1. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (New York: Picador, 2003), 13.[return to page 1]
2. Vivian Sobchack, “Inscribing Ethical Space: Ten Propositions on Death, Representation, and Documentary,” in Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 237.
3. Daniel C. Hallin, The Uncensored War: The Media and Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 110.
4. Jodi Dean, Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010), 110, 125.
5. Alexandra Juhasz, Learning from YouTube (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011),
6. “Community Guidelines,” YouTube, accessed March 19, 2011,
7. For a synchronization of footage from all six cameras, see: “Captured by 6 different cameras BART police shoot and kill unarmed Oscar Grant,” YouTube video, 9:39, posted by “streetgangs,” July 4, 2010,
8. “Iran, Tehran: wounded girl dying in front of camera, Her name was Neda,” YouTube video, 0:40, posted by “FEELTHELIGHT,” June 20, 2009,
9. Brian Stelter and Brad Stone, “Web Pries Lid of Iranian Censorship,” The New York Times, June 22, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/world
11. André Bazin, “Death Every Afternoon,” in Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema, ed. Ivone Margulies, trans. Mark A. Cohen (Durham: Duke University Press, 1958/2003), 27-31.
12. See, for example, Scott Shane, “Spotlight Again Falls on Web Tools and Change,” The New York Times, January 29, 2011,
13. David R. Wrone, The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK's Assassination (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2003), 70.
14. Philip Seib, “New Media and Prospects for Democratization,” in New Media and the New Middle East, ed. Philip Seib (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 4.
15. These statistics accompany the following videos, and are consistent with those of other Grant and Agha-Sotltan videos: “POLICE SHOOTING AT BART STATION – OSCAR GRANT,” YouTube video, 3:28, from an episode of KTVU Morning News televised by KTVU on January 5, 2009, posted by “TheDirtyNews,” January 5, 2009,
16. The New York Times, for example, did not report on the Grant shooting until more than a week after it occurred, when large protests began in Oakland.
17. Statistics on criminal charges brought against officers demonstrate how unusual Mehserle’s case was. See Demian Bulwa, “Ex-BART Cop Accused of Murder in Rare Group,” The San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2009,
18. Comment from Sepirothkai [“Iran, Tehran: wounded girl”].
19. PBS aired A Death in Tehran as part of its Frontline series in November 2009 and HBO aired For Neda in June 2010; William Yong, “Iran Halts Production of ‘Neda’ Figures,” The New York Times, June 9, 2010,
20. The 1968 coverage of Lém’s execution is a notable pre-digital precursor. It was captured on film by NBC cameraman Vo Suu and as a photograph by Eddie Adams. For more on Hollywood’s presentation of death from multiple angles, see Amy Rust, “‘Passionate Detachment’: Technologies of Vision and Violence in American Cinema, 1967-1974” (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2010), 22-42.
21. See John Taylor, “Foreign Bodies,” Body Horror: Photojournalism, Catastrophe, and War (New York: NYU Press, 1998), 129-156.
22. Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany, Contribution to the Roundtable “Keyword Searches: 9/11 Plus Ten” (presented at the annual meeting for the American Studies Association, Baltimore, MD, October 20-23, 2011). I am also grateful to Nazanin Shahrokni for giving me similar insights in commenting on a draft of this work.
23. One example showing a male protester dying from a shot to the neck has only 749 views and 7 comments, as of April 8, 2012 [“protester shot in neck in Iran, GRAPHIC MATERIAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE,” YouTube video, 0:43, posted by “CensorshipIsBad,” June 17, 2009,
25. Jean Burgess and Joshua Green describe YouTube as a site that is, “U.S.-dominated demographically to an extent; but...feels culturally U.S.-dominated out of all proportion” [Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2009), 82].
26. See Philippe Ariès, Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, trans. Patricia M. Ranum (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974).
28. Henry Jenkins, “From Rodney King to Burma: An Interview with Witness's Sam Gregory,” Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins, April 2, 2008,
30. Comment on “Cop shoots & Kill unarmed Man(Oscar Grant),” YouTube video, 3:59, posted by “bofoleone,” January 6, 2009,
31. Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004), 37.
32. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 111.
33. Lesley Fulbright and Steve Rubenstein, “BART Protesters in SF: ‘We Are Oscar Grant!’” The San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2009,
34. Butler, 30-31.
35. http://nedaspeaks.org; photo count as of April 11, 2012.
36. Dean, 3.
37. “I am Neda,” Tumblr, July 17, 2009,
38. The soldier writes: “ . . . even in the military there are those of us that see what is happening in the world, and we are also appalled. i’m only one country away from iran, and there’s still so little i can do. for what it’s worth, i hope this helps, somehow”
39. Sam Gregory, for example, notes that, “most human rights situations are embedded in contexts of structural complexity, long histories of repression and reaction and many actors with different agendas” [Jenkins]. [return to page 4]
40. David Cook, Martyrdom in Islam (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 154-155; Joyce M. Davis, Martyrs: Innocence, Vengeance, and Despair in the Middle East (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 9.
41. Roxanne Varzi, Warring Souls: Youth, Media, and Martyrdom in Post-Revolution Iran (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 47; Cook, 4; Davis, 46.
42. Journalist Scott Peterson speculates, “Part of the strategy like that, certainly for the Islamic Republic, would be to just cast so much doubt, to really just cloud the issue so much, ... [that] all of it would be meant to somehow undermine the power of the story of Neda's death” [“Interview: Scott Peterson,” Frontline, September 9, 2009,
43. These tropes are described by Cook, 116-134.
44. Examples of Iranians reading Agha-Soltan’s death through the codes of Islamic martyrdom abound in HBO’s For Neda – a documentary that scarcely mentions the word “martyr,” let alone explains its cultural context, but includes interviewees who weave together a forceful, subtextual martyrology more accessible to viewers steeped in Islamic culture [For Neda, directed by Anthony Thomas, aired June 14, 2010].
45. Cook, 4.
46. “Iranian Protests, Neda, Moussavi and more—Rachel Maddow,” YouTube video, 9:34, from an episode of The Rachel Maddow Show televised by MSNBC on June 22, 2009, posted by “CheneyWatch1,” June 28, 2009,
47. Leslie Fulbright, “Many See Race as Central to BART Killing,” The San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 2009,
49. Elizabeth Alexander, “'Can You be BLACK and Look at This?': Reading the Rodney King Video(s),” in The Black Public Sphere: A Public Culture Book, ed. Black Public Sphere Collective (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 84, 96.
50. Jason Sperb, “Reassuring Convergence: Online Fandom, Race, and Disney’s Notorious Song of the South,” Cinema Journal 49, no. 4 (2010): 28.
51. Demian Bulwa, “Many Police Use Cameras to Record Interactions,” The San Francisco Chronicle, July 27, 2010,
53. Cook, 11.