May 4, 2011

Life The Movie: The Death of Bin Laden

There is a strong desire to see the photo of Osama Bin Laden with half of his head gone for a variety of reasons. Some people need to see to have some type of closure for for loved one lost. Other's need to believe the whole thing isn't some part of government conspiracy. And while there may be others that I missed, there is definitely a large amount of people who need to see it in order to process the full scope of the massive historical event.

We are living in a 24/7 visual society. Every news event now is captured on camera and dispersed on the internet. Most recently when the Earthquake/Tsunami struck Japan the world watched it in real time on everything from broadcast networks to the user uploaded youtube videos. In this decade any news event be it a natural disaster, a civil uprising in the Middle East, or even just a famous person's life are available to anybody with an internet connection. But this situation with the death of Bin Laden is different, the lack of visual footage is not clicking with our 21st century brains and people are trouble "believing" what happened solely because it's not accesible to them.

And there is no bigger source of accesible modern war imagery than popular video games. One must only look at the recent army ads and video games made by the army that merge between video game life and army life to see this.  It's no surprise then that a new game titled "Kuma\ War: The Death of Osama Bin Laden" from developer Kuma Game comes out this weekend. In response to criticism regarding his previous games ripped from real life events, Kuma Games CEO Keith Halper said:
"We hope that by telling their stories with such a powerful medium that we enable the American public to gain a better appreciation of the conflicts and the dangers they face." 
There is a fine line here between appreciating our military men and women and wanting to play out their lives in a virtual world. Releasing the photo may help people heal, but it will also just be a part of a society that craves visual verification without any consequence. One can look at the already huge internet memes (aka borderline mockeries) that have already popped up regarding Osama's death to see how today's military actions are tomorrow's joke tweet/facebook post. Our desire for verification for our hard wired media brains is a very slippery slope towards making war and violence have no consequence at all. And that is a dangerous thing indeed.

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