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The WorldStar of War Porn


Stashed in: Military!, GoPro, Vice

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Woah, really?!

The GoPro is the most popular camcorder in the United States. Through its videos you can inhabit the eyes and ears of anyone: a skydiver, a cat, or, if you really want to, one person killing another.

Just as the earliest cameras of the mid-19th century were dragged onto the battlefields of the Crimean War, so the GoPro ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounted on the helmets and rifle barrels of soldiers. The GoPro has made the combatant, not the correspondent, the main chronicler of war, giving the average viewer a closer look at the realities of combat than ever before merely by browsing YouTube.

When I tried a line like that on T.M. Gibbons-Neff, a two-time Marine combat veteran and Washington Post staff writer, he said I was dressing up something much simpler. "‘War porn’ would be the word," he said.

And if you’re looking for war porn, the place to find it is Funker530.

The so-called "veterans’ community" Funker530 is comprised of a website and a YouTube channel loaded with first-person recordings of airstrikes, special operations firefights, and near-miss IED explosions.

A typical Funker530 video is watermarked and features a cheesy digital intro like in the infamous street fight compilations of the video site WorldStarHipHop. Weapons stick out from the bottom of the frame, carried by the unseen cameraman. The GoPro’s 170-degree lens creates a mild fisheye effect, also known as "barrel distortion," echoing a family of language merging the camera with the gun: you load a camera with film, it takes shots, and so on.

These videos are wildly popular. One, in which the US Army soldier filming from a hillside in Afghanistan is shot multiple times by insurgents far off in the distance, has been viewed 30 million times.

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