Marco Bohr - Photography, Politics, and Digital Networks in a 'Post-Truth' Era

Reading an article in which someone does a deep dive into a phenomena that you haven’t quite been able to put your finger on, but has been bothering you for a while, is a wonderfully legitimizing experience. I suppose there’s something to be said for confirmation bias somewhere in there. The day of President Trump’s inauguration, I headed to work in a fabrication shop in New Orleans for a film I was on. I expected some grim faces, storm clouds over our heads, because this was indeed a dark day. What I didn’t expect, but maybe should have, was all of my colleagues sitting around a table at 8 AM, listening to the news for Inauguration day, passing around a bottle of whiskey and smoking cigarettes. Sus, one of the carpenters who also happened to be a lesbian, openly wept. I can’t fault her for it. This was a very bad turn of events, and whiskey can be really good in the morning every once in a while. But since then, there’s been a consistent tone of “the grass was so much greener, perfectly green even!” about the past that I find troubling, and Marco Bohr hits the nail on the head.

 Part of a balanced breakfast when in the presence of power tools and a dystopian future.

Part of a balanced breakfast when in the presence of power tools and a dystopian future.

The quality here, again, is in the specifics. The methods of lying to each other on a grand scale are not new, but we do have some effective new tools that we can use to that end. Just as the printing press allowed for more expansive campaigns of propagandizing, photography and social media have expedited the processes of our tomfuckery to an exponential degree. Reading this brought to mind the concept of a Black Legend, originally brought to my attention in learning about ‘The Spanish Black Legend’ (La leyenda negra) back in high school. Here is a requisite Wikipedia quote from a prominent historian on the subject:

An image of Spain circulated through late sixteenth-century Europe, borne by means of political and religious propaganda that blackened the characters of Spaniards and their ruler to such an extent that Spain became the symbol of all forces of repression, brutality, religious and political intolerance, and intellectual and artistic backwardness for the next four centuries. Spaniards ... have termed this process and the image that resulted from it as ‘The Black Legend,’ la leyenda Negra. [...]

Spaniards who came to the New World seeking opportunities beyond the prospects of their European environment are contemptuously called cruel and greedy “goldseekers,” or other opprobrious epithets virtually synonymous with Devils; but Englishmen who sought New World opportunities are more respectfully called “colonists,” or “homebuilders,” or “seekers after liberty.” (...) When Spaniards expelled or punished religious dissidents that was called “bigotry,” “intolerance,” “fanaticism” ... When Englishmen, Dutchmen, or Frenchmen did the same thing, it is known as “unifying the nation,”...
— Historian Philip Wayne Powell, "Tree of Hate"
 I think you could technically use this as a metaphor for what the Spanish did to Native American populations, but specificity is pretty important.

I think you could technically use this as a metaphor for what the Spanish did to Native American populations, but specificity is pretty important.

It’s important that people of prominence like Marco Bohr expose the vulnerabilities in our respective crafts and our social systems at large, especially while adding the context that tempers our partisan anger to some degree. This kind of dark creativity has been and always will be used to manipulate people on every scale, and we need to be informed to allow our faculties to address the assault. We also need to be aware of the ways in which the people we support are manipulating us. Obama’s press circle never sent out pictures of his staff selling weapons to Saudi Arabia that were ultimately used on the children of Yemen. We got pictures of he and his family playing in the surf of Florida after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf, saying that we were “open for business” again while thousands still struggled with contaminants from the disaster. If we, as a global culture, put more emphasis on critical thinking and skepticism in every facet of our governance and business, we’d be much better off as a species.