The camera has redefined humanity’s understanding of war. It all started with the hiring of Eadweard Muybridge by the U.S. Army to photograph the Lava Beds War against the Native American Modocs in 1872. Nearly a hundred years later, film footage from the front in Vietnam brought jungle warfare into the American living room. More recently, CNN’s existence as a network was justified by the Star Wars-like nighttime assaults and video game-esque smart bombs of the first Gulf War.
In Iraq at the start of the 21st century, cameras continue to define and record a war whose very definition is a political debate. Even as the Pentagon blocks troop access to YouTube and MySpace, videos continue to travel both ways, writing a wholly unique military history.
For one recent Iraqi university graduate, identified only as Wisam, video games like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid are a way to pass time under curfew. Of Grant Theft Auto, he says: “It’s like Baghdad, you know. You can steal any car you want. You can blow up cars and ya know you see a lot police rolling on the streets. It’s really really fact on us. [sic]” Alive in Baghdad delivers another amazing bit of viewer-supported war journalism.
High schooler Lizzie Palmer’s video honoring and supporting the troops has been viewed over 16 million times. The comment section attracted so much vitriolic debate on the war that Palmer opted to disable it. “I have been receiving way too many negative comments and people arguing with and insulting each other in comments on this video,” she explained.
The ClipBandits, who had previously given us a steady stream of jam-bandy web-collabs, brought an urgent and poignant endorsement for Memorial Day. The 60-second video, garnering over 10 million views, is patriotically mute but says a lot in it’s written description:
Clipandits find it ironic the U.S. government has decided to cut off access to YouTube for military personnel stationed around the world. Yes, they can view YouTube from their own computers at home, but doesn’t do a lot of good for soldiers on the battlefield who only have access to defense department issued computers. We believe if servicemen are sent out to fight war, they should at least have the choice to view what they want on the Internet.
This video captures the militaristic might of the the armed forces’ state-of-the-art computerized surveillance and offensive strike capability. While urban warfare on the streets of Baghdad looks quite different, videos like this capture a specific facet of a powerful military capacity.
This was a recent “most viewed” item from Break.com. It’s such an amazing juxtaposition with the preceding video and captures a scene of when nature calls that Larry the Cable Guy might attempt.
Do you want to know what it looks like to when an IED goes off? This is a striking first-hand clip of a convoy under attack. Troops are taking dashboard and even cannon-mounted MiniDV cameras with them into battle capturing unique and powerful footage.
Soldiers Run Over IED Device (warning: language)
In the aftermath of an IED attack that did hit its target, this is a riveting scene, captured in an entirely historically novel way. These soldiers all thankfully and miraculously survived a blast that destroyed their Humvee; a soldier’s video log records the scene.