Pop Art Impact to Guns, Violence, Civil Rights and Political Reforms

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1661 Words
Date:  2022-04-14


Gun-related violence has been a thorny issue in the USA for a couple of decades. It has seen the deaths of thousands of people each year. However, the government could not combat this type of violence creating a room for a lot of unanswered questions from the general public. Civil rights activists, lobby groups among other individuals have carried out nationwide campaigns with the aim of using the government to ensure it controls this type of violence. Pop art has similarly played an essential role in highlighting various issues affecting the society. Pop art involvement has played a crucial role in highlighting the 1968 riots after Martin Luther king's murder including political revolution related to guns, violence and civil liberties.

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Gun Violence History

On December 15th 1791, The USA Congress at the time adopted a regulation which stated that "A well-regulated militia, composed of the body if the people, being the best security of free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed: but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."F Following the passing the rule, it gave a citizen a freedom for bearing and keeping arms. The Supreme Court similarly indicated that this right should not be in anyway infringed by the government for it belongs to the citizens as contained in the Bill of Rights. Additionally, the liberty is unrestricted and in no way does it forbid all control of guns or any other devices used by a person. Through this, it ensured that it would increase the ability for people to have self-defense capabilities.

Following the passing of the 2nd Amendment, USA citizens have continued to acquire firearms with the aim of self-defense. However, there has been a high case of gun-related violence in the nation which has seen protest by people to ensure the government protects its citizens from such incidents. However, the government in most cases has no power to control gun violence as seen from NRA's involvement. NRA has continually stated that the 2nd amendment is in place to ensure that every citizen can protect their families, themselves, against government tyranny and liberty. However, gun related violence in the USA has led to deaths of millions of people.

Since 1968, more than 1.5 million people have lost their lives. These numbers are much higher as compared to American lives lost during various wars in USA's history. In the USA, more than 30,000 people die as a result of gun related incidents. However, this number continues to increase each day for as of 2016, there were 56,000 gun violence-related incidents. As seen in the 1956 film The Searchers, it highlights gun-related violence cases. The iconic hero in the movie on a horse ride decides to use gun violence in taming the West. He does not care who he kills even his niece. Throughout the film, it relates to how guns do not support protection or self-defense purposes, instead of of killings. The leading actor, Edward, has hatred for Indians and thus decides to kill any Indian who crosses his path.

Pop Art in the USA

During the 1960s, a new artistic phenomenon emerged in the USA referred to as pop culture. It developed as a result of increased changing of the consumer needs and ants habits a wave that spent all over the entire nation. At this time, most people focused on quality and value unlike the previous set of consumers before the 1960s. However, pop art has similarly been linked to various societal and political happenings in the USA. The men made up a considerable percentage of the artists within this type of art. Through pop art, the American culture brought forward an artistic manifestation of its own culture. Through pop art, the various artists highlighted incidents of stereotyping, discrimination, violence among other factors that negatively or positively affected an American citizen usual way of life.

Back in the 1960s, the USA saw increased cases of political assassinations, gun violence cases, and human rights infringements. A considerable part of the population decided to take side including the artists. Some people would lobby in the streets s they condemned the government for not taking action as result of such incidents. However, for artists, they used their skills in presenting a number of these incidents as art. Two notable artists who used their artistic skills during this period are Roy Lichtenstein's presentation of the Pistol and Andy Warhol's electric chair. Additionally, other artists participated in various forums that aimed at pushing the government to abandon its involvement in different human rights related actions through the different pieces of art presented by the pop artists; they acted as springboards for protest demonstrations. Warhol similarly submitted multiple images of blacks undergoing unfair racial treatment by police which aimed at denouncing the police brutality and call for the government to take action. In 1968, artists likewise stood together with the police brutality victims and 200,000 individuals who were to face charges for involving themselves in protests. It is an indication that pop art played an essential role towards pushing for political reform in the USA.

