Independence Day, 2015: Down With Chicken Overlords!
I’ve said before and I’ll say again, that I’m a crummy patriot. I’m a big fan of the Bill of Rights, though, and get a kick out of the idea that July 4th commemorates the day that Thomas Jefferson wrote a mean spirited letter to the Head of State. That letter now has a national holiday, and is enshrined in the Smithsonian, as the cornerstone of the very idea of Free Speech. As an English teacher and amateur comics creator…the idea of a single letter getting so much attention and celebration is pretty @#$%ing epic.
However…I’m not that good at the symbolism of Americana. Flags aren’t my thing, the sort of old school sloganism of Red, White and Blue doesn’t work for me. As a result, the idea of drawing a July 4th post presented it’s usual challenges. I also didn’t have anything really sarcastic to say, or that i felt was funny at all.
So…I fell back on Free Speech, and the fact that the past couple of weeks have been fairly epic in themselves, in the kinds of dialogues that are taking place nationally. The whole Supreme Court decision for equality in marriage was a massive triumph for the civil rights that we are supposed to stand for. I considered coloring this piece, and making the hurled lenticular shield have a rainbow, to represent that specifically.
Also, nationally states are debating whether its appropriate for the Confederate flag to fly over state institutions. It bewilders me that it ever did, since the battle flag is directly about taking arms to commit treason against the Federal Government. As the government, I can’t see how it was ever a good idea…you had a whole war to settle the very point of secession and treasonous action. It also fundamentally undermined the Emancipation Proclamation, a major motivation for undertaking the war in the first place. You know…the fact that the battle flag is a symbol of institutionalized, legal racism? That one. The fact that this dialogue is happening, and that major online and offline vendors have straight up refused to carry products bearing that mark…that’s another massive change for the better against the forces of old and evil.
I’m less happy that the dialogue is about the flag, than about what it is in our culture that seems to perpetuate violent hatred…but, baby steps, right?
It did create a fascinating conversation with a friend about that conversation nationally. About the difference between curtailing hate groups and violent expression, and editing history into something that you like more and find more acceptable. When people talk about taking down statues of Jefferson Davis, I worry a bit that we are editing history and culture to our liking, more than being sensitive. Then again, I’m not sure that we shouldn’t remove such a statue…he was President of what ultimately was a nation formed from secession, the Head of State for a nation begun by what modern definitions would call an act of domestic terrorism.
If we take the statue down, though, do we forget the things that it was about? Do we make it easier to gloss over the unfortunate parts of our collective history? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s more content for a museum of Civil War History, than it is for a public piece of artwork. Again…for the first time, these are real discussions taking place, about the responsibility we have to be sensitive and appropriate to all citizens.
The debate makes me wonder about the impact of all symbols of the “Old South.” I certainly was not going to put a Confederate Battle Flag on that ‘mech…it didn’t sit right, even if it was about to get wrecked by a thrown lenticular shield. I did need a symbol of the Old South, and quickly, that turned my thoughts to Colonel Sanders. Apparently, Adequacy is the Colonel’s first appearance in comics, but it will not be his last.
San Diego Comic Con is this week, and as an “exclusive” for the event, they are publishing their own comic about Colonel Sanders. It was announced last week, to my knowledge, via Facebook post: “If you love comics and fried chicken and subliminal marketing,” KFC states in one of their posts, “then you’ll love this free exclusive #SDCC comic about me.”
“Me” of course, is the Colonel.
Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders, has been resurrected several times since his death in 1980 (in almost Marvel Comics like fashion) for advertising campaigns. His image was revived in May of 2015 for a series of television commercials — Sanders’ first in 21 years — starring former Saturday Night Live comedian Darrell Hammond. One in five people say they hate the new ads, which apparently is a win for KFC. Go figure that out.
Maybe the fact that SDCC is distributing a biographical comic about a fast food icon, as a form of “viral advertising” is the best expression of American values and free speech today. Whatever you think, Gentle Readers, have a fine Saturday, preferably among friends.