By ALI NADERZAD – I need to veer off course a little to bring up the situation in Iran, specifically the amateur videos which have been going viral. This is an event in which everyone has front-row seats. Having this much access to the visuals from Tehran is extraordinary and it’s thanks to demonstrators with a camera and an internet connection. State news agencies hardly discuss the protests and foreign media has been barred from the country. Rarely has the ongoing democratization of media been so clearly established. It’s as if the tables had been turned between audience and newswires. People provide the newsfeeds and the networks, hungry for visuals since being barred from the proceedings, lap it up. Footage is loaded on Youtube, Vimeo, and Facebook. People and politicians are tagged, captions added and the jumpy, pixelated footage disseminated. It’s a quick and effective method, but more importantly, it’s unfiltered, objective and of course, real. What does this do to media and its relationship to people? Or even technology? Is this the facebook/twitter revolution, as some people are claiming? It sounds a little weird, does it not–cheap, even. But maybe true. Anyway, it certainly does its main task, which is to make known events inside of Iran, currently a fortress and separated from the rest of the world. Sympathies for Iranians are widespread; someone who broadcast on Twitter wrote, ‘today we are all iranian.’
The raw footage of murder and mayhem is shocking. A recent example is the footage of Neda X. (last name unknown)–some say she was a bystander, others a participant in the demonstrations–who took a devastating shot to the heart and died within two minutes. I first saw it Saturday afternoon on Facebook; the footage went viral after that and was picked up by the wires who positioned it front page within about twelve hours. CNN slapped a ‘graphic’ warning on it (and appropriately so) and blurred her face. As the life was quickly leaving her body, her father could be heard screaming “bemoon, bemoon, bemoon.” Stay, stay, stay.
When footage like Neda X’s death spreads so quickly through social networking sites and newswires are left behind, an important mediatic reversal is afoot, though one which is eclipsed, clearly, by the actual events playing out in Tehran and other large cities. Neda X’s death was in vain and it should have never happened. A day after her untimely death, my thoughts are with her family and those who helplessly watched her die.