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
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.