Monday, June 21, 2010

War porn: The in-thing?

This story began 8 years ago with an enterprising American, Christopher Wilson. In 2002, Wilson ran an amateur porn site called nowthatsfuckedup.com (now known in short as NTFU). This was a time when many U.S soldiers overseas were not in a position to use their credit cards. Reasons varied. Anyway, Wilson, the true American that he was, decided he would do his part for his nation’s soldiers. Therefore, NTFU’s contents were made free to anyone who could prove they were in uniform. The first proofs that came in were innocent photos of gregarious soldiers. Photos like these:




Slowly, they evolved or devolved, depending on perspective as chummy pics gradually gave way to videos and snaps of corpses and brutality. (The pics given below are exceedingly graphic in nature and viewer discretion is advised.Only two shown and rest in links)


A soldier with a burnt Iraqi arm


http://img2.scoop.co.nz/stories/images/0509/9b857004cea9441bc7c9.jpeg



http://miami.media.indypgh.org/uploads/2006/01/graphic_death.jpg
http://www.bilerico.com/uploaded_images/Lynndie_England_naked_PW-795754.jpg
http://www.sunflower.com/~420/aug/ntfu.jpg

Personally, I am not very religious. However, I will still remark at this point that I doubt if there was a single god-fearing bone in the people who sent these photos when all that was asked was a frugal proof of the uniform.
Wilson, entrepreneur that he was, tried to cash in with a special ‘bodies for porn’ section. DING DONG. Death bells rang for NTFU when in 2004 the state of Florida stepped in filing obscenity charges, ending Wilson’s chicken count. A 5 year ban was stamped on Christopher Wilson (NTFU now has the Polk County Sheriff’s pic on the homepage, which the female readers may check out for a turn-on….lol!!). However, the ban failed to clog the flow of such media into the World Wide Web.
Move over NTFU, hello gotwarporn.com. GWP fills itself with videos from sites like Liveleak and Wikileaks. With a tagline that reads ‘Combating cyber-jihad one video at a time’, GWP leaves no doubts about where its loyalties are. A fact reinforced by a count of Islamic terror acts on the top left of its homepage. GWP is, undoubtedly, the place to be for war porn on the Internet. Along with separate sections based on the type of weapons used in the video, GWP also has a section named ‘Bodies’ which feature compiled footage of civilians(supposedly ‘insurgents’) set to the tune of numbers like ‘Bodies’ by Drowning River and "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine. ‘Bodies’ has, incidentally become the unofficial anthem for such saucy, savage works.
In the words of a California Prof., the 1st YouTube war is descending on us and the weapons seem almost as inhuman as the mines and grenades that took the lives of thousands in the past century. The artillery dept. for this war is the G.I Joes plunked in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bloody, gory and sadistic images of mangled bodies and tortured souls plus videos that inimitably showcase the U.S soldier’s conscience (or lack of it) pervade the World Wide Web today.
War Porn! There couldn’t be a more fitting name. The conventional porn video typically ends in orgasmic bliss. Some ‘War Porn’ videos end with a different sort of orgasm- a visually denting one where men flitting on a camera frame turn corpses.
The trend, fueled by more than just a few ‘bad apple’ soldiers, however, is not an unheard of sacrilege on human life. Au contraire, it is a modern-day analogue of what history has witnessed time and again. The aborigine hangs his rival tribe’s heads on poles. He adorns his face with more and more stripes as his kills go up. Ancient kings and even the British Raj let rebel bodies hang from peepal trees. There is an all too obvious thread that ties all these together-the underlying emotions. A proud, or in cases an arrogant display of power. Gone are skulls and the peepal tree stories of yore. What remains can aptly be titled a vestige of our ancestor’s inherent bestiality. However, in a smaller world, these vestiges have a far more protracted and widespread effect than ever before.
The more relevant question perhaps, has to be about the psyche of the audience. Take for instance, the notable video ‘Collateral Murder’ from Wikileaks. With over 6 million views on YouTube, such videos show the world how life is treated in the face of war. It shows how jarringly disturbing the events that make up a war is. However, such videos are few and far apart. Most videos are plain disgusting from the normal standards of humanity. The global junta continues to lap up the fare with a multitude of reasons. Maybe, people are so bored of watching those never-ending soaps whose reels, if placed end to end, might build a bridge to the moon. Maybe, they yearn for a truly ‘authentic’ viewing experience………… Be it entertainment, information, a celebration of technology, a rebellious expression, a firm punch at global ‘jihadi terror’ or a plain graphic, gory treat, the viewer can never run out of reasons. The fact is, it is all that at different levels. Moreover, it is a novelty and everybody likes novelties, right? The blogger would like to use a clich├ęd word - schadenfreude. It is to be observed that amusement shouldn't come at the cost of emotions like empathy and compassion, which set us apart from the beast.

