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IconicWarImages:HowWarDefinesPhotographyandHowPhotographyDefinesWar Imagesofwararehighlycirculatedandinfluentialbecauseofthevolatilenatureofwaritself. Becausewarissuchadisturbing,mysteriousandinherentlyhumanconcept,theworldgraspsfor specificimagesthatdefineandcompartmentalizethisconfusingandemotionallyrawtime.TheVietnam War,specifically,wasoneofthefirsttelevisedwars,andsinceitwasnotonUSsoil,Americansclung tofilmandphotographsofcombattoseekmeaningandunderstanding.Becausethewaritselfwasfar away,theseimagesweretheonlythingAmericanshadtorationalizethedeathandviolence.Certain imagesemergedfromthistimeperiodthatnotonlydefinetheVietnamWar,butalsoembodytheactof warforgenerationstocome.ImagessuchasFleeingNapalmBombAttackbyNickUthasthe compositionalelementsthatmakeagoodphotograph,whilehavingtheshockvaluethatmakesagood warphotograph.Thecombinationofbeautyandhorroriswhatmakesthisphotographsoinfamous. NickUtsphotographisoneofthoseimagesthatyoucantlookawayfromsomethingso disturbingthatyouguiltilystareatit,waitingforyourmindtorationalizeit,untilyourealizethatitis unabletobereconciledwith.

HarimanandLucaitesschapterTraumaandPublicMemoryexpertly analyzestheroleoficonicimagesincreatingapublicmemoryandtheaffecttheseimageshaveonthe consciousnessofasociety.TheysaythatAmericansinabilitytolayVietnamtorestmaybeduein parttothefactthatthecollectivememoryofthatwarwasdefinedbyimagesthatarethemselves traumatic.(Hariman/Lucaites172)Traumaiscausedbyanirrevocablepsychologicaldamagethatis noteasilyaddressedwith.Intermsofwar,therearetwokindsoftrauma,traumathatisdirectlyinflicted upontheciviliansinthewarzones,andtraumathatistheemotionaldistresscausedinreactiontothis, theguiltofthecountrymanymilesawaythatistheaggressorinthewar.FleeingNapalmBomb

AttackorAccidentalNapalmasitisreferredtointhearticletakesbothofthesetraumasinto account.Theimageisofagroupofchildrenrunningtowardsthecamera.Itisdeducedfromcontext thatanapalmbombhasbeendroppedonthevillageandthesechildrenarefleeingtheblast.Onegirl,at thecenteroftheshotisnakedandscreaminginpain.Herburnsarenotvisibletotheviewer,butthe painiswrittenacrossherface.Thereareagroupofsoldiersfollowingthechildren,ambiguousto whethertheyarewalkingcalmlyorrunningaswell.ThisimageisiconicfortheVietnamWar,andinturn hasbecomeadaptedtofitthestrugglesofotherwarsaswellastheplightsofsubjugatedgroups.The forceduniversalityofthisimageiswhyiconicimageshavebecomesoproblematic.Theuseofthis imagehasbeenstretchedtoencompasseventsthathavenorelationtoit,andoftenmisinterpretedin general. Manymisconceptionsaboutthisimageleadtothedeteriorationofitsinitialimpact.Many viewersmisidentifythesoldiersasAmerican.Neitherthesoldiersnorthebombweredroppedby Americantroops.ThesoldiersareSouthVietnamtroops.Inaddition,thewoundedgirlreceived medicaltreatmentminutesafterthisphotographswastaken,andshelivedalonglifeafter.Theseare importantdetails,however,toavieweritshouldntmatter.Theblatanttruthitthatthis,isaphotograph thatshouldnthavebeentaken,ofaneventthatshouldnthavehappened(Hariman/Lucaites).Whether ornotthosesoldierswereAmerican,theyverywellcouldhavebeen.Thisscenewasplayedoutacross VietnammultipletimeswithAmericansoldiers,howevernotinthepresenceofaphotographer. ThisimageservesasapointofruptureintheAmericanconsciousness.Imageslikethisone, showingthetraumaofwar,oftendirectlycontradictthenaturalAmericanbravadothatisassociated withwar.Thephotographs,accordingtoHariman/Lucaites,demandsreciprocityinaway,itforces

youtolookatit,forcesyoutounderstandit,andforcesyoutoacceptit.Thereisnothingrightabout thisphotograph.Itisobviousuponfirstglancethatthereispainineveryinchofit.Thisimageruptures theAmericanWarHeroSaga,astorythattellsofAmericasbraveryinthefaceofwar.NoAmerican canlookatthispictureandjustifywar.ThephotographdevaluesAmericasestablishednarrativesof justifiedmilitaryaction,moralconstraint,andnationalpurpose.(Hariman/Lucaites176)allowingthe photographtoseepitswayintothepsycheoftheAmericancitizen,slowlycausingthetraumaofdoubt, guiltandresentmentofwar.Thefactthattraumaticimagesareadoptedaswarimagesispartlydueto thefactthatwarisinherentlytraumatic,butpartlyduetothecalculatedmoralresponsethatmustbe constructedwhenrespondingtowar.Asocietyatwarhastohaveanoverallpublicresponsetothewar atlarge. AsanimagelikeAccidentalNapalmisadoptedbymanypoliticalcauses,artistsandviewers itbeginstoloseitsintendedpurpose.Theaffectofthisoverconsumptionofanimageultimatelyleadsto aflatteningofitsnarrative,andadecreaseinitseffectivenessatstirringsocialchange.NickUtsimage ofthechildrenfleeingthenapalmattackhasbeengeneralizedtodescribeanyantiwareffort,andinturn lostsignificantmeaningtoitsoriginalcontext. Themosticonicimagesintheworldarebothcaptivatingandupsetting.Animagethatgains popularitymustdisturbtheviewer,eitherwithbeautyorwithcarnage.Oftentimes,photographs possessboth.FleeingNapalmBombAttack(orAccidentalNapalm)causesaruptureintheviewer, andthesocietyitwasadoptedby.ThisrupturecreatesaguiltwithinAmericans,andcreatesaparadox forasocietysosureofitsfreedomanddemocracy.Americasawthisphotographanddeeplysearched formeaning.Ajustificationcouldnottakeplace,becauseoftheblatantviolationofhumandecency

depictedinthisphotograph.Warnolongerenough.Afterthisimage,warwillforeverbequestioned.