an entire series of ads with military imagery. I think there is an argument that the original struggle, depicted in the Iwo Jima monument, is something special. It hits a nerve. It stood for an American struggle... and eventually a triumph that was a singularly American moment.

From my perspective that is the point.

The global warming challenge hits nerves.

It calls for some super-human strength.

America CAN be a leader in the global warming challenge. It CAN be an innovator with alternative energy and green technology... and in order to do so is going to take a struggle. My sense is that our leadership in these areas isn't a given. China's jump on solar is impressive, Europe's knowledge of wind energy goes back centuries, etc.

If America is going to raise it's leadership flag in this area, the struggle may well dwarf what we had to do to be successful at Iwo Jima. That doesn't diminish, in any way, Iwo Jima... it simply suggests we have a challenge that is going to take lots of people working together to raise the flag.
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