digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

War Porn

What is it, and what does it say about us?
P.W. Singer is the author of Wired for War and an expert in military technology.

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WHEN DOES WAR BECOME PORNOGRAPHY?

In 2004, the French social theorist Jean Baudrillard published an essay called "War Porn" in which he focused on how the explicit images of the war in Iraq borrowed from the aesthetics and production values of modern pornography. Since then, the term "war porn" has been used widely to describe the huge amounts of garish video material and photographs that emanate from wars fought in the digital age.

When does an image of war become pornographic? British journalist James Harkin wrote, "War porn is designed not to titillate, but to humiliate its victims and horrify its audience. Like pornography, its producers heighten their sense of reality by videoing themselves in the act, while its audience does the same by ogling the videos." Most people who commented on his article were offended by his definition. One poster wrote, "We have to see [to] understand." What do you think?

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posted February 2, 2010

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