November 14, 2003

Jessica Lynch, Hot Property
Girl Gone Wild?

by Anthony Gancarski

So this is what happens when we send women to war. Larry Flynt, also-ran candidate for California's Governorship and publisher of artsy photos, isn't going to run nude photos of Private Lynch after all. Flynt claimed to have bought the photos last month from the men [note the plural here] who purportedly participated in the amateur shoot with the undressed Army supply clerk. The soldiers "wanted to let it be known that she's not all apple pie." Flynt demurred from publishing the snaps of our little "Joan of Arc", saying that Lynch was nothing so much as a "pawn for the government."

Does that mean Flynt will never publish said photos? Bite your tongue! My suspicion is that Flynt lies in wait for the perfect opportunity to publish the photos. He just needs to find a good hook, a marketing angle so brassy and bold it could only be called American.

For starters, why not release a DVD? Have Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, and Rick Bragg [three men who are no strangers to the vagaries of narrative] commentate over the snapshots, lending their unique perspectives as men who have scaled the heights of journalism's most imposing mountains. We all know what those men can do when faced with deadlines, and imagine that triumvirate turned toward the comely form of Palestine's favorite soldier.

Bragg, after all, spent the last four months penning Ms. Lynch's story [I Am a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story], as Betsy Hart notes at NRO, and is no stranger to what the pros call money quotes. "Jessi had given the people of the mountains something that they had never had before. They had always had faith, they had always believed in miracles, and they had prayed for them over their lifetimes. They had never demanded proof, because faith is what you have when there is no proof, no logic, no reason. Faith is what sustained the people here through the crib deaths and highway crashes and cancer wards."

Boy howdy! Bragg came by such purple prose honestly, at least; it was his ticket into the elite circle of "southern writers" you see on C-Span sometimes [who seem to exist to reassure Yankees and carpetbaggers that not everyone in the south totes shotguns in their trucks to shoot varmints or bows five times a day in the direction of the Confederate flag]. In All Over But the Shoutin', Bragg describes his hometown Piedmont, Alabama as "a place where grandmothers hold babies on their laps under the stars and whisper in their ears that the lights in the sky are holes in the floor of heaven. This is a place where the song 'Jesus Loves Me' has rocked generations to sleep, and heaven is not a concept, but a destination." Aw shucks! Holes in the floor of heaven? Good thing they don't read this garbage to the prisoners at Gitmo, or else the human rights advocates would have an airtight case: a couple hundred pages of prose like that embodies the idea of cruel and unusual punishment.

Imagine what Bragg could do with shots of Jessica and the boys cavorting. Not having seen the snaps, I don't want to speculate too much into what the pics contain. But I could see them eliciting "even as the third – or was it fourth or fifth – exposed himself to Jessi, she understood the harsh truth of the camera eye, how it exposed things, unspeakable things, those hardscrabble days in West Virginia, the humiliations and transgressions, spelling in fourth grade, boxes draped with flags. Biscuits and gravy. Biscuits. Delbert McClinton on a jukebox far away."

Perhaps I'm too cynical. Perhaps I should buy into this mythology. After all, Larry Flynt made his peace with [or piece from] the war machine. But one can only imagine what inducements led the veteran pornographer away from cashing in on these salacious snapshots. If those inducements fall through, this column expects that those shots will surface, sooner or later, in ways that bring shame not just to Private Lynch but to the war machine that deems it necessary to recruit young women from one-horse towns to fill uniforms on foreign soil. Given the intellectual and moral prostitution that has led us to this sorry impasse in the War on Terror, it is perhaps fitting that a pornographer of global repute has this hold card, this leverage over both Washington and the media machine that gave Private Lynch her current mythic status.

~ Anthony Gancarski

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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