"I'm just going to write because I can't help it."- Charlotte Brontë

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Horse power

Over the past few days, there have been many photos of the newly installed Super-Duper Leader Mark Two of a certain Asian country that recently lost a much beloved despot and which remains somewhat challenged when it comes to citizens’ rights. Said Super-Duper Leader Mark Two has been snapped climbing out of tanks, holding machine guns, and inducing hysterics in common folk with a single glance.

The photo that caught my attention, however, was the one of SDLM2 astride a horse which was constantly referred to as ‘a nervous-looking grey’. My first thought was a knee-jerk one along the lines of ‘You think?’ Then I realised that for a seemingly simple phrase, it was actually quite a cunningly constructed piece of biased reporting. As if the horse in the photo has any idea that the lump on its back might have it taken out behind the shed and shot if it doesn’t perform to standard. Its nervousness, if indeed it is nervous, has nothing to do with human politics. Said SDLM2 might be throwing his weight around and tugging the reins and sending conflicting instructions to his mount. The pair of them might be surrounded by crowds of extremely anxious people worried that the SDLM2 might fall off the horse and be injured. Or look like a fool. Or shoot them along with the horse because he was injured / looked like a fool. That amount of human fear would be enough to make any horse agitated.

However, I’m betting that it’s only the Western media that described the horse as nervous-looking. I’d say that in SDLM2’s own country, the head-tossing steed is probably referred to as ‘spirited’ and ‘noble’. The horse is still a powerful symbol of manliness and authority in many countries, which is no doubt why the message people felt the need to trot one out along with the tanks. For added punch, white/grey horses are an important part of many Asian and European mythologies, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the grey horse in question already has a mystical “backstory” along the lines of it being a once-wild creature that wandered in off the plains and knelt down in obeisance and love before SDLM2.

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