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Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

In his book, The Hamburger, Josh Ozersky writes, “America is the great icon making nation because it requires (emphasis added) icons more than any other nation. Created whole cloth, peopled by immigrants from China and Peru, and with lithe more than a federal bureaucracy, a half-formed and contested ideology, and a common language to unite them, Americans turned to iconography again and again: first George Washington, and then the Founding Fathers, and then, consecutively, the Flag, the White House, Abe Lincoln in his hat, Robert E. Lee in his uniform, Uncle Same, the Statue of Liberty, the planting of the flag at Iwo Jima . . . the list goes on and on. And to that can be added the exemplars of the American virtue, those Great Men those lives embedded the American Way — cultural heroes like Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, and the rest. It is no accident that popular iconography, in the form of advertising, came into is modern form here. In a country as big and vague as America, recognized symbolized were, and are, at a premium.”

What do you think? Does this make sense to you?

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Posted by Marquet Baptiste

I’m going to present you a famous American show called the Simpsons. It is a cartoon series created by Matt Groening and diffused on TV from the 17th December 1989. It is known for its very satirical side of the traditional American family. In the show, every character have a yellow skin except blacks who keep their original skin color.

In a first part, I’m going to describe the show for you, and the second part will show you why the Simpsons is an American Icon and is an American typical cartoon.

1- First of all, the show is principally centered on the Simpsons family.
The father, Homer, is a fat bald-headed father, very stupid and lazy. He’s the principal character and the funniest. He drinks beer and eats all the time. He’s known to provoke problems all the time, for example George H. W. Bush comes to live next to the Simpsons’ house but Homer starts to bother him and it finishes with a fight between them.

The mother, Marge, is jobless, loves her children, is very appealing and is the contrary of her husband. She is the most reasonable character in the family.
Bart, the son, is typically the rowdy boy : he hates school, is very turbulent and makes jokes on anybody. Sometimes he seems to be smart because he can make his worst enemy’s plans fail whereas he is a famous serial killer, his name is Tahiti Bob. But on the other hand he can be as stupid as his father, in an episode he is compared with an hamster on several intelligence tests and he loses.
Lisa, the first daughter, is very intelligent, friendly, smart and disciplined. She is the perfect antithesis of her brother.

Finally, Maggie is the second daughter. She’s a baby who very rarely speaks. She always falls on the ground when she walks and always has a nipple. She is intelligent, for example she can write or play piano.

Other characters often appear in the cartoon. Ned Flanders, the catholic and perfect neighbor, Moe, The barman, Barney, the alcoholic man, Wiggum, the stupid policeman, Krusty the Clown, etc.

As I said, the Simpsons is a satirical show. Homer works in a nuclear central which is not very respectful for the environment. We can see three-eyes fishes on the river next to the central. Then, Bart and Lisa go to school. It is an easy way to criticize the educational system in United States. For example, Bart’s teacher does not care about their student’s future. Cartoons themselves are also caricatural. The famous clown Krusty, is supposed to make the children laugh so he invites his friends on the show but they get smashed or hit by something that make the children laugh. During his pause, Krusty appears to be heartless, smoke and eats a lot.

More major problems are also mocked : politics, such as George H. W. Bush. Racism, Homosexuality, sects. For example, an episode is totally based on a sect. The Simpsons family has been taken in it and the scenarists turn the story as a ridiculous situation. For us spectators, it is hilarious to see how those dangerous groups are mocked. At the end of the episode, when everybody starts to wonder if the sect is true, the guru goes away in a spacecraft but it disintegrates and we can see it is a normal man who was taking money bags with him.

Two episodes have been controverted. Each one of them laughed at two countries : Australia and Brazil. The concerned countries have even threatened to go in justice because these episodes went too far. The one on Brazil shows the country as a very poor country, with wild rats and monkeys all around the place and sad inhabitants. There are a lot of tramps in the streets whereas the government is rich and corrupted.

Then, Bart is considered as a bad model for the children. His hatred for school, his bad grades and proudness of it, his jokes and vulgarity… All of this has been criticized by the population. As The Simpsons is a cartoon for young people, they can be influenced by Bart’s personality.
But despite of it, the Simpsons won a lot of prices, almost fifty, and has been commended in several magazines as the greatest cartoon on earth.

Now, I’m going to show you in what The Simpsons are an American icon. The family represents the traditional American middle-class family : they have the same lifestyle and live in Springfield, a typical American city. It has the same geographical structure than some middle class cities in United States. Then, its name Springfield has been inspired from several real cities. Matt Groening imagined Springfield and he wanted it to look like to his city of birth, in Oregon.

