July 17, 2008

Killing Bush = Art

What passes for art these days? Killing President Bush. No joke. An Iraqi professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Wafaa Bilal, is now displaying his latest 'work': a video game where the player hunts down and kills President Bush.

Sound familiar? That's because it is. Wafaa's 'art' is simply a hack of a video game made by the Global Islamic Media Front GIMF), an online al Qaeda media support group, called The Night of Bush Capturing (image above). GIMF's video game, where the jihadi user attempts to capture and kill President Bush, was actually a hack of another video game The Quest for Saddam.

The nuance added to GIMF's work is that instead of just assuming the player is an al Qaeda operative out to kill President Bush because that's the right thing to do, Bilal gives the player a reason to kill the President: U.S. forces have killed his brother.

Not so incidentally, Bilal's brother was really killed by U.S. troops at a checkpoint in Iraq. Sounds rather like a masturbatory fantasy on Bilal's part, doesn't it?

The alleged point of the traveling exhibit which lets the gallery visitor pretend he's an al Qaeda terrorist bent on killing President Bush?

This work is meant to bring attention to the vulnerability of Iraqi civilians to the travesties of the current war and racist generalizations and stereotypes as exhibited in games such as "Quest for Saddam," along with vulnerability to recruitment by violent groups like Al Qaeda because of the U.S.'s failed strategy in securing Iraq. The work also aims to shed light on groups that traffic in crass and hateful stereotypes of Arab culture with games like "Quest for Saddam" and other media.
I'm not sure how pretending you are an Arab suicide bomber bent on killing the President of the United States helps the fight against racist stereotypes against Arabs. But perhaps that's because my taste in art is not quite nuanced enough?

It's interesting to note that Bilal chose to highlight what he sees as the racism inherent in video games where the player is asked to kill Arabs, yet there is nothing racist (or nothing of note to point out) in Arabs killing white guys.

Also, if Bilal thinks Americans are such racist bastards, why is he here instead of back in Iraq?

Thanks to AllahP.

UPDATE: Didn't see this before, but apparently the Lord of Moons also had a similar conversation with his boss about this one. Michelle Malkin has her own commentary on this including the reaction of protesters to the game.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:40 PM | Comments |