The Other Vietnam Syndrome: Corporeal Patriotism and Visualities of Resistance
AbstractThis article argues that the emergence of the US counterculture contemporaneously with the Vietnam antiwar movement produced a visual coding of antiwar thought and action as dirty, messy, and most of all “hippie,” as a result of the visual differences between the most visible elements of the movement and the US mainstream. This coding of antiwar sentiment as visually Other was seized upon by the right as part of the process of remembering this era of US history, and I argue that this visual coding has over time evolved into a regime of visuality that deligitimises opposition to war and introduces a kind of corporeal patriotism where one’s loyalty to the state can be measured by an evaluation of one’s appearance. Whereas the Vietnam syndrome was an expression of elite disdain for public opposition to “the use of force” (i.e. military invasions), the other Vietnam syndrome (OVS) constitutes a regime of visuality that links visual deviance to opposition to war, with the intention of delegitimizing both and placing deviant-looking (and gendered) protesters outside the body of the “legitimate” public. The article provides historical and theoretical overviews of the OVS and discusses implications for contemporary protest movements.
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