Sturken, Case and Point of Visual Argument

I wonder of this article was ever taken into consideration by Birdsell. Indirectly Sturken provides substantial evidence that argument can be conveyed through visual cues. The abstract nature of the memorial itself seemed to work as a catalyst. Commenters of varying background and political charge forcefully superimposed their ideology upon the work. The struggle between male and female recognition, (or obliviousness) seemed to take a strong forefront in the memorial’s construction.

 Tome Wolfe wrote an article in the Washington post calling the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a tribute to Jane Fonda. Who the heck was Jane Fonda? I didn’t know, so I had to check it out. She is well known as being an actress and entrepreneur, but during the Vietnam war, she was boisterously an advocate of communism and anti-war. She was well known for visiting Vietnam while the invasion was happening. Photographs depict her sitting on anti aircraft gun turrets, used against American soldiers.

Tome Wolfe’s remark only makes sense if given this context. Vietnam soldier’s would have been infuriated by the workings of Jane Fonda. Tome Wolfe is making the argument that the memorial was purposefully designed to be uninspiring, and to shed a negative light on the soldiers who fought in it.

Whether his remark is candid, is a topic for another day. There is plenty of controversy to go around for today as is.

It is interesting that the memorial was done in jet black stone. This greatly contrasts the white memorials in Washington.

Excerpts from the text stat e that the memorial has been called  the “black gash of shame and sorrow” and “tombstone”.

Conflict even erupted between the artists that designed the monument. Sexist tones and sharp tongues bantered between Maya Lin and Frederick Hart.

It appears that the distinct, but nonrepresentational design of the memorial allows for a wide interpretation of it. This seems to echo the argument posed by Rudolph Arnheim.

The irony of the entire situation is the reconciliation it seems to have brought to people post construction. This in itself shows the wide interpretation of the work. The unifying aspect of it, seems to be its ability to personalize the experience.

I guess this reconciliation would be seen as a counter argument for the believer that argument can only be made through verbal means. But I believe that it only amplifies the significance of visual argument. The memorial stands as an argument for war and peace, for male and female for remembrance and reconciliation. The contextual lines of rhetoric are flooded over by a more massive movement.


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2 Responses to Sturken, Case and Point of Visual Argument

  1. Nice use of the Fonda photos to extend discussion of the Sturken piece; they help add depth to our understanding of the role of visuals in debates about the Vietnam War.

  2. dochigh says:

    This article shows that anyone can take any visual item and put a completely different view on it. Being a veteran myself, I of course would be outraged if the completely twisted rhetoric of the meaning of the wall were true. I think these people have read too many books by Dan Brown, who takes partial truths and twists them around to make an interesting conspiracy novel. I also wonder how many of these feminists have ever been in war? Because if anyone of them had been in actual battle, with people trying to kill you on a daily basis, I doubt that they would see that symbol as women’s genitals. This shows that we are conditioned to what we know, and therefore we think of only that.

    Hart gave the creator Maya Lin a hard time simply because she did not ask the same types of questions as him. She did not go and have drinks with the veterans in a bar to get to know them however, doing something like this has no validity towards what she thought and how she came up with the design of the memorial.

    I think that due to the political issues with the war, people were simply upset that there was something to remind them of it on a permanent basis and so instead of being respectful towards those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their ability to speak and live freely, they were unable to separate the difference between being political and being a human.

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