Vietnam the First Television War: Wars, Memory and Identities
The war of Vietnam has taken three decades, but its implications still haunt the Americans. The photos displayed in the media are said to haunt the collective conscience of the American people. The main form of inhuman circumstances in the Vietnam War were covered and released in the mainstream media. The photos of a nine year girl screaming and running naked with immense pain from a burn on her back and hands received the attention of the world. The image also known as the “accident napalm” is said to be the most haunting image of the war.
This research proposal is geared towards having an interpretation of the photos taken during the war and the impact that they had. The viewer response will be highly highlighted and the continued struggle in the public culture at the time preceding the War. The reading of the photographs is the main aim of the study and understanding of the public judgment on the issue. The second photo is of the execution of Viet Cong member in the brutal way. Though these photos have appeared in historical books, have gained commendable popularity has represented the war. The research proposal will focus on the similarities portrayed by the photos. The photos have a common element of triggering emotional outrage and a strong sense of powerlessness (Cottle, 2004).
The photos interpretation
The Vietnam conflict is described as one of the conflicts whereby the media coverage was allowed. In the prior American conflicts, the media were censured, but in the Vietnam War, the journalists were not officially censured. The reasoning behind the allowing of journalists to cover the events has been based on the fact that America did not consider that to be a War. It was the first time that the Americans had to watch live coverage of the war from their rooms (Der Derian, 2009). The unique thing about the Vietnam conflict was the fact that American citizens became more informed than in any other conflicts (Andersen, 2006).
The scholarly attention on the photos and their classification is mainly pegged on the role played by the photographs taken during the Vietnam War. The photos are said to have added value to the print media. The Photo journalism is said to have taken a new turn from the Vietnam War photo coverage. The war is said to have been determined by the print media rather than the confrontation of the battlefield. The attitude of the public was significantly influenced by the photos and public hostility to the war eventually developed (Altheide, 2009).
The value of photographs compared to words is tremendous. Photographs are said to last for long periods of time and they are easily recalled. Images are mainly highly instrumental in arousing people’s pre existing values and emotional reactions. The photos are said to be more appealing to visual learners than the printed word (Hammond, 2007). The photo named “Accident Napalm” has in the memories of the people who have come across it. The photo, which necessitated the American citizens to question the morality of the war, portrayed the ruthless nature of the war whereby a girl was running naked in the streets with burns allover the hands and the back (Allan, 2010).
The photos generated strong emotions, and they caught the eye of many and they were highly reproduced across a wide range of media. The photos steered democratic action on the American abuse of power and diverting from human rights and democratic principles. The wording of the photos was that they depicted inconceivable inhumanity. The photos made history by being sold more than any other war video. A negative reaction by the United States citizens on the war was noted and a widespread expression of disillusionment on the United States Government role in the War (Allen & Seaton, 1999).
The “Tet Execution” Photo
The execution was carried by Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc Loan and it was covered by the media. There was a video footing and a photograph. After shooting the prisoner, he also executed the NBC and ABC camera crews. Though the execution was aired, the photograph was highly rated than the video footage (Donald, & MacDonald, 2011). The photo shows the two men on the center of the photo and the photograph depict a different aspect of the Vietnam War. Away from the historical perception of a War whereby complex war artillery is used, the photo portrayed the war has being of one man against another. The execution is said to have shown an expression of empathy from the viewers.
The “accident napalm” photo
The “accident napalm” photo showed children fleeing while armed soldiers are herding them down. The photograph focused on a nine year old nude girl who had severe napalm burns on her back and her hands. The photo evoked strong emotions of pity and terror (Gilboa, 2002).
The two photos created an outcry for justice and the entire world questioned the moral authority of the American Army in the War. The expressions triggered by the photos formed a different perception of the War and strong agitations against the war were witnessed. The anti war messages started circulating while human rights groups took bold steps in condemning the war. This could not be achieved without the photos.
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