Thursday, June 01, 2006

Terrorist Porn


The exploitive nature of sexual pornography derives from the devaluation of the individual into the sexual signs of their body. Pornography in itself is not sexy, it merely represents the abstraction of sexy sex in the form of signifiers; big breasts, erect cock, open mouth, spread legs.
Thus a pornography is an exploitation of the semiotic range. In this sense we can apply pornography to any set of faceless representative symbols.
Consider, as a new sub-set, Terrorist Porn. The practioners of this new visual language are the terrorist themselves. Identities obscured in scarves and ski masks, the terrorists submit themselves to the symbolic range. In the case of the suicide bomber the submission is complete; they are their cause.
Like sexual pornographers, terrorist pornographers have found a formula for visually representing their goals. Islamic terrorists are currently its most adept practioners. The way in which Islamic terrorist costume has become fetishisized to the point of fascism is symptomatic of the way in which they have secured their signs.
It is a not unlike the fascism of the blond with big tits in the realm of sexual pornography.
Masking their individuality in the symbols and banners of their cause, terrorists carry out real acts whose true value is nonetheless redeemed in the visual communication of those acts (unless, of course, you are the hapless victim). September 11th was quite possibly the most pornographic moment in history. It does not merit this distinction by body count, but by its harnessing of the potency of symbols; the towers as symbols of aggressive U.S. capitalist imperialism, the terrorists themselves as fearless death squad.
The surplus of images around the towers, like the archetype of fireman as hero, also engaged in this gross pornography of signification. Terrorism is not the act of brutality itself, but the terror it inspires. Terrorism, or more appropriately Terrorist Porn, is dependent on the quality and execution of the appropriate terror invoking symbols. It is also dependent, in no small part, on the media's distributive participation. After all, sex would just be sex if we did not have the internet sites, magazines, and movies to turn it into pornography. Likewise with terrorism.
If you question this logic, think back to the recently published photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners in the Daily Mirror. In fact, the photographs were staged to represent real acts that had happened.
Despite being fakes, by way of their publication, the photos were able to redeem the original terror simply by signifying it, a post-modern gesture if ever there was one. We see that radical Islamists are not the only Terrorist Pornographers on the market.

Delaney Martin

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