mr. zilla goes to town

Friday, January 21, 2005

multimedia war

Back in December some friends of mine in DC collected a bunch of money to buy some goodies (an x-box and so on) to support the US troops over in Iraq, raise their morale at Xmas, that kind of thing. As a thank you, the artillery unit the stuff went to (the US Army's 1st Battalion 6th Field Artillery Centaurs) just sent back a video and stills of them conducting urban raid training in a range, and in action in Fallujah in November. It's mostly vanilla: unit photos, men and their machines photos, scowling photos. That is, until in the final 30 seconds, where -- accompanied by some totally rockin' Prodigy, dude -- the take from an overhead observer (UAV?) is matched up with images of the unit working their guns, and you see an artillery round hit two vehicles at a crossroad. The shrapnel from the burst and the exploding vehicles scythes down five people. Then a second round hits the same target area again.

I really wonder why you would include something like this in an otherwise blameless file. Simple pride in your work? Something to stir fond memories about your proficiency down the years? The desire not to sugar coat it for the people back home, ala the White House and the nightly news? Or just a war-torn and brutalized failure of perspective?

Fuck it, I don't care why. Abu Ghraib notwithstanding I thought the snuff films were just for the jihadis. Way to keep the fucking home fires burning.

Continued. I've been otherwise engaged elsewhere for the last few hours which has given me the time to think over whether to upload the damn thing. Despite personal distaste and reservations about hosting something that goremongers might get a cheap thrill out of I've decided to put it up so you can make your own judgement. Right click to download the video here. (35MB).

What pisses me off most is not that such images exist but this particular contextualisation. I could deal with such imagery better if the WMV was a training video of some sort; war is fubar but that doesn't mean its practicioners shouldn't use every tool to learn their job better and stay alive. And despite my attempts to be fair handed its clearly not some kind of crypto anti-war screed. No, this to me is very clearly the happy snaps memorial photo reel of the unit in question. And if they are mailing it to people in the US that says to me they're OK with it being in the public domain.

I'm not saying its some Seymour Hersh style revelation of atrocity unless you consider the whole fucked up business of this war an atrocity - which, by the way, you should. It's just episode 1,409 of the (deadly) horror, the (dehumanizing) horror.

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