Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman’s Shooting War was humorous, entertaining, but also informative and politically charged. The graphic novel seems to revolve around the issue of media manipulation. At the center, Jimmy Burns finds himself blogging politically charged journalism, field reporting, and dodging rocket-propelled grenades all at once. Initially seen as a maverick of sorts capable of penetrating the political agendas, Jimmy Burns and his camera become tools of manipulation for various ‘parties’: terrorists and the sensationalist American media. Shooting War seems to be commenting on the dangerous powers of instant media outlets. The graphic novel brings to mind Don DeLillo’s Mao II and the manipulative power of images. It is suggested that Brita’s photography might be turned into a political tool used by Bill Gray (or at least he initially intended to use his photograph) and Abu Rashid, but Brita demonstrates that the image can be used by any person or party (she ‘claims’ the child terrorist by removing of his hood and taking his picture). In Shooting War, we see a similar trend: Jimmy Burns is used by both terrorists and media outlets like CNN.
Visually, Shooting War is equally intriguing, mixing drawings and real photography. I think one of the most interesting illustrations done by Dan Goldman is the convoy ambush scene (sorry, no page numbers). We enter the point-of-view of an American soldier through his tactical mask. If you have ever played a ‘first-person shooter’ video game, the layout is very similar. Later, we see another connection between video games and warfare with the mobile robot guns controlled by ‘gamers’ of the ’10th Infantry Division, Remote Battlefield Operations’.
I thought the inclusion of Dan Rather was hilarious, and apparently, “The frequency is courage” is a reference to a 1986 mugging of Rather by a man who said to him “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” which has become somewhat of an inside joke for pop culture.
On a completely unrelated note, I was watching an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” [#2.18, Up the Long Ladder] (…Yes, I’m a dork…), and I found quite a postmodern twist in the episode: Picard and his crew come across a planet with two near-extinct societies (Bringloidi and Mariposan). The Bringloidi are a pre-modern, agricultural community, and the Mariposans are a technologically superior society who have stricken sexual reproduction from their way of life; they have survived only through generational cloning. They are nearing extinction, however, due to ‘replicative fading’, which reminded me of the essay we read from Jean Baudrillard (‘Simulacra and Simulation’) earlier this semester. The colony’s clonal replication has become reductive: each subsequent copy of a copy becoming less defined, more incomplete, and eventually fatal. The solution was to merge the pre-modern Bringloidi with the Mariposans to ‘replenish’ the DNA pool.