Eddie Adams Vietnam War Analysis

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Eddie Adams’ photograph, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon is primary source depicting, what the public assumes, a savage South Vietnamese general breaking the laws of the Geneva Convention during the Tet Offensive. The antiwar movement rallied behind this photo because they characterized the brutality of the apparent war crime as a synecdoche of the entire war; however, the photo is heavily taken out of context (Elon). The man being executed, Nguyen Van Lem, was a NLF officer and assumed leader of a death squad who had just murdered an ARVN colonel, who is believed to be associated with Loan, and his entire family (CAH). Outraged at the man who murdered innocent civilians, Loan took matters
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The ability to transmit the images and the state of the war almost instantly made the Vietnam the first living room war. Photographs, such as those by Eddie Adams, could sway public opinion on the drop of a hat. Political cartoonists had field days as they were unrestricted and more brazen in their works. Arguably the most influential photograph of the Tet Offensive and the War, Eddie Adams’ General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon takes a seemingly self-explanatory situation extremely out of context (Elon). Despite not knowing the context, the antiwar movement rallied behind the image as a synecdoche of the brutality of the war. The limitations of not showing context is what makes photographs so influential in affecting public opinion. Photos, and most types of media, are up to viewer’s interpretation, and in such loaded photographs like Adams’ the viewer can be easily coerced into thinking a certain way. All of the horrific pictures and videos of the carnage that occurred on the Tet Offensive, as well as the negative press that the Johnson Administration received through political cartoons and other mediums, painted the war in the realistic light that it was. The war was no longer glorified like previous wars; The American public now know what war is really like: deception and

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