The Last War Crime
Region: North America
Artist: The Pen, Writer and Director of "The Last War Crime" feature film
Confronting Bodies: YouTube
Dates of Action: December 2011 to January 2012
Description of Artwork: A one-minute clip from The Pen's movie "The Last War Crime" featuring waterboarding; indicting Dick Cheney for torture.
The Incident: YouTube removed the clip on the generic grounds that it contained “nudity, pornography, or other sexually provocative content.”
The purpose of the scene in the movie is to condemn waterboarding, long recognized to be a form of torture unequivocally. According to The Pen, the scene also serves to remind everyone that the sexual taunting of helpless and mostly innocent captives, in places like Abu Ghraib, was a deliberate part of a de facto program to degrade people in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Results of Incident: The Pen appealed to the film’s fans to protest YouTube's censorship of the preview waterboarding scene from the soon-to-be released feature film. "YouTube's purported excuse for banning the video," Pen says, "was a false claim that the video contained 'nudity, pornography, or other sexually provocative content."
In response to more than 7,000 personal protest messages, YouTube has attempted to quietly reinstate the censored clip. The Pen stated: "We just got word from one of our own participants that YouTube had surreptitiously reinstated the clip overnight. We heard it that way because YouTube did not even give us the courtesy of a notice this had happened, though they sure were able to find our email address to send the original kill notice."
Demands that YouTube implement real accountability continue to mount on the action page: http://www.lastwarcrime.com.
The Pen wants YouTube to add a special section on the site where people can log and challenge such actions in future. Perhaps the artist can also turn his attention to the film’s IMDb page, where there is no current trace of his writer-director credits.
"The Last War Crime" is in submission to the Cinequest Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, SXSW, the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, and the Seattle International International Film Festival, with an official release anticipated shortly after a film festival run.