Sticking Points

Straight and to the point. Visual politics in the English-speaking world. A group column, by Souciant and friends.


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Namaste Y'All

Namaste Y’All

When you pay close attention to the way people use bumper stickers in the United States right now, it becomes apparent that they usually serve a countercultural purpose. Because the perception of which culture needs to be countered varies widely, however, it is emphatically not the case that a coherent counterculture, whether left or right-wing, can be discerned from them. More»

A Way With Words

A Way With Words

While it might seem perverse to call someone who is constantly berated for his imprecision a master rhetorician, Donald Trump has demonstrated time and time again that he has the rare gift of being able to cast a spell over the media with his blend of hyberbole, bluster and hearsay. True, it might cost him the presidential election in November. More»

The Risk of Populism

The Risk of Populism

Over the past few weeks, as the mainstream media has finally started to recognize Bernie Sanders as a serious challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, it has become commonplace to equate him with Donald Trump. Both, we are told, are protest candidates, supported by those who are “mad as hell” about the establishment in Washington and its masters on Wall Street. But are they really equivalent? More»

Left in Melancholy

Left in Melancholy

The light was fading fast when I spotted the truck out of the corner of my eye. I’d seen some good sets of bumper stickers over the years, but knew that few of them could compare with this one for sheer quantity. Turning my car around, though, I realized that I was in the sort of neighborhood in which strangers taking photographs are asking for trouble. More»

What Comes After the After Party?

What Comes After the After Party?

From the moment Barack Obama moved into the White House, conservatives have been turning to him for sustenance. They know they can rely on him to recharge their ideological batteries. In the suburban and rural enclaves where the right is strongest, particularly in the South and Southwest, trying not to find public expressions of hated towards the President is almost impossible. More»

Flagging the Divide

Flagging the Divide

Monday was Memorial Day in the United States a day to reflect on those who have died, willingly or not, for their country but also a day to reflect on what the commemoration of their deaths means politically. Established in the aftermath of a brutal civil war, it implicitly served to bring a divided nation closer together. Perhaps that’s why it has felt more important in recent years. More»

Is Green the New Brown?

Is Green the New Brown?

I do a lot of driving, most of it highly tedious. Two miles to the grocery store. Six miles to the mall. Twelve miles to work. The sort where every minute seems to count because the whole trip is so wearisome. In that context, it doesn’t take much to piss me off. I start stereotyping. Big pick-up trucks are driven by reckless assholes; European sedans by condescending elitists. More»

The Weakest Strongman

The Weakest Strongman

As the situation in the Ukraine worsened last month, the usual right-wing suspects started to circle the White House. A strong President, they declared, would never have let things get so far out of hand. And now that Russian troops have moved into the Crimea, their attacks on the Obama Administration are becoming more forceful each day. In their eyes, he has become “Putin’s bitch”, More»

Forget 911

Forget 911

The cars and trucks that draw my eye usually display an excess of public expression, with an array of bumper-stickers telling a complex and sometimes contradictory story of political and cultural allegiance. But sometimes I’m stopped short by a different kind of message, elegant as one of Ezra Pound’s Imagist couplets. Like this formulation: “Forget 911. I dial .357.” More»

Occupied Territories

Occupied Territories

Three times each week, from August through December, I walked by this SUV on the way to teach my first class. My mind would sometimes be preoccupied with its bumper stickers as I hurried to the classroom. After a while, they started to seem like a political koan, a puzzle I wasn’t meant to solve. More»

Jesus Is Coming

Jesus Is Coming

Sometimes, after a hard week, the smallest serendipities can do wonders. I was driving along, physically and emotionally spent, when I spied the sort of vehicle I photograph to use for this feature. Because it was a pick-up truck and because I was in a part of southern Arizona not noted for its liberalism, the “Jesus is coming” sticker I spotted first inspired dark thoughts. More»

Disgusting Politics

Disgusting Politics

There are times when the exuberant heterogeneity of the bumper stickers I see on many American vehicles seems to realign itself into a synchronized statement. Take this vehicle I found myself inching along behind the other day. I photographed it for the anti-establishment message dating back to the 2012 Presidential campaign, in which both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are deemed to provoke disgust. More»

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