This image file has been sitting on my desktop for the past couple of months, an orphan from a previous conference Powerpoint presentation, I imagine. It’s a tiny little sticker, about a half-inch in diameter. With Les Misérables due to open in movie theaters tomorrow on Christmas, December 25, 2012, it seemed like a good time to add the sticker to my blog. Pictured is the young Cosette from Victor Hugo’s 1886 first edition of the book. Based on an engraving by the French illustrator Émile Bayard, the image of the girl has been used for decades in all of the major advertising campaigns and publicity for London and Broadway productions.
While Les Mis focuses on class conflict and social and economic injustice, the sticker includes “Axis of Evil,” a phrase coined by George W. Bush in 2002 in his annual State of the Union address, a few months after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Sometimes, stickers like these can be difficult to figure out. As I began doing research, I just figured it was from New York City. Part way through, though, I checked my files and found that the sticker came from Berlin in 2006, which sort of changed everything.