March 1, 2015
The Middle East Eye has published an article co-written by Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies and Middle East Studies. The column, “IS Barbarity and Execution Movies,” analyzes the public reaction to barbarity, in a discussion of IS execution videos and Hollywood productions like American Sniper.
Even though we do not watch Islamic State (IS) execution movies, we continue to think about the frightened victims and cold executioners, about the callous people choreographing, shooting and editing the films, and about the tormented families of those who have been brutally murdered. IS, it is known, produces the execution clips and distributes them on YouTube and other forms of social media to terrorise certain populations and to recruit and mobilise others. The grotesquely choreographed murder makes the execution into a spectacle and its widespread dissemination becomes a political weapon.
This propaganda device demands self-reflection. Why are we appalled by the “barbarity of the uncivilised,” but unconcerned about the “barbarity of the civilised?” How, in other words, do we shape our conceptions of barbarity and what are the political implications of this process?