Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Say No to Atrocity Porn

It has been over a week since James Foley was brutally murdered yet you don't need to go far to find a photo of him, clad in orange, in the last few moments of his life. A full and courageous life that ended in the most horrible way imaginable. His murderer, because that is what he is, has even been given a nickname, Jihadi John. It sounds like Postman Pat or Fireman Sam, all soft and fluffy. And don't editors just love alliteration?

Why not just call him what he is; a brutal, morally bankrupt murderer who has now been afforded the 'celebrity' status he failed to achieve as a South London rapper, if the most recent newspaper reports are to be believed. Meanwhile, James Foley is reduced to 'beheaded journalist'  because he is no longer a person but a story, a commodity, as editors and journalists elbow each other out of the way to find another way to string out his tragic death.  Was it staged? Where did it happen? Who cares? I don't. But I care deeply about the death of this man. I care deeply about the emotive language that is used to describe an act of murder. I will not look at the photos. I do not want to see the last moments of anyone's life yet editors and journalists the world over have actually watched the video of his murder,  all in the name of journalism, you understand. That is not journalism, it is voyeurism. How does it make them any better than the sick individuals who actually watched the video before it was taken down? So much for supporting one of your own. And all the while we become more and more inured to scenes of death.

Facebook, Twitter and all social media in between is awash with photos of dead Gazan babies, people with their faces shot away, the aftermath of a suicide bomb. It is Atrocity Porn - and it seems to be addictive. It is all to further whatever particular cause the image relates to, apparently. Maybe so, most likely not. All I can say is I do not want to see it. Every image is of a person, not a casualty, not a body, a person who moments before was living and breathing, who had a family who loved them. These images are out there for anyone to see including those family members.

The British broadcast media thinks nothing of showing graphic photos of death -  with a little rider that some people might find them disturbing or upsetting of course. Damn right I do! So here's an idea. Don't show them. Don't show them on the lunchtime news while children may be watching. Don't even show them on the evening news. Have some respect. Don't show them at all. Is it any wonder that Hollywood now seems to produce films that are woefully short on story but very long on increasingly graphic and creative ways to torture, maim and kill? We see so much real horror on the small screen that they need to really up the ante to grab your attention. What a sad reflection on society.

So I say to editors and journalists everywhere. If this was your father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister would you show these obscene photos of their death? No you would not. So why is it acceptable to show it when it is someone else's family? Why do we need to see these photos? We should all just say no to Atrocity Porn and it starts with you.

Read the original article in  The Huffington Post