The new Norman Rockwell

Art must imitate life.  Norman Rockwell's paintings are now offensive and "unsafe" because the images they portray are deemed to be undeserving, ill-gotten gains at best and evil exclusionary rituals at worst.  These images painted by Norman Rockwell and once lived by us are now the visual equivalent of so-called hate speech.  In alignment with this new fact, the Rockwell paintings of the "old" way of life are destined for trash bags at the civic center on shredding day.  Perhaps acceptable replacements will soon follow. 

Picture a modern series of Norman Rockwell Paintings called The New Norman.  The series would start off with a painting called Spitting on Police.  In this work, we see hundreds of people, all hands waving, leaning forward as they purse their lips in preparation for spitting on the police officer in front of them.  Next in the series is The Punch of Morning.  Here we see a pregnant woman walking up Lexington Avenue, stopping at the light.  The early sun shines on a homeless woman's fist hitting the pretty barrette in the pregnant woman's hair.  Last in the series is Subway Commute.  In this work, a man is on the subway floor by a pole, bleeding, and the crowd around him is running to the next subway car.

The second series is The Border.  The first painting of this series is Coming to See My President.  In this painting, a crowd of illegal aliens, young and old, wearing dirty, torn clothes, stand still as two border patrol agents hold a tent open.  One man, in front of the tent, wipes his dirty hair out of his eyes, faces a reporter and her camera.  Next is Almost, where a young girl lies motionless next to a border tree with her face covered by a Barbie tee shirt.

The most talked about series would be Street-Sweets.  First in this series, Body of Choices, shows a main street gathering of an old man drinking from a glass whiskey bottle as he leans against the shoulders of a girl next to him.  The girl is hunched over, about to fall as a needle hangs from her arm and a belt is tied tightly just above it.  Underneath her is a young girl inhaling from a pipe as her boyfriend holds it.  Next is Legal, where we see two police officers walking past a restaurant as a group of kitchen workers stand in a circle, with one smoking a marijuana joint.

Norman Rockwell painted patriotism on canvas.  Small business and family had a visual cheerleader.  Paintings of diners, barbers, girls primping in mirrors, doctor visits are visual high fives for the kind of peaceful purity achieved only through freedom.  Family and small business breed freedom-loving people.  Freedom is contagious, easily spread through casual contact.  The seemingly mundane routines of grocery errands, chatting with neighbors after talking out the trash, and making small talk while waiting in line are now enemy acts and on par with a parent taking the podium at the PTA meeting.  Enemy acts lead to thoughtcrime.

Until the sixties, patriotic cheers were uncontroversial and as nonpartisan as saying the sky is blue.  According to the current style of thinking, being anti-American indicates cultural enlightenment, while pro-American beliefs are naïve and ignorant.

For those of us feeling cold, iron bars every time we run laundry, drive a car, sign an office lease, and gaze at the street cameras while drinking coffee, our distant memories of freedom create deep pangs of loss and anger.  While thinking, voting, and meeting our individual commitments offer some solace, we may decide to cut off all memories of what American life once was.  We can begin by putting Norman Rockwell in the shredder.

Image: Middleground1.

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