Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
July 8, 2013

Thoughts on the Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Gitmo-"Inspired" Force-Feeding Video

I was wondering what you thought about this video illustrating the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the release timed for the start of Ramadan? (Note: it comes with a warning for disturbance.)

I know I came down pretty hard on Eugene Richards and Lightbox last month for the images he did and didn’t get in Cuba in early April. In that same post, I also did some venting about the (similar) propaganda images the military recently circulated attempting to normalize this procedure. Regarding the Mos Def video, I do have some reservations about the shot of the shoes and the bling, making me wonder the rest of the way how much Bey’s reaction to the force-feeding might have been somewhat affected versus “straight documentary.” That’s a minor quibble, however, in comparison to the gaping media blackout surrounding any visceral, and certainly any visual reference to the invasiveness and brutality of these interventions. (Perhaps the best element of the piece was actually the frame near the end informing us how these happy meals eat up about two hours each.)

Of course, buzz arises whenever a particular photo or set of photos with blowback potential make the news — most typically these days, involving their suppression. What we are hardly mindful of, on the other hand, is the ongoing obscuring or the outright censorship of imagery when an issue of conscience is ongoing. (video: Asif Kapadia via YouTube)

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