Evil sells burgers
The hammer and sickle has hardly been a potent icon since 1989 so if it is deemed effective in marketing burgers......who cares? On the basis that freedom is indivisible what possible grounds do a group of freedom lovers have to question another party's sense of propriety?RT sees the funny side: "Imagine how utterly gutted the communists must be feeling seeing their beloved symbol smacked onto a capitalist burger shop." BKD objects, and puts the case against:
If the marketing tool is effective in attracting patrons.......good luck to the business owners. If it ceases to work for them then the tool will be abandoned. Who knows the next ploy could be...."Saddam's Sausages" "Bush Burgers" (Whoops that cannot be appropriate). Years ago I knew a polio victim who ran a fish and chips shop, his own banner referred to "Cripple Cut Chips"......the pun did his cashflow
no end of good.
Would it be any different if it was a swastika instead of a hammer and sickle? Would you drink at the Lenin Bar if it was called 'Hitler'? Would you?
Using the hammer and sickle in a billboard reduces the iconography of evil into a marketing gimmick. While future evils can be prevented by ridiculing or trivializing them in the present, past evils can not, because to diminish them diminishes our historical memory of evil and its works. If we become familiar with a symbol in a happy context (and food is primal happiness), then how can that symbol shock us? And if the emblem of Stalin will not shock us, then for how long can Stalinists be stigmatized and isolated? A generation of children is growing up in a society where Che, Castro, a yellow star, and now a hammer and sickle are popular iconography: the stuff of tee-shirts and Happy Meals. Who will explain to these children just what these men did, just what was done under those banners? We are annihilating our historical memory by hiding it in plain view.
"The People Have Spoken" says the billboard. Which people? Natan Sharansky? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? Does nobody remember what happened to these people when they spoke? And those two lived. The Burger Fuel marketing team may consider itself brave by courting controversy. But real bravery is acting against evil that can do you harm. To the thousands and more who risked – and those who lost – everything they loved on Earth by denouncing the Soviets, by denouncing the hammer and sickle, this billboard is a contemptuous insult. What you we were willing to risk your life to destroy, we will use to sell burgers.
So yeah, I can see something wrong with this billboard. And I'm fucked if I'm going to let it go unchallenged. Who's with me?
UPDATE: Here's a discussion between two characters, Bolshevik firebrand Andrei Taganov, and the individualist heroine, Kira, from Ayn Rand's early 'Soviet' novel We the Living:
[Andrei:] "I know what you're going to say. You're going to say, as so many of our enemies do, that you admire our ideals, but loathe our methods."Interestingly, the wartime Italian Fascists made a film of this 'Anti-Soviet' novel (from which the photo above of Kira and Andrei comes) that rated so well and about which Mussolini was so proud that it was shown to Joseph Goebbels. 'You fools,' Goebbels was reported to have said, 'it's not just anti-Soviet, it's anti-all-of-us!' Goebbels at least was under no illusions about what Communism and Nazism had in common. (Stories about the film here and here.)
[Kira:] "I loathe your ideals."
"For one reason, mainly, chiefly, and eternally, no matter how much your Party promises to accomplish, no matter what paradise it plans to bring mankind. Whatever your other claims may be, there's one you can't avoid, one that will turn your paradise into the most unspeakable hell: your claim that man must live for t he state."
"What better purpose can he live for?"
"Don't you know," her voice trembled suddenly in a passionate plea she could not hide," don't you know that there are things, in the best of us, which no outside hand should dare touch? Things sacred because, and only because, one can say: 'This is mine'? Don't you know that we live only for ourselves, the best of us do, those who are worthy of it? Don't you know that there is something in us which must not be touched by any state, by any collective, by any number of millions?"
He answered: "No."
"Comrade Taganov," she whispered, "how much you have to learn!" More here.