02 June 2010

[design satire] How Is The BP Deepwater Horizon Accident Like The Vietnam War? Updated/Retitled

(NB: This post was updated with new information about the now-famous Twitterer BPGlobalPR and retitled because the old post title ... well, kinda sucked. 3 June 2010 0150Z)

2427.A couple of other bp logo riffs were brought to my attention by readers, and given the state of the zeitgeist over this, I find them shareworthy.

Warning: one of these images touch issues that may offend and raw language is used. Proceed down to the end of this posting at your own risk!

Showing, once again, that graphic design communicates with a punch, reader Ira Nayman, a comedy writer up in Toronto, used this graphic to illustrate a particularly trenchant Frequently Asked Questions list about the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

Graphic by Ira Nayman, Les Pages aux Folles.

The symbolism is obvious and if it doesn't seem as "clever" as other productions you may have seen, remember context is everything: It is, as mentioned, embedded within a particularly darkly humorous and sarcastic FAQ file of questions about the Deepwater Horizon event, which can be read here at is Les Pages Aux Folles blog:
More germane to the title of this post is this following image. This other one was pointed out to me by Kevin Allman, the NOLA/PDX/NOLA again writer who's published some nifty books as these days holds down a job at the New Orleaniean alt-weekly The Gambit as editor. This following image gives you some idea of how at least some of the population of the Crescent City is feeling these days, and it's understandable as it's not exactly been the best decade for them down there. It's great "anger graphics", as it combines the BP logo with one of the most potent and famous images from another place and time where the concept of just what America is doing in its own name became a matter of sheerest debate (note, the image was cut down from a screen clip, excluding just enough of the strong verbiage on the sign to make you have to figure out what it was. If you need to see the whole thing, go to The Gambit's BlogOfNewOrleans here: http://blogofneworleans.com/blog/2010/05/30/bp-oilspill-protest-draws-hundreds-to-french-quarter/

See the entire protest and graphic at
. Via BlogOfNewOrleans.com. Illustration only: copyright remains with creator.

I thought those silhouettes looked familiar, and turns out they were: they were taken from this picture, taken by Pulitzer Prize winner Eddie Adams on 1 February 1968, otherwise known to students of military history as the Tet Offensive, in the Vietnam War, and perhaps one of its most famous images:
You think the residents of New Orleans feel strongly about this?

And I can't really ask the question I posed in the title, I'm afraid. The aptitude of the artist impresses me, but maybe it's just they felt an ugly event needed an equally ugly bit of zeitgeist to back it up.

I don't care how you feel about BP, oil, or the Vietnam War, that's chewy food for thought. Might be bitter for some, I warrant.

Blogsmooches to Ira and Kevin for the input on the logos.

One thing that ought to be touched on before I move on is that there is first-class spoofery going on on Twitter. Of course, this is news to very few, but I was one of the first 10,000 to follow the spoof account @BPGlobalPR (considering how they've become news, this is kind of ahead of the curve) who has a steady stream of wry spoofery masquerading as the public relations of a tone-deaf global energy giant endlessly fumbling what's becoming the most important environmental disaster in the USA's history.

The funny part - such as funny goes in this situation - is that the actual BP has a Twitter stream - @BP_America. BP America has almost 10,000 followers.

@BPGlobalPR, on the other hand, has over 100,000. Just like Colbert and Stewart, people see more truth in the jokes - and maybe more jokes in the truth.

I sense a seriously jaundiced population here.

And so it goes.

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1 comment:

Kevin Allman said...

Sam, the protest sign was supposed to be both iconic and shocking, the same way the first image of Queen Elizabeth with a safety pin through her nose was shocking: it was a familiar image altered to say We Are Not OK, and what do we have to do to get your attention about it?

This is a town where Mardi Gras floats are both satirical and obscene. A giant papier-mache Gov. Bobby Jindal having anal intercourse with a pelican may not be subtle, but it's a political cartoon writ large in a time when political cartoons are sad, defanged things.

This sign and caption is simultaneously historic and current, scathing and funny, and is heavily influenced by both black and gay culture. You couldn't get more New Orleans if you tried. It was instant modern art, and if it's not on T-shirts within a week, I'll be even more shocked.