Through the Crosshairs: War, Visual Culture, and the Weaponized Gaze

by Roger Stahl (2018)

- Mass media and war -- United States.
- War in mass media.
- Popular culture -- United States.
- War and society -- United States.

Now that it has become so commonplace, we rarely blink an eye at camera footage framed by the crosshairs of a sniper’s gun or from the perspective of a descending smart bomb. But how did this weaponized gaze become the norm for depicting war, and how has it influenced public perceptions?
Through the Crosshairs traces the genealogy of this weapon’s-eye view across a wide range of genres, including news reports, military public relations images, action movies, video games, and social media posts. As he tracks how gun-camera footage has spilled from the battlefield onto the screens of everyday civilian life, Roger Stahl exposes how this raw video is carefully curated and edited to promote identification with military weaponry, rather than with the targeted victims. He reveals how the weaponized gaze is not only a powerful propagandistic frame, but also a prime site of struggle over the representation of state violence. 

1. A Strike of the Eye
2. Smart Bomb Vision
3. Satellite Vision
4. Drone Vision
5. Sniper Vision
6. Resistant Vision
7. Afterword: Bodies Inhabited and Disavowed


Roger Stahl is an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Georgia in Athens. He is the author of Militainment, Inc. and has produced several documentary films on the military-entertainment complex, including Militainment, Inc. and Returning Fire. 



"Stahl displays true dexterity with theory, offering observations both big and small that wonderfully merge abstract concepts with concrete examples of popular culture. His analyses are exceptionally adept, creative, clever, and enlightening."
--Matt Sienkiewicz, author of The Other Air Force: U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media Since 9/11

"Roger Stahl’s wild new book shows how military technology wages war on us all—even those of us lucky enough to be on the 'right side' of the border, the scope, or the screen. Engaging, fun, and filled with sharp insights into the militarization of popular culture, Through the Crosshairs is a blast."
--Joshua Reeves, Oregon State University, author of Citizen Spies: The Long Rise of America's Surveillance Society

"Immersing readers in the perilous visualities of smart bombs, snipers, and drones, Through the Crosshairs delivers a riveting analysis of the weaponized gaze and powerfully explicates the political stakes of screen culture's militarization.  Packed with insights about the current conjuncture, the book positions Stahl as a leading critic of war and media."
--Lisa Parks, Comparative Media Studies, MIT, author of Rethinking Media Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War


Stahl, Roger
Through the Crosshairs: War, Visual Culture, and the Weaponized Gaze.
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2018, c. 224 p., ill., 23 cm.
(War Culture.).
ISBN 9780813585260 (hb., $99,95)
ISBN 9780813585253 (pb., $27,95)
ISBN 9780813585284 (pdf, $27,95)
ISBN 9780813585277 (epub, $27,95)
ISBN 9780813598116 (mobi, $27,95)
[Bibl. refs.]