At the end of many episodes, a character says : God bless America. The love for their country is very important. That is why we can often see the American flag, capitalism is acclaimed and communism is very criticized. The comparison with other countries shows that in United States, life is peaceful and not dangerous. Even other rich countries are described as measly compared to United States, such as France which is mocked for its abandonment in the World War II.

Catholic religion is very represented, the city has its own church and all the principal characters go every sunday there. Although it is caricatural, for example the reverend is boring when he speaks, religion is important and it is a duty for the characters.
Still in a caricatural way, the right to have guns is promoted in the Simpson. We often can see guns saving life. For example, an episode is entirely dedicated to Marge carrying a gun and arresting outlaws.

The physical criterion is funny. Most of the characters are fat, not sportive and eat a lot. Restaurants serve a huge quantity of fatty food, also beer. Krusty burgers replace McDonald’s and we even can watch in an episode Ronald McDonald trying to bring competition to Krusty Burgers. The show has its own brand of beer called Duff.

As I’m talking about this, The brand Duff has been used for real beer in the world. The expression “Doh” when Homer misses something has been entered in American dictionary. This shows how the cartoon became so popular.

Then, the US government sets real politics and ancient figures. Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Richard Nixon have a role in many episodes. The ancient figures especially Abraham Lincoln appear as angels or help from heaven for the characters. They are very respected by the scenarists. But for the more recent politics they always are ridiculed, especially George H. W. Bush. In an episode, his rivalry with Homer is hilarious. Bush is even more stupid than Homer. To react to this parody, George H. W. Bush, president of the United States in this period in 1992, said : America needs to be a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons.

To continue with the caricatures, McBain is the over muscled, very strong but not smart action movies actor. He represents Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. He’s described as only thinking with his strength whereas he is fearful in reality. A lot of real personalities have been imported in the Simpson. We can see Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, 50 Cent, Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson or Kim Basinger.
We can add that the Italo-American mafia has a great role in many episodes. Their accent is caricatural and they always want to kill someone or to do smuggling. The other immigrates are also funny. They have a big accent, such as Carl, an Homer’s colleague, or Apu, the indian seller.

To conclude, the Simpson is a very funny show that takes the typical American themes and problems. Its satirical way laughs at many aspects of the United States but also to the other countries. The series is so famous that things from the show have been created in real life. In my opinion, I watch the Simpsons and I love it since I’m a little boy and I understand more jokes now, that means it is also for older people.

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A recent blog entitled ‘Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson- a Selective History’ provides a well-constructed argument about the reasons behind Lincoln and Johnson signing the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Legislation respectively.

As an improvement the author may could have shown both sides of the argument by explaining why Johnson was hesitant to openly support the movement, for example Sylvia Ellis quoted Michael Beschloss “‘LBJ’s genuine and emotional passion for Civil Rights had been considerably submerged while he was Senator’ because ‘Texas was scarcely in the forefront of the battle for equal Justice’” which suggests that he would not have become Senator if he was open about his views on the Civil Rights Movement.[1]

The Author may also take into account that even though Lincoln did not believe that the blacks were equal he did believe that they had the right to enjoy the fruits of their labour. This belief caused him to have a successful legal career where he often represented African-Americans.

However while the author could improve the article a strong and well-structured argument was provided. The blog explains Johnson and Lincoln’s backgrounds successfully despite the limited word count. The author also shows how the act of signing the documents aided the Presidents political careers as the outcomes of the documents was what the majority of the population wanted at the time. The author was able to successfully show how history can be affected by public opinions and is not dependent on facts.

[1] Sylvia Ellis, Freedom’s Pragmatist Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013) p.5.

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Certain areas of the political career of Barack Obama can be compared to Abraham Lincolns. These parallels have led many scholars and commentators to commit further research into the topic and have commanded much journalistic attention, leading to images such as the one analysed in this blog.

The blog itself has many grammatical mistakes which is a strong sign of an unorganised planning and rushed work.

The prominent rationale of the blog is to identify the similarities and differences between Obama and Lincoln. The writer does well to comment on similarities; stating that they “both represented Illinois in Congress” and that both swore the presidential oath on the same bible. Mentioned in the blog are also the difficult circumstances both presidents faced when commencing their terms in office. However, a topic that could be discussed in this piece of writing is the extent to which Obama goes to align himself with the image of Lincoln, which I believe is the message the image conveys.

In the second part of the blog the writer focuses most of their attention on the notion that Lincoln was a Republican who followed ‘modern day’ conservative principles. The point is made that “Lincoln is still…the figurehead of the Republican party” even though most of his ideals oppose present Republican ideology. There is a strong argument to support the study of Republicans using Lincoln’s legacy to cement their policies.

