“Innocence of Teddy Bears” explores the cultural function of guns, violence, and free speech.
Guns and violence have been among the most powerful symbols of American culture from the Revolution through the Civil War and the Wild West into the twentieth century's globalizing conflicts and the twenty-first century’s corporate imperialism. Furthermore, the mere existence of guns, particularly pistols and assault rifles whose sole purpose is to kill, injure, harm, coerce and frighten people, reveals a seemingly irrepressible sense of violent oppositionality in human history.
Building on that foundation, this video addresses a number of dialogical relationships. Dialogics are an alternative frame for understanding ideas that are seemingly opposed to each other. Unlike dialectics, which attempts to resolve contrasting and contradictory ideas in transcendence or unification, dialogics invites consideration of how those ideas are mutually constitutive - how they create each other, how they are interdependent.
A short list of the dialogical relationships at play here includes a number of overt and covert themes. Most obvious and primary are the connections between innocence (or naïveté) and ‘reality’ as well as between peace and violence. Beneath that are connections between youth and maturity; love and hate; progression and regression; movement and stasis; joy and despair.
Lastly, the title of this piece is a reference to recent events surrounding a video created by one faction of religious extremists for the sole purpose of insulting and inciting another faction to violence. This title helps to reveal an increasingly critical and complex relationship between free and restricted speech, especially as they connect with expanding global conflict caused by religious and economic imperialisms.
No one is innocent.