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Terror-Themed Game Suspended (Iraqi-Born Artist Asserts Censorship after Exhibit Shut Down)

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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:53 AM
Original message
Terror-Themed Game Suspended (Iraqi-Born Artist Asserts Censorship after Exhibit Shut Down)
Source: Washington Post

Terror-Themed Game Suspended
Iraqi-Born Artist Asserts Censorship After Exhibit Is Shut Down


By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 8, 2008; Page A03

NEW YORK -- In the video game that Wafaa Bilal created, his avatar is steely-eyed and hooded, with an automatic rifle at his side, an ammunition belt around his waist, a fuse in his hand and the mien of a knightly suicide-bomber. He is the "Virtual Jihadi." The Iraqi-born, Chicago-based artist said he adapted his game from an earlier version made by al-Qaeda's media branch to raise questions about Americans' conceptions of the enemy in Iraq.

His work was briefly exhibited Thursday night at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. The game was projected on a giant screen so that one viewer at a time could play -- until administrators shut down the show Friday morning. The institute needed time to review the show's "origin, content and intent," said William N. Walker, a vice president. To Bilal, who said he was arrested several times for his artwork in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, it was censorship. "It's an art show that is trying to solicit a conversation among people," Bilal said. "And when you shut it down, you say you don't have any right to say your point of view."

The game has a tortuous history. It began as a downloadable video game, Quest for Saddam, that was devised by a young American and allowed the player to kill identical Iraqis in the desert while hunting their leader. Then the Global Islamic Media Front, the media branch of al-Qaeda, created its own version, Night of Bush Capturing, changing the characters so that the player kills identical Americans and ultimately President Bush. Bilal hacked into the al-Qaeda version and created a character based on himself: a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago who loses his father and brother to the war in Iraq. The character becomes an al-Qaeda recruit and hunts Bush.

That was enough to get the FBI involved. Someone complained to the bureau, whose agents contacted the administrators of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Kathy High, head of the arts department, said in an interview. Bilal said he hopes to raise questions about stereotypes of Iraqis, and about conceptions of what creates a suicide bomber. "I wanted to let people see how bad it feels to be labeled and hunted," he said.


Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...


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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 06:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. Well that was a dumb thing to do, both for the artist to make that and the school to display it.
You just don't do such a thing in this country and that's been a fact since looong before Bush. Unfortunately, being Iraqi-born really doesn't bode well for him in this... :(
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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. He's a fucking artist. It's his fucking job.
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 07:30 AM by Hissyspit
What has happened to this site? It used to be the home of liberals and progressives.

Now I post something and just sit and wait for the first watered-down moderate Bush-apologist to post something.

"A dumb thing to do." It's what artists do. They make us think about things.

Jesus Christ.

"Hey, let's shut the artists up! Yeah! That's a good idea!"

No, it's not a good idea. It's DUMB.

Did you bother to read the article??



"Several of Bilal's other works evoke the violence of the current war. In his piece "Domestic Terrorism" in Chicago in 2007, he confined himself to a room in a gallery where he installed Web cameras and allowed Internet viewers to watch him eat, sleep, drink and read -- and fire yellow paintballs at him.

On http://www.dogoriraqi.com, people can vote on whether to subject a cute pug dog or Bilal to waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning."

"The arts department, known for cutting-edge work, overwhelmingly supported the exhibit. Faculty members said Bilal is a bridge-builder and cited an emotional conference call he had set up for them with Iraqi art teachers."
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Sam Ervin jret Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:12 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Are you kidding? In America? On DU you say this? How far we have fallen.
On an "underground" site, we condone the artistic repression by the state?

You need an "ignore" button for that or better yet a "get a look at this guy", "can you believe he said that with a straight (virtual) face" and a "take your message to the republican watchdog site" buttons.

really? "such a thing in this country" as free speech bothers you? Check your priorities. Check the games that are already out there and that the government USES to train our kids to KILL better.

And you want to stop an artist who puts a game up for debate?

Does it bother you that it doesn't "bode well" for him that he is Iraqi? You state it as such a matter of fact. As if we should just accept that, and get along with it already. Where's the outrage? No :( is due in the post some sort of :nuke: type anger or at least :wow: I can't believe they did that.

Maybe your post was all :sarcasm:

I hope so, if so then forgive my :rant: , but if not :thumbsdown: to your comment.
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ConcernedCanuk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:18 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. "You just don't do such a thing in this country" - sadly, it seems freedom of expression is dying
.
.
.

And you are ok with this?

Oh boy. . . .
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Duncan Donating Member (498 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. Wrong.
Read the whole article.
It is wrong that they shut this down.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 07:24 AM
Response to Reply #1
8. Some of you were apparently born yesterday. On what planet have you lived where making threats
...against a US president, even if there's no intention to actually carry out a threat, even if it is simply in some art piece, DOESN'T drawn unwanted attention to one's self from the Secret Service and FBI? This has NOTHING to do with freedom of speech, it has EVERYTHING to do with being smart enough to know that someone somewhere is going to misinterpret your work and rat you out, even if you're completely harmless.

You people can't POSSIBLY be this naive.
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YankmeCrankme Donating Member (576 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. What planet are you on?
He didn't make threats against the US president. Do you realize that there have been numerous movies and books that portray threats against the US president, in fact one movie is opening or has already opened where a president gets shot.

