JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 285
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Nancy K. Miller
people are constantly being told that life is the only thing that matters. It doesn't
say that death is noble, which is what supporters of the war might like it to say,
and it doesn't say that death is absurd, which is what critics of the war might like
it to say. It only says that death is real, and that in a war, no matter what else it
is about, people die" (277). And this is why, as Maya Lin had known from the
start, people cry when they confront the monument.
20. Three photographs accompany the New York Times article reporting
Kim Phuc's appearance at the wall. The original photograph, a close-up of a
meditative headshot, and an image of Kim wiping her eyes with a handkerchief,
as she bows her head, standing next to an erect, expressionless, Caucasian soldier
in uniform. The article ends with Kim's summary of her life. Explaining that her
name means "Golden Happiness" in Vietnamese, Kim concludes: "My character
is not sad, not angry. In my house, I'm always laughing, smiling, smiling"
21. "The photo that will be reproduced many times," Hariman and Lucaites
argue against received wisdom, "is itself not the record of a unique set of
circumstances, but rather a dramatic depiction of those features of the war that
are recurring over and over again past the point of caring" (43).
22. The tension between realism and abstraction played itself out between
the partisans of Lin's monument and those who insisted on adding a statue of
soldiers, soldiers who looked like the men who fought. That led to the creation
of another statue representing the nurses.
23. Arguably, the Eddie Adams image of a Vietcong suspect being shot in
the head pointblank by a South Vietnamese police chief also has come to stand
as an icon for the horrors of the war-and played a role in making the public
disgusted with the war. "A filmed version of the startling event was shown on
international television"-but as in the case of the Kim Phuc photograph, the still
photograph fixed the image in the American mind (Karnow 518).
24. And many reactions to the photograph comment on the suffering of
children-a kind of generic innocence, from which all markers of race and
responsibility have also conveniently been erased. In one of its publicity flyers
for an Associated Press show in which a series of iconic photos are presented
serially, as if on a roll of negatives, the brother with his mouth open ends the
series-the rest of the image is cut off to fit the size of the page (Newsmuseum,
May 15-Sept. 26, 1998).
25. Throughout the film, Kim alternately dabs at her eyes to stay the tears and
smiles, smiling through the tears. Only the French have resisted the appeal of the
tears. Reviewing the film that was televised in 1997, the reviewer concludes that
the filmmaker has presented "a remarkable person who has drawn extraordinary
strength from her suffering," but "This strength was somewhat ridiculed, alas, by
the tear-jerking scenes at the end of the film" (Hartmann 19; my translation). In
line with this politics, the image the newspaper used to illustrate the story on
iconic photographs is taken from the film, not the photograph; this version of the
photograph emphasizes the presence of soldiers and-including some to Kim's
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/31/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .