This feature is based on a series of sketches I was doing for a Goth House calendar that never really came together -- mostly because I only had ideas I liked for about six of the twelve months. This was, as you might expect, July.
Sometime late in the nineties I noticed that, when I wasn't paying attention, flag-themed kitsch had become astonishingly, well, kitschy. Sequined stars-n-stripes baseball caps, red white & blue hip-hugger hot pants, beaded halter tops with, er, fortuitously placed blue stars. I found this odd and hilarious, especially in light of the fact that hippies sewing flag patches on their jeans used to be seen as disrespectful back in the sixties.
Anyway, this trend was kicked into overdrive after the September 11th attacks. Suddenly flag kitsch was a constant feature of the landscape, on t-shirts, bumper stickers, municipal decorations, coffee mugs, cell phone covers, doormats, tea cozies, bikinis, toothbrushes, footwear. There were flags flapping, tattered, from pickup trucks and monster SUVs. There were "flags" on newsprint, taped up in windows, growing yellow and brittle. Plastic flags made in China.
I alternate between cynicism and amusement. In a country where less than half of eligible adults vote, where civic involvement is at an all-time low, where in the interest of "fighting terrorism" people seem willing to surrender up the Constitution for the Bush Administration to use as, hrm,bathroom tissue -- our obsession with draping ourselves in patriotic imagery seems a little ironic, to say the least.
But there is hope. The punch line of this episode remained unwritten until today -- when a famously conservative Supreme Court decided that, even in Texas, the government doesn't have any business nosing into your sex life.
My country 'tis of thee....