Welcome to the Pleasuredome: the pornography of war

Naked bodies, smiling soldiers, sexual humiliation and the random slaughter of civilians, all in the name of freedom and liberty. Now, where have we seen this before?

The recent deluge of photographs and video footage emerging from occupied Iraq, showing images of American servicemen and women torturing, beating and abusing Iraqi prisoners have sent shockwaves of horror around the world, drawing universal condemnation from any right thinking person.
And yet, none of this should surprise us in the least. War, as has been frequently stated, is hell. Indeed, it’s such an overworked phrase that we almost think of it as cliche. This war was supposed to be about the liberation of civilians. On the contrary, we are seeing first hand the enslavement of an entire people. There seems to be precious little liberation going on. Well, at least aside from liberating innocent civilians from their limbs and lives…
War is terrorism on a bigger budget. It is murder. It involves death, blood, carnage and dead bodies. It always has. And it always will. That, no matter what criminals such as Bush and Blair tell us, will always be the way of war. There is nothing much new in this. All wars, no matter where they take place have borne witness to such barbarity.
But now, we can watch it almost as it happens.
What makes our age different from those before, is that we live in a time of hyper-communication, where any incident, no matter how small, no matter how trivial it may seem, can be reported to a substantial bulk of the human population with a speed that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago.
Previously, such fast-moving reportage was the preserve of Fleet Street hacks: think of the British Tabloids having Hugh Grant’s mugshots less than 16 hours after getting busted. But now, in the last two weeks we, the horrified and impotent masses have been treated to images of Iraqi civilians being forced to pose naked in heaps of bodies, their postures immediately calling to mind the piles of bodies from concentration camps.
We have seen images of prisoners forced to masturbate on each other, covered in shit, being beaten and lying dead on the floor whilst American soldiers stand smiling and giving thumbs up signs. We have also seen Iraqi standing, arms outstrectched, heads bagged with what looks like electrodes strapped to their skin, dogs barking in their faces and being walked like dogs on leashes.
However, for some reason which I find exceptionally difficult to articulate, the images which have disturbed me the most have been those involving the forced sexual humiliation of Iraqi men and women whilst Americans stand by laughing and taking snaps for the boys back home. I am truly at a loss to describe how I feel when I see images of Iraqis forced into human pyramids, standing naked and being forced to masturbate for amusement.
It’s time for us, the International community to get off the fence and start calling this as it is. These are crimes against humanity. This is rape. Not just of the body, but of dignity. The rape of the beaten, the humiliated and the broken. This is Caesar watching prisoners of war being eviscerated and slaughtered in the new digital Colloseum. This is the Christians being fed to the lions.
Just as the Romans displayed the defeated enemies of the Empire before the baying masses, America now watches as suspected ‘terrorists’ are paraded in defeat and despair before the conquering armies of freedom. Welcome to the Pleasuredome.
This isn’t America. At least not the America that I think I know. This is 1940’s Germany. This is the Joy Division. This is humanity at it’s sickest: the military-industrial complex run rampant across the globe, burning, looting and ransacking as it pleases.
This is the rape of a nation, of it’s people, of it’s resources, of it’s oil, of it’s future. The Governments of the United States of America (which was never technically elected), and Great Britain have carried out an illegal war, chasing non-existent weapons, using bogus security reports to frighten us, and steam rolling the will of the vast majority of human citizens.
Not to mention what has been done to America itself. I can’t understand why it is that every single American I meet, without exception, is appalled at these acts and President Bush in general, yet opinion polls tell us that he will be elected again.
Let’s get real shall we?
A new pornography is rising. Naked women and men are paraded before us on television and the internet, their broken, feeble, naked bodies so ghastly we can barely look. Add to that the almost snuff-like quality of the Nick Berg video and it is becoming clear that something is very, very, very wrong with our societies.
The almost live, globally-observed sexual humiliation of prisoners of war, represents a watershed in human society: pornography and rape as entertainment. And tomorrow morning Bush will still be the President of the United States.
Iraqis are being killed whilst they attend weddings. Their dead bodies constitute the staple diet of our News shows. Their blood, unlike their oil, is worthless except to provide a shocking image for our consumption.
It’s time to say it: the behaviour of the Bush Administration is becoming Nazi-like.

Damien DeBarra was born in the late 20th century and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He now lives in London, England where he shares a house with four laptops, three bikes and a large collection of chairs.


  1. I agree too much. Sick, foul stuff. But what can we “Democratic” citezens do against a rag-tag band of millionares currently squatting in the White House? I don’t know. Where is Ghandi These days….

  2. LTempleton,
    Thanks for your comments. A pleasure to read.
    There is actually quite a substantial objection within Ireland to the Bush visit. So much so in fact, that the Government has made sure to keep him at least three miles from the nearest protester behind miles of barricades and the Irish Police, who last time I checked were paid to protect the Irish citizenry. Instead they shall spend the visit of the President of the United States fighting back Irish citizens.
    Compare this to the near euphoria that greeted President Clinton when he went to Ireland. Yes, it required a huge security operation, but the Gardai were not concerned with baton charging Irish teenagers that day. That happened about a year ago.
    Sadly, Freedom of Speech is being limited in Ireland too.

  3. That’s too easy to answer. The Religious Right in America have a whole list of ‘who Jesus would bomb’. Several prominent members of evangelical churches and orginizations have regulary called for the eradication of Islam, on the grounds that Jesus wouldn’t like it and that it’s ‘un-christian’ (well, duuuuuuuh!). they have advocated taking the vote away from women, making public protests against the government illegal and replacing science in schools with creationism. Looking at Dubyah’s political base, it’s easy to see what’s wrong.

  4. Excellent article. Not enough of this is being said. Those of you interested have a look at article in the Guardian Monday 24th May by the hard hitting Susan Sontag. Everybody needs to speak up. If everybody did, what a differance it would make. I’m in Dublin, Ireland and I can assure you, myself and mates are willing to travel to Ballybushthuggery, if we have to, to let the real terrorist know how he is not wanted on our soil… Bertie or no Bertie. The irish people in general will protest, regardless of his pleas for us to not do it. It has only made us more determined….what’s that God awful smell in the Dail?
    Why…why…I do believe it’s the smell of money…

  5. Didn`t Rumsfeld tell us just the same soppy “This is not America”-bullshit ? The only proper response would be to say: Yes, it IS.

  6. Hey. Tomorrow’s the big day, huh? George Bush and his boys are on the way.
    So, anything shakin’ at Parnell Square tomorrow? Or out Shannon’s way?
    Over here we got Michael Moore’s Farenheit 911 hitting the theatres. John Kerry’s in town talking to Service Employees International Union convention. Bill Clinton’s showing up on Monday to sign his blockbuster book and people are already camping out by the bookstore. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Supreme Court has decided in favor of Dick Cheney by refusing to order the Bush administration to make public secret details of Cheney’s energy task force meetings of 2001.
    Check http://www.imdb.com for great review of Farenheit 9/11
    http://www.bookpassage.com/ for Clinton
    http://www.sfgate.com for Kerry and Cheney stories.

  7. I’m waiting for the day bush goes on trail. Just like Saddam – who is having himself a ball in court. “It’s all theater” he said. Quite. America have allways bursted into countrys and left them in political and economical tears and have never been punished because (I think) they are viewed as more civilized than middle eastern countrys and they have “good reasons to”. They have never been given jail scentences, fines, or something like the treaty of versaille (spelling?). The belingering git will probably live on a lovely pension for the rest of his life playing golf.

Comments are closed.