The conclusion reached in the blog is that the image represents Lincolns ‘would-be’ approval of Obama’s presidential career, however I believe that it represents the opposite; I believe the image represents the influence that Lincoln has had on Obama.

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Lincoln and the Hero Complex

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.13.41 AMAbraham Lincoln is known as a great American hero, and this “Hero Complex” magazine refers to him as the first American superhero. The magazine describes Lincoln rising to the highest position possible in the country and rescuing the nation from one of its worst atrocities, thus saving America. Lincoln’s referral as a hero is ubiquitous in American society, and this magazine’s depiction of him as a superhero highlights America’s hero complex. In the U.S., the word “hero” is thrown around very often. It is a beloved title in America. Superhero movies dominate the box office year after year. The military, police force and even football players are branded as heroes, and anyone who speaks out against corruption or injustice among these units is harshly rebuked. America’s hero complex brainwashes people into believing these people are heroes protecting the country and could never do wrong. And there is a very distinct image of a hero, which typically looks like a strong white heterosexual man in some position of power. He often wields a weapon, used for “protecting” the country from bad guys. This “Hero Complex” magazine cover page illustrates that image vividly. Lincoln is buff and carries an ax, yet is labelled “the liberator of mankind.” His image has been transformed into the hyper-masculinized, violent, superhero-worshipping culture that dominates our society today.

The recent film American Sniper was much more successful than Selma, because the former featured a white, violent American with a foreign enemy and the latter featured black, nonviolent Americans with a domestic enemy, even though the former participated in an unnecessary war that only brought harm to America and the latter paved the way for African-American equality, liberty and justice. People even criticized Selma for not heroizing Lyndon B. Johnson, highlighting America’s need for the white heroic savoir. Lincoln is being molded into that archetype and is given muscles and weapons to accentuate his manliness and heroism. However, Lincoln was thin, soft-spoken, honest and humble, and he “saved” the nation from itself, which is contradictory to today’s American heroes, whose only enemies are foreigners and/or people with a darker skin tone. Brief research on today’s heroes shows that they are mainly narcissistic, power-crazed barbarians with delusions of grandeur, and Honest Abe should not be associated with that image.

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Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, leader during the Civil War, and one of the four faces on the side of Mount Rushmore has been used in a variety of ways in the Mass Media. All of them are based off the image of Lincoln as a traditional American Hero, one of our Greatest Presidents. Even an expose piece like the one shown above in Time Magazine still holds a certain reverence for the man. Many people, from the GOP to the Ford Motor Company (a company that prides itself on producing American cars) claims an image of Lincoln. Many of these images that are being claimed can also reflect the times of the people who claim this image.

In the 1930’s, John Ford used Lincoln as an American Hero in his film Young Mr. Lincoln, which was produced during the uncertain times of the late 1930’s, with the tail end of the Great Depression and the early signs of a coming war (for the US anyway, Europe was going to war within months of the film’s release).

The Time Magazine issue is dated back to July 4, 2005. This is still relatively early in the Post 9/11 era, so it’s not surprising in the slightest that an this image of an American Hero like Lincoln, a leader in a time of war and strife, would be evoked.

Steven Spielberg released a movie called Lincoln in 2012 that focused on the Passing of the 13th Amendment. The way the film deals with race and particularly Lincoln’s views on it were whitewashed, making him look more altruistic than he really was. This is ironically done while the film shows him not being afraid to bend the rules of the Constitution and other legal codes to get what he wants. The image of a great American  Hero still remains.

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Lincoln: Our Moral Compass

Lincoln-Memorial

It is no secret that Americans love to distrust their politicians. An article in The Atlantic stated in 2010, “Public trust of government is near its all-time low according to the Pew Research Center, which finds a perfect storm of factors — including a deep recession, high unemployment and polarized Congress — are driving distrust near an all-time high of 80%.” In a nation that supposedly stands for the best-known political system across the globe, what are we standing for if not the people we voted into office?

Insert Lincoln.

He stands as an American Icon for democracy because he embodies the moral character we expect, but do not always receive, from our politicians. I mean, come on, we call him “Honest Abe.” He sits atop a throne at the Lincoln Memorial guarding “the hearts he saved…” Whether he became a supporter of the Union for the right reasons is not traditionally part of his iconic story because his story is based on results. He is still, in the minds of Americans, the president that ended America’s most embarrassingly immoral flaw.

In a system that many Americans believe often operates to reach a one-sided end goal, Abe stands for the ideal American politician–a president who truly fought for the good of America. He is often invoked by political parties and leaders because he doesn’t necessarily represent his politics as much as he represents the positive change he brought to America.

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