Call for Papers
Bad Subjects Issue #87:
BAD SUBJECTS Issue #87 investigates how the topic of weapons is woven into the fabric of society and is broadly defined in the popular psyche and technological history. From words to pictures, to media culture and cinema, a culture of weaponry--from handguns to drones and beyond----preoccupies the global imagination.
Creative articles on how weapons impact daily life in human interaction, geopolitics, or the life of cities or other are strongly encouraged. Weapons are unsettling, technological phenomenon prone to inducing controversy, horror, pleasure, and pain. The very word 'weapon' touches a powerful nerve in American identity, that of property and liberty.
Then there is the freedom to arm oneself which for many is a concept deeply embedded in the American mind. Whether in response to real or perceived threat, personal weapons have an attraction, use, and appeal. In art, media culture, literature, and film scripts that appeal manifests as images and words; a culture of ideas. Since Sandy Hook and Isla Vista, a renewed debate about gun control counteracts the virulent demand for gun freedom from the conservative right. Indeed, notions of “weaponry” extend far beyond that which can be worn on the body, or carried, or used by a single individual shooter when entire nations are beset with the forever marks of bombs, bullets, chemicals, and military actions. Historic events may offer an understanding of where American society stands with respect to military force, military aid, or the Second Amendment, but do they put us any closer to self-reliance, sovereignty, and the pursuit of happiness?
What do guns signify and how are they, or are they not, significant? Are weapons an idea, lodged in our minds, colonizing our thoughts to the point of no return? How can we dislodge their power over us and send it, naked and vulnerable, into the world, like a frightened piece of game? This is the purpose of this issue.
We are opposed to “open carry” and want more regulation and gun control. We have been active in the history of anti-war and anti-military activity. We seek articles addressing history; articles on art, cinema, culture, political life. We want to look at weapons, at guns and gun worship; at weapons and sexuality, at war and at peace.
In a remarkable work, The Ray Gun Museum, Claes Oldenburg placed a large collection of small plastic, wood, and metal gun-shaped items he'd found over time on display in a gun shaped room. The artwork talks about the symbolism of the gun shape and what it signifies; the likeness of the found object to the gun.
Thus, we have contradictions. We relentlessly glamorize the weapon, sexualize it, make it part of gender; fool with it. A femininity of wiles is often considered insidiously complex and amoral. We make poison, cast spells, bewitch and beguile while the gangster, and the gun moll, model unequal power relations in film noir after film noir and the masculinized, westernized military industrial complex dominates virtually all of Hollywood from The Terminator to Iron Man to Full Metal Jacket and Zero Dark Thirty,despite Lara Croft! Man and his Technology reigns supreme.
An even newer weapon, possibly, has emerged since 9/11, that of a pure ideology, immaterial absolutes and a global political spectrum laced with ideas emerging fresh from the US lead “War on Terror”. The Internet as terminal hiding place, as battlefield, cities as vulnerable, and surveillance as a necessary evil are ideas which reconstitute the feedback loop of the perpetual terrorist Other; a war machine.
What then, do events like the Bundy ranch face-off mean for "revolutionary" acts of freedom in the United States? How has the history of weapons influenced such events and what do they mean for the future of civil society?
Bad Subjects welcomes articles which will generate greater understanding about this complex topic. Submitted essays must be 1,000–3,000 words long. The deadline for submission is October 1. Please send completed essays (.rtf format), your contact information, and a brief author bio of 100 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Submission for Issue 87” in the subject line of the email.