Talk about your "being born yesterday" and naivety.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 07:49 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Except those are fictional works portraying fictional presidents...
This art piece had sitting President George W. Bush as the ultimate target to kill. Big difference there, Pollyanna.
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Tempest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. Bush is assassinated in the film "Death of a President"
Not a fictional president, Bush himself.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_a_President

You're way off base on this one.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. Try reading the posts right below this before posting inane "Gotcha!" posts. n/t
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Tempest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Try admitting you were wrong
DRoseDARs (1000+ posts) Mon Mar-10-08 12:49 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. Except those are fictional works portraying fictional presidents...
This art piece had sitting President George W. Bush as the ultimate target to kill. Big difference there, Pollyanna.


The film "Death of a President" portrayed George W. Bush as the ultimate target to kill, and was in fact killed in the film.

You might want to take your own advice and try reading your own posts.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. One contradictory example does not your point make. And I'm already discussing it with LeftyMom. n
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MetaTrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 06:24 AM
Response to Reply #21
27. Bush IS a fictional president
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 07:13 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. Well, with the theft of two presidential elections in a row, I suppose that's true. n/t
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Did you happen to see "Death of a President"?
Same thing. It's art. It's making a point. Nothing is sacrosanct.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Unlike you, I'm aware it was made in the UK were they aren't as quick to kneejerk reactions.
The point you and others are missing is that people are hyper-sensitive here in the United States and are less tolerant of art that portrays the death of a sitting (re:non-fictional) president. I could give a shit, but I don't. However, plenty of others DO give a shit and this artist set himself up for a world of trouble.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I'm perfectly aware it's a UK production. I've actually watched it.
Which is how I know it involves the current US president, in a realistic scenario and documentary-like format.

If the artist is willing to take these risks on for himself (and he's Iraqi-American, he knows them and doesn't need some paternalistic person on the internet to explain them) that's his choice. There's no sense in letting our every choice be guided by others' ignorance, or we wind up with situations like this, where your knee is jerking around like a marionette for fear of somebody else's knee jerk reaction. That sort of moral cowardice lets the real terrorists- the ones running this country into the ground- win. Shame.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #14
20. You have absolutely no evidence to say whether he knew or not...
Edited on Mon Mar-10-08 03:23 PM by DRoseDARs
And let's take the word "fire" in a movie theater. Saying it in and of itself doesn't trigger a problem, you have to actually yell it. However, you still have to be careful discussing it because it wouldn't take much for someone to mishear you and think you're discussing an actual fire in that theater. This artist might have been OK if he had posted a disclaimer on his art piece clearly stating that such people are morons for confusing fictional art pieces for terroristic threats (He's an artist, so why say it politely when you can say what you really think?). Like I said, I could give a shit but I don't. Others, unfortunately, are morons and DO give a shit.
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Tempest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. The movie was shown in U.S. theatres
What say you now?
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. The US has zero jurisdiction in the UK.
I really wish people would exercise their critical thinking skills BEFORE posting inane attempts at "Gotcha!" posts. :eyes:
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 06:13 AM
Response to Reply #1
25. Wow
Just . . . WOW.
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 07:16 AM
Response to Reply #25
29. I know. The Pollyannish worldview some people have is just stunning. n/t
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 06:22 AM
Response to Reply #1
26. He's absolutely allowed to do this.. no matter what you think. . .n/t
Edited on Tue Mar-11-08 06:22 AM by annabanana
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 07:23 AM
Response to Reply #26
30. At no point have I ever said he isn't as if there was a law. I'm pointing out the fact...
...that airing fantasy scenarios of causing harm or death to a sitting president (not some fictional made-up president) always manages to bring unwanted negative attention to the person that airs them. The US isn't some magical fairyland made of gumdrops and cotton candy where you can say anything and everything and not potentially face some backlash for it. Coming from Saddam's Iraq, the US must've looked like that to this artist but he found out the hard way that it isn't. He'll be lucky if all he suffers is a stern talking to by the FBI and not deportation. People have been deported for less.
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. (pretty rainbow & gumdrop strawman). . . . . . . . n/t
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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-11-08 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. (selective reading & willful ignorance). . . . . . . . n/t
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
5. What is my daughter going to do with all the TerrorKin stuffed Jihadists she bought! for the game?nt
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arrested_president Donating Member (84 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Does This Mean I Can't Play 'Desert Storm'
And, kill all the Iraqis I want? Damn.

What about all the other games that kill non-whites, like 'Medal Of Honor/Valor' (I forget which)?

What about all the other games that kill whites and women (like Grand Theft Auto)?

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Bush_MUST_Go Donating Member (378 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:24 PM
Response to Reply #7
23. Or non-christians in NY? Is the only person worthy of protection a US Pres? -->
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HuffleClaw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-09-08 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
10. "he was arrested several times for his artwork in Saddam Hussein's Iraq"
i can't imagine the FBI was thrilled about being dragged into a tiff about art and i bet it was ONE freeper-type that whined to the feds and then the university panicked.

"The controversy erupted two weeks before Thursday's opening, when the **College Republican** blog called the art department a "terrorist safehaven." Some students began to lobby the administration to cancel the show." (and one likely said, 'hey, lets call the FBI about that terrorist artist!) yup, some 'offended' republicans.


- i'm gonna guess this decision gets reversed in a couple days.
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Ordr Donating Member (699 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
17. The idea disgusts me.
But that is his right as an artist.
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Bilbo Heugan Donating Member (41 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-10-08 03:24 PM
Response to Original message
22. When will the same morally superior values be applied against the ubiquitous gun commercials on TV
that are mislabeled as action movies?
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