I can’t help but compare the aesthetics and insanity of the superbly hyped Subservient Chicken with many of the photos taken at Abu Ghraib. Milliions of people have recently “discovered” the Burger King-sponsored site, which allows visitors to control, punish, or humiliate a person in a chicken suit. By typing in commands within the site, the chicken-man abides, slowly, deliberately, and reluctantly. The photos taken at the infamous Abu Ghraib seem to show the same basic disregard for life, the same lack of shame, and the same power-wielding effect on how others are seen and can be seen.
(Susan Sontag recently wrote about the photos in the Times’ Magazine but her argument is more political than it is philosophical; it is also less interesting than it could be because of this. While she does talk about the photographs of torture and sex in the context of contemporary pornography, she somehow loses track of the “artistry” of these photographs and what the aesthetic of humiliation means to all of us.)

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