Stars and Stripes

Stars and stripes have represented the united states in many different media forms. Sometimes being portrayed as a positive symbol provoking patriotism, while other times being used as a negative symbol to show other perspectives on America’s actions. The examples I picked that depict this trope show how different forms of media and locations portrayed the stars and stripes.

Trope 1: 1991 Superman comic book cover by Jerry Ordway at DC comics. The comic is about the United States government reaching out to superman in order to take down a foreign dictator. The stars and stripes cover the entire background of the cover behind Superman. In this composition, he is saluting potentially to the flag representing him having respect for America similar to how an American soldier would. This is probably hinting at the fact that he may be supporting America throughout this comic. Superman by himself is a symbol of strength and heroism which with the combination of the flag and superman portrays that America is strong, heroic, and respectful. To fully understand this cover, you would have to understand the meaning of saluting as well as have general information about superman and his abilities. 

Trope 2: This is a 2004 Time magazine cover meant to represent how easy it is to get into America. The flag in this cover symbolically represents America as a whole so the addition of the hands ripping the flag apart leads the reader to see that someone is breaking into the country. This leads the reader to see America’s weakness in the image. The sky being placed in the opening hints that inside the united states it is bright and sunny, which in itself represents purity. The interpretation of this composition could change depending on what image is in the opening. For example, if there was a fire or broken down buildings it could change the meaning of the poster to someone showing that America is broken on the inside. To understand this poster further the viewer must know more about the event of 9/11 as they wouldn’t understand why that date is significant to someone sneaking into the country. There are hints at the negativity in the composition because it is usually seen as highly incorrect to desecrate an American flag so it makes the overall message more shocking to people that live in America compared to people from other countries.

Trope 3: This is a North Korean propaganda poster from the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities. The stars and stripes in this example do represent America still but this time it is torn apart and slightly desaturated. This alongside the banners of protest and the strong/vibrant person ripping the flag makes the viewer see the flag almost as a representation of tyranny. There are also people in the background of the image seen fighting and rallying. This poster is very location-dependent not just because of the Korean language but because of its very centralized view of America compared to other places in the world. The audience also has to know the tension between America and North Korea over the years. We don’t know the exact context to which this poster was placed because of that country being so locked down, but it could be placed in areas where there is a lot of United States involvement which would try and instigate more protest to their involvement in Korea.



Infinite, Dc Universe. DC Universe Infinite. 

Rhp. Violent Pictures of North Korean Anti-American Propaganda ART, 1950-1970. 15 Apr. 2020, 

TIME Magazine Cover: America’s Border – Sep. 20, 2004.,16641,20040920,00.html.

Discussion — One Response

  • Jack Craig 03/10/2021 on 7:13 PM

    It’s amazing to see how a singular symbol can be interpreted in different perspectives. Arguably the Stars and Stripes of the United States flag represents freedom and strength for many people as the comic cover reinforces, but to North Koreans the flag represents an enemy of the government and people. I honestly wonder if any other countries flag design carries such a striking association as the U.S.’s

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