Political Snuff Porn

This is a blog post about Canadian politics, terrorism, and the pornographic nature of attacks ads. I usually wrote about fantasy, systems, and history, but politics and propaganda are easy enough to relate to Fantasy literature.

The situation is familiar, even to those outside of Canada. A powerful incumbent politician who had led the country for close to a decade is facing a strong challenge in the next election. Prime Minister Harper’s economic plan is as deflated as the price of Texas crude. In response to a shooting on Parliament Hill last year he introduced C51, an ugly piece of legislation which gives spy agencies a host of new powers, including ignoring the rights of Canadian Citizens who the government deems terrorists. Of course, the definition of terrorist in the bill is so vague that it can include any form of protester and specifically includes economic threats or threats to state power. While many supported this stronger powers against terrorists early on, people have become very wary of C51. What was was once a strong position for the incumbent has eroded, but he had nowhere to go without backtracking, hence the attack ads. [Link for those who wish to read more]

This particular ad juxtaposes heavily edited footage of an opponent (Justin Trudeau) with fairly graphic images of Isis murdering people. The intent of the ad was to make everyone terrified of what Isis will do to Canada if this opponent is elected. The fact that they chopped up and distorted the man’s speech is grotesque enough, but actually recycling parts of the vicious terrorist propaganda of Isis for political purposes may actually be a new low, even for professional politicians. I mean, stop and think about it for a moment: Isis creates these videos in part to sew fear, as terrorists are wont to do, then our government, takes parts of these same videos in order to sew fear, in this case in order to increase their electoral chances. Both use the same footage to create fear and both say that the only way to avoid the fate shown in the video is to side with them. The only real difference is that Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives (what else?) say that they will protect us from Isis.  We should be scared, but only of seeking other options.

One of the definitions of pornographic is “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction”. By that definition, political attack ads are almost always pornographic. However, there is a specific term for the vile movies that use actual death to ply their audience: snuff. Our government has created political snuff porn.

Happily Canadians have reacted strongly against this ad, and it has been pulled. Still it is bad enough that Isis is using these kind of videos to attract attention and cause fear, but to have politicians in a western democracy using this kind of footage for their own ends is deeply disturbing.

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