Monday, May 16, 2011

The Pornography of Terrorism

So they found pornography at Osma bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. At least they say so. It doesn't really matter if it is true or not. It doesn't really matter if this is a post-mortem information operation going beyond the actual raid in Pakistan or if it is a first hard fact resulting from viewing Osama's flash drives. The message is out there and it is for you to judge its plausibility.

What exactly is pornography? According to entries in Wikipedia, the word derives from the Greek words πόρνη (pornē, „prostitue" and pornea, "prostitution"), and γράφειν (graphein, "to write or to record," derived meaning "illustration," cf. „graph"), thus meaning a written description or illustration of prostitutes or prostitution.

The term pornography in its contemporary meaning was coined by German archeologist Karl Otfried Müller who was looking for a term to describe pieces of art he had discovered during excavations in Pompeji and which he found „obscene“. In Webster's Dictionary of 1864 we thus find the following definition of pornography: licentious painting employed to decorate the walls of rooms sacred to Bacchanalian orgies, examples of which exist in Pompeii.

The look at pornography has changed over time. When thinking about this post, I developed my own definition which goes like this: producing an obscene event with or through very graphic effects for the purpose of people to watch it, to feel lust about it or to be repulsed by it.

And terrorism, the other subject of this post? There have been many attempts to define terrorism, none of which could generate an universal followship. So let me try to bring forward my own version: terrorism, as I see it, is a very violent form of communication which aims to kill people and/or, through the visual effect of the act, to instill a paralyzing fear in the mind of the observers. Obviously, the most radical execution of this concept were the two airplanes crashing into New York's World Trade Center in 2001.

Would it be any surprise then if Osama bin Laden had stashed pornographic material in his home? No, because TERRORSIM IS PORNOGRAPHY! With nobody watching, pornography is regular sexual intercourse. And if no one is watching the results, the devastation and the obscenity of a terror attack, the meaning of terrorism is void and the terrorist's act becomes a dead end in itself.

The mindsets of the people consuming pornography and of those drawn to terrorism are very much related, and so are the mindsets of those chasing pornographers and terrorists. They have to watch a lot of evil to do good. Let's look at the meanwhile legendary picture from the White House situation room during the Osama raid: a group of people, mostly men, have come together to watch an obscene event in the making, the killing of a terrorist. Some might feel lust, some might be shocked. But everybody is on edge, in his or her own world and private thoughts.

on edge: the White House Situation Room

Is it a live broadcast from Pakistan that the people in the situation room are watching? I don't think so, I rather presume the situation room is following the play by play audio comment by CIA director Leon Panetta. According to an article in the New York Post, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was recorded on the helmet cameras of all 25 Navy SEALS that took part in the mission. But the recording was probably done for later exploitation, not for broadcasting it live to the president and his cabinet. Be it like it is: the pictures one draws up in his brain are much stronger, much more cruel than pictures that a director could ever bring to the screen. Alfred Hitchcock knew this and Brian de Palma used this in „Scarface“, in the famous chainsaw killing scene, where Al Pacino's buddy is killed behind a shower curtain, with the viewer making his own pictures when hearing the screams of the victim and seeing the blood splash.

there will be blood: the Scarface Situation Room

And now US senators who have seen pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden say that the images are too gruesome for the general public to see. Too gruesome? Like really gruesome you mean? On hearing this, my brain starts spinning like mad!

In other news this past week, a Brazilian woman has also won the right to watch porn at work: http://bit.ly/koLbPs

2 comments:

  1. Good point ;)

    About the "gruesomeness" of the pictures, I always thought that movies/tv shows/video games got us prepared to see anything gruesome... lol

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  2. An interesting piece. I dont think i agree that terrorism has to be 'visual'. I also don't think that the attack on the WTC is 'the most radical execution of this concept'.

    I think these two sloppy lines let down what is overall an interesting and thought-provoking piece.

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