Andy Warhol Electric Chair

Following the execution of Timothy McVeigh and Illinois passing of death penalty regulations, Warhol came up with a representation of the electric chair. The art did not employ the use of bright colors as compared to his other notable art pieces. Instead, it had double electric chairs and an empty vastness which brought forward a theme of void and absence. The death sentence at the time had brought about increased public outcry about its ethicality and morality. Following this, his painting elicited a lot of debate about the death penalty despite Warhol denying there was no meaning with his art pieces. Nevertheless pictures reveal a lot of sensible responses to individual imagination contrary to Warhol's argments. The electric chair is located inside a quiet and unoccupied chamber highlighting a means through which an individual becomes punished. It showed a cruel instrument of offering justice thus highlighting the corrupt nature if the justice system. From the image, it meant at asking every individual whether capital punishment was a necessary undertaking. It is, therefore, a call for the government to rethink their stand on capital punishment and decide whether it is valid. According to the Electric Chair, capital punishment should be seen as an infringement of civil rights. In 1968, most of the riots aimed at restoring civil right liberties to the blacks who had undergone suffering due to the existing constitution at the time. Therefore, the electric chair despite trying to show that capital punishment is an inhumane act; it also formed a basis to push for the other civil liberties as per the Bill of Rights.

Roy Lichtenstein's Pistol 1968

Following the assassination of Luther King in 1968, the main aim was to silence one of the most influential nonviolent civil liberties activists. However, what followed after King's death were increased rates of violence from protestors. Additionally, the government law enforcement officials used violent means in calming down the demonstrators. However, as for the officials, they had employed such methods even before 1968, and it is what King was campaigning to stop. Lichtenstein being a pop art artist at the time, he was asked to provide pictures that would reflect the high rates of gun violence in the USA. Times magazine planned to use these two as a pictorial representation of their story. The picture depicts a hand holding a gun and a finger already on the trigger as it points to the viewer. At the time, the blacks faced a lot of racial discrimination which saw thousands fall at the hands of police. Through this piece of art by Lichtenstein, it is still remembered to date more than four decades later since it was produced. Through this, the government at the time changed the constitution in such manner that it provided equity to all its citizens. Through Lichsteiten pistol (1968) circulating in Times magazine, it was a call for moments of radical change in the USA.

Gun-related violence has been a thorny issue in the USA. Following the passing of the 2nd amendment, millions of people now own guns in the nation. In most cases, the NRA has said that it supports the bill as every citizen has the right to ensure he/she feels safe in their living environment. Additionally, throughout its history, the USA has suffered massive civil rights discrepancies. In 1968, the USA saw increased demonstrations as a result of increased cases of discrimination. The protests were similarly accompanied by massive rates of violence against innocent civilians by law enforcement officials. Additionally, the citizens used violence in the process. Pop art played an essential role towards ensuring some of these civil liberties were met. As seen in the case of Warhol's electric chair, it used for the government to reconsider death penalty as a means of justice. Lichtenstein pistol (1968) additionally highlighted the increased cases of gun-related violence in the nation in 1968 calling for radical changes. Pop art was, therefore, a representation of the American society.

List of References

Bauchner, Howard, Frederick P. Rivara, Robert O. Bonow, Neil M. Bressler, Mary L. Nora Disis, Stephan Heckers, S. Andrew Josephson et al. "Death by gun violence-A public health crisis." JAMA facial plastic surgery 20, no. 1 (2018): 7-8.

Capers, Bennett. "On Andy Warhol's" Electric Chair."" California Law Review 94, no. 1 (2006): 243-260.

Elmaleh, Eliane. "American Pop Art and political engagement in the 1960s." European Journal of American Culture 22, no. 3 (2003): 181-191.

Foster, Hal. "Death in America." October 75 (1996): 37-59.

Jens, Ludwig, " Reducing gun violence in America." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 46 (2017): 12097-12099

Lobel, Michael. Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art. Yale University Press, 2002.Mattick, Paul. "The Andy Warhol of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Andy Warhol." Critical Inquiry 24, no. 4 (1998): 965-987.

Pohl, Frances K. Framing America: a social history of American art. Thames & Hudson Limited, 2017.

Vandercoy, David E. "The History of the Second Amendment." Val. UL Rev. 28 (1993): 1007.

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Pop Art Impact to Guns, Violence, Civil Rights and Political Reforms. (2022, Apr 14). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/pop-art-impact-to-guns-violence-civil-rights-and-political-reforms

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