Curiosity is a funny thing, and sometimes breaking the taboo verbally, by merely suggesting it, leaves us all astounded, uncomfortable, and immobilized for a short amount of time. In that daze, nothing changes, but the opportunists and innovators find ways to profit by the new zeitgeist. At just about the time the public thinks that the verbally-broken taboo has gone away, the work of these opportunists and innovators surfaces and gives us a tangible artifact that the way we knew, whose existence had effectively been banished by the mere thought of the world with this change, will not be coming back.
Doubtless someone said this when the MP3 compression produced a small music file: “Hey, we could move songs over the internet in an acceptable time length over consumer-grade broadboand” I don’t doubt that those who were paying attention to this algorithm then faltered: “You mean, we could write software to move music about for free?” And then, a breath later: “we could destroy (or save the recording industry as we know it.”
Other examples are innovation, radio, television, the destruction of the newspaper, etc.
With these models in mind, it’s with some trepidation that I consider the case of [WARNING: GRUESOME FOOTAGE] Neda, the brave Iranian woman who, during a protest, appears to have been killed…on film. The legend of the snuff film is nothing new, but there’s something about the immediacy and the ubiquity of a this woman’s cruel fate that scares and awes me.
Here we are in the breathless moment I mentioned above: “Are we going to live in a world where we, and thanks to the Internet I do me all of us, see death - live?” Will this serve as that first drop of blood to our inner Audrey IIs that teaches spectator bloodlust to our culture as once belonged to the Romans and Aztecs of yore?
Don’t feed the plant
How would our world change. Perhaps with such spectator-grade gore there would be learning experiences from showing the charred bodies of those killed in combat. We would understand the horror of battle more clearly. And perhaps, too, seeing the bodies of the fallen we would better understand the incredible practice made pro patriam.
But the world we live in is not one of gravitas, a BBC world. We live in a world of fluffier stuff, and I can see a world, the ravenous chasm of which we now stand before, in which spectator bloodlust becomes blood entertainment.
If you have the stomach for the clip, you can feel it there, that adrenal cortex response as the danger grows great to the woman. As she crumples. Your animal circuits rage to run, or to fight but your cerebrum calms you down and understands it’s “just footage.” Nevertheless, the jolt was there, was real, and was vaguely stimulating in your life of Jon and Kate, of Paris Hilton, of church and taxes. It was a pituitary hypodermic straight to your “stay alive” center. Suddenly that pagan eros shoots up, the world is brighter, you feel sexier, and all those secondary adrenal responses fire reminding you to live and spread gametes.
And just like the porn genie that the internet let loose, I wonder what happens when they (probably some of those self-same entrepreneurs as they already have a taste for “extreme” entertainment) start collating blood-footage and giving it away in 30-second teaser doses for $30/month fees. Will they turn to a generation raised on mixed martial arts, war, and social dissociation to provide the willing fodder for the burgeoning market?
Mortituri nos delectabunt