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Ain’t that Snuff Enough?

It’s been a while and I thought I’d throw a few ideas out there and see if anything sticks. Sometime in 2007 while watching a CNN report on Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever there was a visual image of several burned bodies, evidently the aftermath of a drone strike and then it hit me, hard and real, that what I was watching was not the news but some great national, ongoing snuff film.

Rumours of snuff films, that is a movie where a real murder is filmed and marketed to interested parties for the express purpose of commercial gain, have been rife since the 70’s. Low budget filmmakers in the US of course noticed the  interest and the movie Snuff was released in 1976. Originally titled Slaughter and filmed in Argentina by Michael and Roberta Findlay it was based loosely on the Manson Family murders but unable to find distribution it sat in a can for several years. Enter Allen Shackleton from Monarch Distribution, a master at marketing bad films who shot a short 10 minute ending to the film purporting to show the film crew kill and dismember a woman on the set. He then distributed the film to all the negative publicity he could garner including the tag line, “Shot in South America where Life is CHEAP!” He also paid women to picket the theaters where the film played to whip up interest and community standard fury. It all worked of course and the film raked in the cash. But that’s the phony snuff story, the cheap Hollywood version…what about the real thing?

So what about war coverage as snuff? Is there any resonance between CNN’s reportage on Afghanistan and Iraq and snuff film. Of course there is–both are grounded in a desire to generate profits, in one case theater receipts and the other is about making sure that the US military get the hundreds of billions of dollars that their budgets seem to demand. Is there any difference in shamelessness between the two? Damned little. We know that while the Findlay/Shackleton axis was

 

One comment

  1. Jennifer Bedle says:

    The real conundrum is not the display of violence as much as how it is presented. As in all things it is a two-edged sword.

    From: http://www.hfg.org/hfg_review/4/dentan.htm

    The Pornography of Violence

    [This is] the central dilemma of all efforts at witnessing. In the midst of a massacre, in the face of torture, in the eye of a hurricane, in the aftermath of an earthquake, or even, say, when horror looms apparently more gently in memories that won’t recede and so come pouring forth in the late-night quiet of a kitchen. . . . do you the observer, stay behind the lens of the camera, switch on the tape recorder, keep pen in hand? Are there limits—of respect, piety, pathos—that should not be crossed, even to leave a record? But if you can’t stop the horror, shouldn’t you at least document it? (Behar 1996:2)

    I don’t know much about pornography but I do watch the news, so I have a clue. (Cain 1999:1)