♪ Never take any pictures
Just try to remember
All I remember is trying
Here’s a story I like
I think it happened to me
I don’t even know if I’m lying ♪
— “Half Life,” Too Much Joy1
With so much drama in the Avocado PT, it can get kind of hard doing the W-P-single T. But Uvular, somehow, someway, keeps coming up with discursive diversions each Saturday.
As proof, he invites Politicados, for the too-long length of this header, to shift their collective gaze away from the weeds of policy and politicking to this:
In his working life as a trade journal editor and website content writer, Uvular deploys dozens of stock photos each week. He considers the one shared here the best of all time — top 3, at the very least.
♫ Playing games with the faces,
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy.
I said, “Be careful,
His bow tie is really a camera.” ♫
— “America,” Simon and Garfunkel
The typical defines the normal. Do not excuse the tautology.
Think, instead, how this seeming inanity describes the raison d‘être of stock photos. What everyone can understand about society at a glance becomes a fixed conception of how society should stay. The stories our photographs tell differ not a wit from the stories of our lives. In fact, smarter theorists of iconography than Uvular2 will tell you that narrative precedes representation; no one can depict what they cannot describe.
The story this image of an apparently successful, beautiful,3 and ethnically ambiguous female professional existing independently of the fading-to-invisible old white man and the white woman who has even outpaced the guy should tell the story of 2018 America. Which, no offense to old white men — a group that includes but may not welcome Uvular — the time to make way arrived decades ago.
Stream the fan-made clips video for “America,” however, and you see naught but the tired tropes of Myth America. Surely beautiful, but also devoid of humanity and stripped of accomplishment or aspiration. A slideshow like that might encourage some feints toward protecting the environment, but it does nothing to, pardon the expression, make America great.
Seeing the nation as a tryptic of Nighthawks at the Dinner, Devil’s Tower and a Bewitched marathon reveals no possibility for perceiving the actual as the ideal. It leaves Americans with Brett Fucking Kavanaugh joining Neil Goddamn Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court. Worse, it maintains a world in which the promise4 Langston Hughes made in “I, Too” goes unfulfilled.
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
Uvular, obviously, did not originate any of the muddled thoughts he expatiated. Regardless, he will stand unanimous in repeating them until they become as mainstream as the existential angst dredged by Too Much Joy in their above-quoted paean to the pathos of pissantry:
Hey, every time you make a choice
Yeah, half your life is gone
All’s you’ve got’s a few big dreams divided into many small regrets
Like everybody else
Spare yourself one self-recrimination: Choose diversity in stock photography. And never regret commenting below.