deconstruct this!

Check out the homepage for the RSA conference.
The representation of masculinity and tech savior has me laughing hysterically. Drawing for the fears of prohibition, this savior/detective/corporate icon requires a gun to secure us all. And that red tie flowing – what on earth is that to represent?

Is this what security techies aspire to be like? Sooo funny.

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10 thoughts on “deconstruct this!

  1. Aaron

    Hey, who gave you the heads up to that image? Must be one cool dude who’s got his finger on the pulse.

  2. Sarah

    I like the 40’s spy connotation… plays into the “we’re up against evil, like Hitler” fears.
    not something agreeable, but they ain’t dumb.

  3. srl

    George Chauncey, in /Gay New York/, talks about how red ties were worn by gay men in the early 1900s as a sort of “I’m one too” secret handshake.

  4. Alli

    The red tie makes me think of a bullfighter’s red cape for some reason; it makes him look even stronger.

    I love how awful the all-caps text looks at the bottom.

  5. doctor paradox

    i think the graphic means “if you want to secure your computing environment, you’re gonna have to shoot your wintel box and get an OS X Mac.”

    or maybe i’m just projecting.

    sexy tie on that queer brickhouse of a security dude!

  6. Todd X

    the kind of guys that use words like thwart and smuggle when describing rather unexciting services.

    the graphic looks like really bad eighties cover art for Hammett, Goldsmith, or Highsmith novel.

  7. CryptoXY

    Ah, the delights of Blue State scholarship! Ummm, for you post-McLuhan folk, let’s see: Prohibition was the era of Eliott Ness and his “Untouchables,” right? But it was the 20s, not the 40s!

    “Dick Tracy” was a Chicago cop from the 1930s — Warren Beatty’s movie had it down — but a more cynical generation reduced Tracy to “Fearless Fosdick,” a simpleton fighting villians of labelled but bloodless evil.

    During most of the Dry Years, Dashiell Hammett was still a strike breaker for the Pinkertons, although he became the Continental Ops scribe who gave us “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Thin Man,” among other lurid classics, as the era came to a close. Post-war PI paperbacks were a rich genre, but their cover art never came close to this class — not in the 50s, and certainly not in the 80s!

    The bad guys of Prohibition were the dastardly smugglers and the outlaw gangs who distributed beer and strong spirits to the jazz-lovin’ flappers and the other uninhibited denizens of the speakeasy underground. Spurred by the largely XX-chromosome Anti-Saloon League, two-thirds of the US Congress and three-forths of the states had voted to demonize Devil Rum in the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. US lawmen were duely sworn and armed to thwart the thirsty and safeguard American Civilization against the depradations of consumable alchohol.

    Pray, serious scholars all, won’t you grant the poor artist a little license for the film noir mood? Appreciate, however briefly, before you sneer?

    Methinks the artist brought a far greater capacity for depreciating humor to this image than you credit him with. In context — “The Codes of Prohibition” — a cartoon of a double-vested GQ lawman in a Doktor Caligari landscape offers sly homage to the moral ambiguity of Prohibition.

    Zephoria sees this as someone’s “representation of masculinity and tech savior?”

    Oh my! (The poster art vs the editorial comment from the blog mistress, which is more revealing? A PBS survey, please?)

    For what it’s worth, behind this lawman in his golden duster, it was a woman, Elizabeth Friedman — part of an American husband-wife team that transformed modern cryptanalysis just before WWII — who cracked many of the rum-runner codes. Mrs. Friedman, ex-librarian, Washington housewife and mother — the brilliant wife of the Chief of the US Army’s tiny Signals Intelligence Service — worked part-time for the US Treasury Department as a code-cracker at the height of Prohibition. It was she who provided the ocassional decryption that sent the Coasties and the valiant G-men dashing out (red ties flapping?) to foil the villainous smugglers trying to slip illegal spirits across American’s impossibly long and porous borders.

    I’ve been to many of RSA’s annual crypto conferences. Typically, their themes and imagery have tried to highlight code-breaking and cryptanalysis at dramatic moments in history. If someone has an irresistable urge to force a testosterone projection into such imagery, you might have blown an academic fuse the year they did medieval crypto (men in gowns;-), or the year they used Mary Queen of Scots, undone by Elizabeth’s lace-ruffled court code-breakers. Last year’s theme celebrated the math of 13th Century Chinese cryptography, and the iconic image was the rigid pale ranks of Qin Shi Huang’s magnificent terra cotta army — buried and lost for centuries, guarding the tomb of China’s first emperor. Love to see someone deconstruct that image.

    Of course, deconstruction without benefit of some confining text, without some reference points in reality, typically generates absurdities. It celebrates any interpretation, however dumb, as intrinsicly valid. GIGO. A misquote from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” comes to mind, hinting at the risk of a flawed baseline:

    “Blessed are the Cheesemakers.”

    (Beg pardon for the meandering response. Waiting through a kid’s rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” obviously leaves a man with too much time on his hands;-)

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