An art exhibit featuring a video game called Virtual Jihadi was shut down twice in two weeks. Virtual Jihadi, created by Wafaa Bilal, is a game in which the player controls a suicide bomber on a mission to assassinate President Bush.
The first was at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. The exhibit was up for less than a day before the administration there ordered the exhibit to be taken down. One week later, the exhibit opened up at the Sanctuary for Independent Media, but city officials closed the building the following day due to “code violations.”
The problem has since been resolved and, much to the dismay of the city of Troy, the exhibit is back on display at the Sanctuary.
Virtual Jihadi is the type of thing that will make a lot of people uncomfortable, which is why the city of Troy acted the way it did. I don’t think censoring the artist was the right idea, but I can see where they’re coming from. The thing I like about art is that if you don’t like it, you can ignore it. If people don’t like the exhibit because of what it represents, they can just look the other way.
I will agree that the concept seems a little tasteless, though. I mean, can you imagine a commercial for something like this?
“The creators of Orphanage Rampage are bringing you a game more explosive than anything you’ve ever played before.”
This would be the part of the commercial where the camera would spin around your virtual jihadi. Next would be a scene of him sneaking around the White House lawn. There would then be a cutscene of him prepping the bomb, and another of Bush talking about a security breach on the phone in the Oval Office.
“So fun, you’ll burst!” — GameCraze
“Happy birthday, Mr. President.” — GameCompanyX
“Virtual Jihadi. Mr. Suicide Bomber goes to Washington. Winter 2009.”
- Jason Iatomasi