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On Barbie's Fiftieth Birthday

We have written about Eddie Adams’ infamous, Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the execution of a Viet Cong prisoner in the middle of a street in Saigon before (here, here, and here) It is among a small handfull of photographs regularly referred to when one talks or writes about the Vietnam War—the others include most prominently the “Burning Monk,” “Accidental Napalm,” and the “Kent State Massacre.”

As with so many other iconic photographs, it retains its symbolic currency through mass circulation and reproduction, a process of distribution that animates it as an inventional resource for cultural commentary and critique as it is appropriated, performed, and parodied to particular cultural and political interests.  We were recently reminded of the ubiquity of such usages by a post at where a number of such efforts have been collected.  A quick google search turned up a number of others, including one by an artist named minipliman that appears to be joining the mass media celebration of Barbie’s fiftieth birthday:

We leave it to our readers to decide how the legend for this image should read … though on second thought, perhaps in this case “no caption” really is needed.

Photo Credit: Eddie Adams/AP; minipliman


On Barbie's Fiftieth Birthday


2 Responses

  1. Sid Monr0e says

    FYI, a truly great new book was just released last week: Eddie Adams: Vietnam. It is published by Umbrage Editions and edited by Alyssa Adams. Many acclaimed journalists attended the launch event, including Bill Eppridge, John Filo, brothers Pete and Brian Hamill, and Nick Ut. A post with photographs from the book launch is on our blog:

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