Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Under Mars: A defender writes ...

Further to the Under Mars site - which showcases photographs of dead Iraqis captioned disrespectfully - I received this comment which is worth posting - my reply below:

I'll stay anonymous on this because I fear for the hatchet job you'll try to do on me for daring to disagree with you, but....

You've got to wade through an awful lot of pictures on 'Under Mars' to find even one disrespectful caption. Most are pretty bland, so I'd venture to suggest the site's compiler is simply captioning the pictures as they were captioned to him, possibly by the person who took the picture.

If so, that speaks volumes about the mindset of the photographer, and not necessarily about the mindset of the site owner. A few minutes spent researching before launching a spittle-flecked rant would have shown you that - if nothing else - the site owner/author/compiler can spell. Is he *really* going to spell 'charades' wrong in a caption? While that's hardly conclusive proof, you would have thought someone going for the pithy wit of a 'charades' punchline wouldn't spell it in such a way as to make the critical word almost indecipherable.

'Under Mars' may have disrespectful captions under some of the pictures. Sadly, that's pretty common on the internet - no, really, you should check some other sites out to see. If you didn't agree with the site's premise, why launch into a muddle-headed ad hominem attack on the possible author based on (apparently) chuff-all research.

Do get a grip, Mme Arcati.

Thank you Anonymous. Shannon Larratt, who runs Under Mars, must take full responsibility for the content of his site: I do not think that his mastery of the English language indicates necessarily a good intent. He may simply be well educated. It is also unfortunate in context that Larratt is a hardcore body modification freak: inevitably one is suspicious that his interest in publishing pictures of butchered corpses is bound up in some way with his aesthetic occupation. Perhaps he would do better to reveal himself on the site and explain its purpose.

I do not think that the low standards of the internet - on which any old rubbish can be put up - should be used to measure the offence or otherwise of Under Mars. The site stands alone as offensive. You also ignore the feelings of Iraqis and others and the effect this site may have on them (see the Baghdad Chronicles site): I don't recall seeing any dead Americans or Brits in this gallery of morbidity - not that I wish to - but the point is made.


Anonymous said...

The mutilated corpses are a small part of the huge collection of pics hosted on that site, some of which are gorgeous. I have a few saved on my HD.

The captions under the pics were provided by the photographers. The 'purpose' of the site is explained right on the first page.

Ingrid said...

saw your comment on baghdad chronicles and followed your lead to the story on the appeal to redress and decided to write a post. Thanks for that story, I'll be following it in the news (if it comes out at all) to see what the response and reaction to that will be..

Arcati said...

I should be surprised if there's follow-up in the mainstream media. But the association with "body modification" may make the photos of corpses (of foreigners) "sexy". Most media are run by hormone depleted template-dwellers whose interest must be aroused by "sexiness".

flagrante said...

Are you joking? I mentioned the link between body modification and maimed people as a flippant aside, not as a serious suggestion that the two were linked. Perhaps you have your ears pierced - does this really mean you find pictures of severed ears erotic? Come on.

If you read more of Shannon Larratt's blog, you'd discover that he is intractably opposed to the war in Iraq and the Bush government. Under the circumstances, I think that creating Under Mars is an incredibly fair thing to do - letting the soldiers' pictures and words speak for themselves, rather than editorialise over them. Some of the soldiers reveal themselves to be sympathetic to the horrors of war; others are clearly frat boys in uniform.

The site is therefore a much more representative than you, or indeed anybody, picking a few of the photos out and extrapolating that ALL soldiers are one thing or another.

As for the argument that no-one would show pictures of Westerners in such gory states, have you not seen rotten.com et al? I imagine the soldiers don't post pictures of their dead colleagues because they aren't just anonymous corpses to them like the Iraqis are.

flagrante said...

Also, I don't think anyone who writes an anonymous blog is really entitled to whine that "Shannon Larratt... must take full responsibility for the content of his site".

Anyway, apart from this small fracas, I think you are an excellent and entertaining blogger. Keep it up!

Arcati said...

Dear Flagrante, I suspect you're on some mind-bending substance to account for your curious turnabout on Under Mars.

I couldn't give a toss whether Larratt is for or against the war. I first became interested in Under Mars through the eyes of Baghdad Chronicles. It is plain that whatever motive Larratt has in running Under Mars it is lost on many Iraqis or anyone else who has an imagination.

I'll tell you why you don't find Under Mars offensive: because there's no corpse in the gallery you recognise. No family there, no friends. It would be a very different story if the site felt personal. To many Westerners it seems, Under Mars is no more threatening that the latest Ikea catalogue.

I shall accept your compliment as to my blogging skills nonetheless and view it as evidence that you're not entirely lost.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous again, flattered you quoted my entry in its entirity but disappointed you missed my point altogether. I'll try to clarify - displaying pictures of dead Iraqis complete with the captions appended by the servicemen involved, plainly illustrates the lack of decency on the side of the servicemen.

You seem to have slyly moved your viewpoint from accusing Mr Larratt of writing the captions himself, to just tutting that 'this sort of thing is awful' - which is a start. As one of the previous respondents says - some of the pictures are beautiful. Surely 'Under Mars' is showing a reflection of all the facets of an appalling war, rather than acting as a 'shock' site. If it's intended as a 'shock' site, it's a failure. As a thought-provoking collection of images and a record of the changing views of the war, it's one of the better sites out there. As to the point you make that there aren't any pictures of dead servicemen - it's a very valid point. Don't you think it shows that the servicemen taking pictures out there have a different 'value' on the life of a servicemen to that of an Iraqi? 'Under Mars' only shows the photos that have been submitted to it.

Finally - what is this bewildering link you're trying to establish between body-modification and a taste for gore? Speaking from personal experience, the two don't go hand-in-hand at all.

Arcati said...

I understood your point but don't agree with you. Larratt chooses to put up these obscene pictures: of course the servicemen have written the captions, that's obvious. I never said Larratt himself writes them. His offence is showcasing this rubbish.

It's also interesting that Larratt does not reveal himself on the site or make any anti-war statement - presumably because this would put off his contributors. I don't know if there's a connection with body modification, but why the secrecy? And why publish images of corpses without any clear intent?

Frankly I think you're being naive. But I'm not calling for the site to be banned. I think people should email Larratt and tell him to articulate and think about Iraqi sensibilities.