The Shape of Apocalypse Now
When Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is assigned a secret mission, it seems like his life has a new purpose, or least will keep him from self-destruction for a time, so he is on the up, up the Nung River to kill Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Although heading into unknown danger, he can smell napalm in the morning with Kilgore (Robert Duvall), and keep his head while all those around him are losing theirs, literally. Progress up the river is actually a descent into hell, until he is released from his imprisonment to fulfil his destiny as Kurtz’s executioner and executor. Another traumatic experience hasn’t killed him nor made him stronger. He has slipped a couple of clicks below where he started.
They say, it is said, that every picture tells a story. In this case, the picture is the story:
It is a story about the way that we see people as types, as typical of being this or that. In this political context, it is in relation to the demographics of voting and pollsters who bandy categories such as ‘white van man’. A photograph such as this taken by a wealthy member of the political elite during a byelection sensitive to issues such as immigration and belonging to a political party with no political affiliation with the working class patriotism suggested by the van and the national flags in the image, could only be seen as being snobbish and sneering regardless of whatever it was really trying to ‘say’. In the game of politics, the endgame was a swift distancing from the offensive attitudes such an image can be perceived to be harbouring. The politician was forced to take a step down from her elevated status as a clear message to the electorate that such condescending attitudes to ‘ordinary working people’ are not typical of Labour Party elite values.
As a digital story the shape is a rise and sudden fall of the kind that can happen to anyone, especially in the expanded public sphere of social media. But it is the temporal aspect of digital stories that is particularly arresting – the speed of stories in the digital media environment is turbo-charged.