Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Yellow Ribbons

The war lasted longer than the UV resistance of your sticker. I take great cynical pleasure in noting the yellow ribbon / “Support the Troops” stickers and magnets on the rear of American cars are now steadily bleaching to white. It’s altogether tempting to push the analogy and see the accidental emergence of white flags. Short of that new symbolism, the aged appearance of the stickers at least marks the duration of a conflict outlasting the American attention span for simplistic, bandwagon, support. Consider the actual thought process of someone hypothetically renewing a sticker today. You can safely assume that most people never thought about when they would remove the first one, but not one person in a thousand ever imagined they’d need to buy another one. To buy another sticker is to engage in a conscious renewal of support, despite the new circumstances and information that can inform that decision. In the majority of cases, the initial support decision was probably not made based on information, but rather on an emotional response. At this level of emotion, the absence of renewed stickers marks a genuine trend.

The stickers functioned to represent support of [complicity with] an administration’s actions and, as representations, they just as readily mark distance from that earlier state. There is an obvious correlation between faded white stickers pervading the highways and declining support for a war. A degraded sticker conveys information as strongly as a new one, which begs the question of which direction the correlation works. Consider the scenario where a driver is thinking of nothing in particular, and spies the battered, bleached sticker on a rear hood in front of them. In that instant they are confronted with the reality of how long the conflict has gone on; long enough to fade that little image of a ribbon. The sticker now functions as a representation of an ongoing, unresolved situation and essentially advertises that ugly reality. Can that "advertisement" accelerate the erosion of support for a war?