Comments are always welcome

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blown away by Hayek & Keynes

Watched a cool documentary today called ‘Commanding Heights: Ideas’. Totally blown away by it.
It was about how economic systems failed and succeeded in the past century. John Maynard Keynes’ ideas were revered and followed during the first half of the century when Socialism and Communism were the new hopes that would ‘lift the world out of its flaws and faults’. However, the ideas were replaced by ideas of free market towards the last part of the 20th century when Reagan and Thatcher pulled their respective nation’s economies out of doldrums by borrowing ideas from Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’.
I believe that Hayek’s ideas were never recognized when they were 1st propounded because there was little for the governments to do. Keynes was of the view that the govt. had an appreciable role to play in the smooth running of a market. Increase expenditure in troubled times and decrease during good times. Hayak, on the other hand, believed in a system with minimal or nil governmental interference. Politicians are better off explaining that they did something (Keynes way) rather than leave things to themselves.
The one question they did leave unanswered was: Why did Keynes’ ideas help U.S.A get out of a bad state after WW1 but not give results when Jimmy Carter tried similar things(like increasing expenditure)? Food for thought.
Also watched ‘Date Night’ before it. Enjoyed it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ALL THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN

I recently had the good fortune to watch “All the invisible children”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_invisible_children) , a collection of short films about the life of children from various parts of the world. The movie was one that gave me a lot of perspective on how life differs from place to place and yet remain the same in many aspects. My take on a few of them…..

TANZA

The first of the shorts, Tanza is a tiny tale about a boy named Tanza. Set in war-torn Africa, the short is filled with those images that are probably the worst emanating out of Africa after that of its Kwashiorkor struck younglings- of young, impressionable children wielding AK-47s. An image at once as acutely comic as a duck tottering about with a dumbbell in its beak and as eerily uncomfortable as……………….. well, an innocent ignorant boy with violence stamped on his soul. An age where kids somewhere else fall in love with numbers: an age where Pappy’s shoulders become the throne from which we own the whole, big world; an age where the nicest daydreams deal with tanks of melting chocolate and towers built of cakes and ice-cream; vulturously clawed away by the talons of war. The film brings upthe most debilitating blow that fates delivers – the utter helplessness of these young ones to gain a normal education. The director Mehdi Charef brilliantly brings this vision of a futile dream in the closing frames of the film.

BLUE GYPSY

What the viewer takes away as souvenirs for watching Blue Gypsy must be the delightful music and memories of the unassuming charm of the round-eyed protagonist. The narrative of a boy’s departure from a correction house and his subsequent return is surprisingly warm and mirthful. Dotted with comic relief throughout, the film is, hands down, the happiest of all the shorts I saw. A loving mother, a true to blood gypsy dad and a hilarious warden seem like characters pulled out of a fairy tale. Emir Kusturica gifts a short that will leave your heart enlivened.

JESUS CHILDREN OF AMERICA

A one word description for this short might be- real. If another word were to be allowed, that would be ‘global’. It is a gripping story of the apathies that society subjects AIDS victims to. What makes this short rise above run-of-the-mill representations of the issue is the simplicity that makes the characters remarkably believable. Hence, the adjective ‘real’ is implied.

JONATHAN

The reason I went to the trouble of downloading this movie was for this short. (urs truly being a Ridley fan). A story of an adult war photographer’s delusion that takes to children surrounded by war. Nothing was particularly wrong but still a disappointment. Only particular thing I remember being the closing quote ‘Friendship multiplies the good things in life and divides the evil’

BILU E JOAO

The director’s skill has to be lauded for making a common day of rag picking for 2 kids into an entertaining short. Streaks of brilliance are visible when he draws comparisons between a F1 video game and a cart- a credible delve into what could be the protagonist’s mind. A story about 2 kids and how they salvage cardboards, cans et al to sell at a junkyard. The short follows them on their riveting little adventures for the span of a day. One thing that will stay long in my mind will be the ingenious hand footer board the kids make.

Monday, June 14, 2010