This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Critic's Choice : Surpassing Reality TV

"It's horrific, but it's interesting."
"[It has become more] tendentious and shaky [hideous Islamic State propaganda videos]. It was always tendentious, but as time has gone on, it has become less about strict literalism, more about propaganda and PR." 
"It's about the ratings game. You always have to find some new twist. That's why they look more like Hollywood stuff. That's why they look more ridiculous and bizarre ... They've been given a long leash to be creative."
"I think they're becoming -- and I hate to sound like an art critic - somewhat self-indulgent in what they're doing. The sense I get is that they probably get a lot of praise for what they do. What they do has been incredibly successful given the nature of who they are and the very horrible message they're putting out. So the way I see them, these are artists that are coddled, these are artists that are praised, and given a lot of leeway in their choices. But sometimes their technical ability backfires."
"It you look at all of their videos it's horrible to talk about an aesthetic, but you see aesthetic choices that they make, in the way they frame an image, in the way they show a clip. It shouldn't surprise us, you know. Leni Riefenstahl [German Nazi film-maker] made a great movie, right, which is a work of art, and is also a work of perverse propaganda."
Alberto Fernandez, strategic counter-terrorism communications, retired; now with MEMRI
Images from a recent ISIS video shows four Iraqi men who were burned to death.
Handout    Images from a recent ISIS video shows four Iraqi men who were burned to death.
"They constantly have to raise the bar. It's undeniable, the progression in quality of the propaganda videos."
"...But the real reason they get so many eyeballs is because of the content. The content is horrifying. ... Every time it's a shocking new way to execute someone, you get more and more attention, and I think that is at the core of their advertising strategy."
"The stuff I've seen so far, I would never have dreamed of. It's all macabre, and it gets worse and worse."
William McCants, author: The ISIS Apocalypse, Brookings Institution

"To me, I don't see anything artistic in this imagery. Of course, they use theatrical and cinematic technique, but the thing is, when I won in court, we had to prove my work was art ... We had to explain to a jury there is a difference between snuff movies and short cinematic movies."
"They exactly know what they want to show, but I don't see any creativity in this. It looks so staged. If you see that in the movies, you would say, 'Ah, it's so cheesy: It looks too perfect."
Remy Couture, special effects horror movie artist

Well, there's nothing particularly forgivable or admirable through presenting as artistry, about the brutality displayed in the videos produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; they gloat and specialize in horrifying the public by time and again contriving to present new and original methods of butchery. Their grotesque shared sense of murder meant to inspire fear and loathing does succeed.

Yet there is little about their creative efforts to present death in ever-grislier montages that is particularly new, especially in Islam. Where some Islamic countries regularly use beheading, which represents an ancient form of punishment for presumed normative transgressions in the medieval world. It's just that at the present time in history we consider modern humankind to be more progressive in its approach to punishment.

But the slow, deadly creep of Wahhabist Salafism that Saudi Arabia adopted through the collaboration of the House of Saud with the 'pure' Islam of the 18th Century Islamist cleric Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab has permeated the world of Islam today. Saudi Arabia used its vast wealth to install Wahhabist-teaching madrasses all over the world, and the graduates of those madrasses include the terrorists of al-Qaeda and those of Islamic State.

SITE / AP photo
SITE / AP photo    This still image made from video released by Islamic State group militants and posted on the website of the SITE Intelligence Group on Tuesday purportedly shows Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh standing in a cage just before being burned to death by his captors.

Fittingly enough, Saudi Arabia still uses beheading as a form of capital punishment. From the time of the public beheading shown on television of journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 to the beheading of 22 Egyptian farm workers in Libya last year, and the death-by caged-immolation of the captured Jordanian pilot, and the string of dramatized videoed beheadings of humanitarian aid workers and journalists by Islamic State jihadis, these macabre murders simply reflect traditions in Islam.

It is the videos which have become notable in their brutish diverse creativity, geared to elicit the greatest amount of aghast horror and terror from among normal people. Those who have been convinced by recruiters to jihad that these murders represent just punishment for infidels who defy Islamic aspirations and wage global war on Islam are, on the contrary, attracted to and fulfilled by these demonstrations of demonic brutality; Islam 'defending' itself.

Those who defy Islam by refusing to surrender are ripe for slaughter. From Christians to Yazidis, Kurds to Shiites whose brand of Islam is so offensive to the Sunni Islamists, irrespective of the fact that Shiite Islamists are just as anxious to slaughter their Sunni counterparts, given the opportunity. 
ISIL artistry is not above using other creative minds' horror images as their own, as they proved using the image of a woman impaled with a large crucifix stuck in her throat that originated with Quebec makeup artist Remy Couture.

But the darkly creative impulse that motivates Islamic State to shock the world and attract new recruits needs no special assistance from any outside source. The corrosive contempt for human life that they demonstrate is held by them to simply represent a form of entertainment to prospective followers, and a demonstrably useful form of oppressive terror to those who view their goals and their actions as demonic.

Handout  This undated image made from a video released by Islamic State militants, Sunday, April 19, 2015, shows a group of captured Ethiopian Christians taken to a beach before they were killed by Islamic State militants, in Libya.

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