Article published in:The Soft Power of War: Legitimacy and community in Iraq war discourses
Edited by Lilie Chouliaraki
[Journal of Language and Politics 4:1] 2005
► pp. 143–159
On the television footage of the Iraq war
This article argues that the BBC World footage of the bombardment of Baghdad, March–April 2003, manages to take sides in the controversy over the Iraq war, without violating the principle of objectivity — a principle necessary for the credibility of public service broadcasting. Making use of the ‘analytics of mediation’, I show that the semiotic choices of this footage construe the bombardment of Baghdad in a regime of pity, whereby the aesthetic quality of the spectacle effaces the presence of Iraqi people as human beings and sidelines the question of the coalition troops identity either as benefactors or bombers. This combination is instrumental in aestheticising the horror of war at the expense of raising issues around the legitimacy and effects of the war.The taking of sides in the BBC ‘update’ occurs precisely through this aestheticised representation of warfare that denies the sufferer her humanity and relieves the bomber of his responsibility in inflicting the suffering. By rendering these identities irrelevant to the spectacle of the suffering, the footage ultimately suppresses the emotional, ethical and political issues that lie behind the bombardment of Baghdad.
Keywords: analytics of mediation, multi-modality, television footage, regime of pity, aesthetic representation, Iraq war
Published online: 08 June 2005
Cited by other publications
Aydın-Düzgit, Senem & Bahar Rumelili
Carpentier, Nico & Benjamin De Cleen
Maryam Sadat, Ghiasian, Namvar Zahra, Rovshan Belgheis & Soltani Ali Asghar
Slattery, Karen & Ana C. Garner
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 03 january 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.
Brooks, R, Lewis, J., Mosdell, N. and Threadgold, T.
2004b Shock and Awe: The Aestheticisation of Suffering in Iraq War Footage. (Working paper available at MediaDemos website http://www.cbs.dk/ikl/mediahub)
Perlmutter, D. and Wagner, G.
Reisigl, M. and Wodak, R.