Clearly, TTAG reader and gun blogger Mikeb30200 hasn’t perused Zed Nelson’s coffee table classic Gun Nation. Otherwise Mikeb wouldn’t have been so impressed by the Huffington Post’s condescending collection of derisory images entitled Why Is That Gun There? The Most Ridiculous Firearm Owners Ever (PHOTOS). The HuffPo’s pictorial polemic is the worst kind of Bill O’Reilly / Rachel Maddow-style commentary: nasty, close-minded, low-quality, anti-intellectual tripe that invites its consumers to bask in their righteousness by pissing on their opponents. In comparison, Nelson’s work is genuinely thought provoking. [Sample Image above.] goodreads.com provides an excellent description of Gun Nation’s gestalt, with one important caveat . . .
This hard-hitting visual essay, shot throughout the United States over a three-year period, shows how deeply guns are ingrained in the American way of life. Haunting photographs of ordinary people living ordinary lives reveal a world where firearms have become as American as apple pie, where Magnums and Uzis replace pitchforks and bibles as national symbols of freedom; here large sectors of society are as naked without their weapons as they’d be without their cars. With crazed day traders and resentful adolescents mowing down large numbers of their fellow citizens every few weeks, and a death toll of over 30,000 US citizens killed by gunfire every year, these images provide a disturbing insight into a culture saturated with weaponry, and raise serious questions about every American’s cherished ‘right to bear arms’.
You catch that? The reviewer couldn’t resist imposing his or her political perspective on Nelson’s work. Amazon‘s house reviewer does exactly the same thing:
“Guns seem to have followed me around most of my working life,” writes award-winning British photojournalist Zed Nelson, who has covered armed conflict in Afghanistan, Somalia, El Salvador and elsewhere, before photographing U.S. guns and gun owners. Gun Nation, a collection of 103 of Nelson’s images, displays shots of gun shows, gunshot victims, Columbine survivors and mourners, a coffee klatch-style group of female gun owners, and police are interspersed with brief commentary that leaves no doubt as to where his sympathies lie.
What is that? Does Amazon worry that buyers might think that Gun Nation is pro-gun? Or is the reviewer so close-minded that he or she can’t see that Gun Nation is an incredibly honest artistic work. It’s the antithesis of the Huffington Post’s sleazy schadenfreude.
Mikeb30200 and I don’t see eye-to-eye on any number of gun-related issues. But we share a desire for genuine debate on life-or-death issues. Once again, the HuffPo isn’t helpful in that regard.