If you're using a picture you find on the internet, you might want to know where it came from

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 10:18 AM

(Bioshock Infinite)

See the picture that leads this article? It's pretty intense, right? Techdirt shared a story this morning from a couple weeks ago about an anti-immigrant conservative Florida political group that posted this image on its Facebook. The only problem is that the image was lifted from the video game Bioshock Infinite, and was specifically intended to parody uncritical nationalism.

This isn't a new concept, necessarily. This story reminded me about how Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign championed Springsteen's "Born In the USA" as a "message of hope."

In context, the image is an obvious parody. Bioshock Infinite is not subtle in its portrayal of the game's antagonists as an extreme American secessionist group. I mean, mid-way through the game you have to fight a mechanized George Washington with American flags sticking out of its back. But the internet is awash in images totally divorced from their original contexts, and as such, people reconfigure and reinterpret them as they see fit in ways that can be smart, hilarious, or  even cruel.

If you are trying to make some kind of political statement, it seems like a good idea to make at least a cursory attempt to find out where it comes from. Otherwise you might end up using an image from ABC's Modern Family as the cover of your book about traditional family values. 


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Comments [3]

David Farmbrough from Wisconsin

And it also makes sense to find out who owns the rights to the image and pay them.

Jan. 03 2014 04:03 PM

That game was like a Tea Party acid trip.

Jan. 01 2014 09:18 AM
Martin Hackworth

This is the type of thing should not be particularly surprising in a society, like ours, where credentials and pedigree are increasingly thought of as more important than demonstrating the actual ability to get anything done.

I'm sure that in the case of the conservative group in FL, it was just a lack of cultural perspective (anyone with any popular sense would have been suspicious of the purported message and origin of this image). Political campaigns, advertising campaigns and corporate campaigns, however, do silly things like this all of the time, because these are generally run by a small, culturally cloistered stratum of people who just don't get things that nearly everyone else does. Democrats and Republicans are essentially the same in this regard. Most of them are completely clueless to things that their constituents know all too well.

End of rant. All the best for the New Year.

Dec. 31 2013 12:23 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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