Format: video with audio
Running time: approx. 6 min 03 sec.
Summary: Someone dislikes our AK Bunny t-shirt design - does the picture promote violence? Does it encourage a re-examination of non-violence? We ask angry viewer to educate us!
[ graphic: The following is a video response to a viewer e-mail. ]
[ Pinky reading e-mail: ] "To the creators of The Pinky Show - SHAME ON YOU. Your new t-shirt design is an affront to believers of peace and freedom everywhere. I DO NOT WANT a shirt that supports war or guns."
Pinky: For those of you who don't know the design she's referring to, here it is. [ shirt graphic ] Here's our reply.
Dear aol.com person, Thank you for your e-mail. We appreciate your comments.
Here at The Pinky Show we are interested in learning. Our method is straightforward - we try to ask the most obvious or simple questions, and then we do the research until we feel like we've found an answer that has some kind of explanatory power. Or sometimes we ask experts. But one thing we've found over and over is that simple questions usually cannot be addressed intelligently with simplistic answers. The world is complex, and we've noticed that more often than not, simplistic answers only cultivate stupidity.
In light of this, we'd like to ask you a few simple questions.
[ graphic: ] Number 1: How does an image of a cat holding a gun support war or guns?
Number One. Please explain exactly how an image of a cat holding a gun supports 'war' or 'guns'? If you could provide some evidence illustrating cause and effect, that would be great.
Number Two. Is non-violence something that you believe in for every one and in every situation?
[ graphic: ] Number 2: Is there such a thing as a 'legitimate' use of violence?
Would you condemn someone for resorting to violence in response to brutal attacks against themselves, their family, their land, or their country?
[ graphic: ] Number 2 (continued): Does a person's status as oppressed or oppressor change their relationship to violence?
More importantly, do you hold oppressed and oppressor to the same standards of behavior?
Number Three. Your e-mail made me think of a quote by Malcolm X.
Malcolm X: Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
Pinky: Do you condemn this statement? Why or why not?
Number Four. The gun Bunny is holding is an AK-47. That particular gun - perhaps more than any other weapon of the 20th century - is itself an icon. For hundreds of millions of people around the world the AK-47 represents liberation and revolutionary struggle - against American Imperialism as well as many other forms of oppression. This same gun, for other people, may represent suppression, genocide, and violence in general. So does Bunny's AK-47 represent liberation or oppression? Or both simultaneously?
Number Five. Let's say you couldn't identify the gun as an AK-47, don't know what AKs represent to people, and so on. A reasonable question would then be, "Does it matter?"
[ graphic: ] Number 5: Is the interpretation of symbols a personal or social process?
Does ignorance of a symbol's historical, political, or cultural significance invalidate these connections? I mean, it is what it is, whether you know what it is... no? Or to put it more broadly - can a person demand that a certain image can only be correctly understood one way?
Well, we have more, but let's just start with those five.
Our basic feeling is that this picture of Bunny with the gun is not a 'simple' image. We think images are, by nature, complex, ambiguous, and can be read in lots of different ways. That's why we like pictures - they're kind of like peep-holes that allow us to experience a more nuanced reading of the world.
Anyway, we continue to be very interested in analyzing stuff. So we hope you will e-mail us back some thoughtful answers.
research: Pinky, Bunny
sound effects: Bunny
other images: titles & graphics by Pinky
Bunny w/ gun design: Pinky
[ image credits ]