NYT Discovers Icon of American Abuse

Iranian pop culture

You know the New York Times is sorta finally on the ball (after how many weeks?) when they finally realize that the Abu Ghraib picture of a hooded detainee standing on a box with wires snaking out is the prominant pop cultural reference to the scandal. The less than stellar report is available in “Torture Incarnate, and Propped on a Pedestal”:

The image appears in mock advertisements in New York, in paintings in San Francisco, on murals in Tehran and on mannequins in Baghdad. It shows no dogs, no dead, no leash, no face, no nakedness, no pileup, no thumbs-up. It is the picture of a hooded prisoner standing on a box, electrodes attached to his outstretched arms.

Why this image above all the rest? It is far from the most violent, but easily the most graphic. You need less than a second’s glance to know exactly what it is. The triangle of the hood silhouettes sharply against the hot pink or chartreuse background of a fake iPod ad. Andy Warhol himself could not have done better.

I’ve been covering this pop-culture adaptation of the torture and abuse pictures coming out of Abu Ghraib, but it’s good to see that the mainstream media isn’t completely out of the loop.

Of course, the Politburo Diktat reveals the more appropriate places for putting the picture in “Forget the Swoosh”.

Torture Incarnate, and Propped on a Pedestal [New York Times]
Forget the Swoosh [Politburo Diktat]


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