Hunting for Zippers in the Emperor’s New Clothes

13 Sep 2001
September 13, 2001

I remember one night being so scared I wouldn’t go to sleep. I’d been watching Invaders from Mars on TV for the fourth night in a row. When I yelled for my mom, she opened the bedroom door and told me “just think good thoughts” (as if that was going to work). When it didn’t, she forced me to watch it again with her the next night. Only when she pointed out the zippers on the Martians’ skin could I think about anything good.

The story above is from a photo/text piece I made in the late 80s. I took the photograph at a park on Victoria Island, BC. The howitzers guarded the Straits of Juan de Fuca during World War II.

horoscopeThe juxtaposition of this image with my vivid memory from childhood reminded me of 1950s science fiction movies, like Invaders from Mars. The U.S. government, when faced with annihilation from an unknown enemy, always called out the big guns, only to have them vaporized by weapons of amazing force. Much has been written about these lightly veiled allegories to the Cold War.

They’re telling us we are at war, again with forces unseen. Despite my mother’s loving advice, it’s difficult now to think about anything good. But I think our strength will be in the collective hunt for those zippers.

© 2001-2015 Jeff Gates ISSN 1544-4074