Memorial Day should be observed by honoring the men and women in the military who have fallen for America. New York Magazine has found another way of observing the Memorial Day Weekend while at the same time pushing a certain political agenda. They have invaded the privacy of World War II servicemen and their families by publishing nude photographs of them: 10 Intimate Photographs of World War II Soldiers in the Buff.
Writer Christopher Bonanos can barely contain his excitement over the photos as he practically drools over himself while eagerly pushing a socio/political agenda at a time when those who have fallen should be honored:
The fleet is in! And so is My Buddy: World War II Laid Bare (Taschen Books), an astounding collection assembled by the excellent smut historian Dian Hanson. We see, in this chunky Taschen volume, hundreds of nameless men photographed in groups, nude or nearly so, by fellow soldiers, sailors, corpsmen, and airmen.
Two obvious questions, neither of which has an obvious answer, leap to mind immediately. Were these photos (at least the unposed ones, of which there are many) surreptitiously made? And just how aware were the photographers and subjects that these pictures are extremely homoerotic?
Two obvious questions leap to mind immediately. Why is Bonanos using Memorial Day Weekend to act as a sleazy voyeur like "smut historian," Dian Hanson? And is he embarrassed by using this time to push his political agenda?
Bonanos continues snarking away creepily. You definitely know where his mind is at:
Moreover, we forget — and are reminded by an essay in the book by a World War II Marine named Scotty Bowers — about the physical closeness that these fighting men lived with. There’s no privacy in a foxhole; showers were rare and often communal, and toilets were open-hole latrines. If you served on the field of combat, you saw other men naked a lot more than you might today, even if you go to the gym after work. As Bowers points out, practical jokes that many of us would now consider invasive — slipping a hand down someone’s pants to tweak his penis, say — were within the realm of just-boys-being-boys high jinks. “Just grab-ass,” they’d say.
...It would literally never occur to a lot of these guys that their photos give off sexual heat. To them, sex was for men and women, end of story, and God knows there are no women in these pictures. But of course a significant number of these guys found themselves at least partway up the Kinsey scale, and had experienced in some way sex with other men, whether just a fleeting encounter or something more permanent. (There are well-documented stories of gay soldiers in the U.S. armed forces going back to George Washington’s army, and the Newport sex scandal of 1919 occurred two full decades before this era.) I think it’s fair to say that most of these pictures were made without the least thought of their sexiness, but that the camera’s eye — as in so many things — reveals something true not only about the subject but about the photographer as well.
...We’re conditioned to an uncomplicated image of the heroic soldier, in formerly crisp, now rumpled uniform, toughing it out. That these guys were not cardboard but human — that they goofed around, smacked each other on the butt now and then, maybe even sized up each other’s dicks at the swimming hole on a Pacific island — reveals merely that they were ordinary, often crude, sometimes ridiculous teenagers. That's okay, too. We don't have to exalt them at every moment to remember that they won the war.
Since New York Magazine felt it was perfectly fine to publish nude photos of WWII servicemen then we can assume they would have no reluctance to expose themselves as well. Yes, my challenge to the New York Magazine staff is to publish on their website their own nude photos. Oh, and have Bonanos go bananas again with a drooling critique of the pics.