The Snuff Project
New movie builds controversy on the Net
Published December 7, 1999 in Whoa!

Late last night Jay Stile posted a video clip on his Web site. The clip was unremarkable in terms of production values, the story line was pretty basic, and I, for one, found the lighting lacking. But by lunchtime today, Stile was experiencing heavy traffic (he won't be sure how much until he can look at his stats tomorrow) and was getting snowed under by a tide of angry email. I guess everybody's a critic -- but that's what you get when you post an MPEG of some chick getting her head blown off on the Internet these days.

See also...
... by Mat Honan
... in the Whoa! section
... from December 7, 1999

If you've visited The Stile Project, you know it is a daily delight of dwarves, porn, feces, and feces-covered porn-star dwarves. Not your mother's blog, The Stile Project covers it all. Anything, and I do mean anything, that strikes Stile's mind as being worth sharing with the general public might appear there. Sometimes, anything means snuff movies. [WARNING: THIS LINK IS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC.]

"It's an everything-nothing site," says Stile. "Every day I'll change the subject matter by 360 degrees. One day it might be computers and the next day it might be Japanese [coprophiliacs]. " (And you do really need to see those Japanese mung munchers, who hold the distinction of being the only thing on the Net that has so far made GI's entire staff blanch.)

But back to last night. At 10:45 in the p.m., Stile posted the aforementioned snuff film on his Web site. He received it from an ICQ buddy, who told him the clip was a fake. And it does appear to be a fake -- not a particularly good one at that. Flaws in the clip (which Stile is the first to point out) include the fact that the gunshot sounds overdubbed, the blood is the wrong color, there are no bits of skull and brain, the woman does not go completely limp after the shooting, and she continues to scream after her "brains" are on the wall behind her.

Nonetheless, it is, as a friend observed, "frightening at first glance." Enough so that Stile has been overwhelmed with email from his readers. "You wouldn't believe it," he says. "People are saying I'm going to hell. I don't have the patience to read them all."

Now, Stile very well may be going to hell, gentle reader, but don't say he didn't warn you as to his destination. All he did was offer to take you along for the ride. When a guy posts a link stating "Who says snuff films aren't real?," chances are it doesn't lead to a movie about teddy bears.

But don't let that stop the tide of outrage. "Watching people taking it in the groin or falling on their head is one thing but murder, fake or not, is not something to be taken lightly," wrote one reader. "Just ending this e-mail id like to say that your probably only doing this for publicity because you were one of those kids at school that no one liked and your a fukn idiot deranged fagot arsehead. Regards Jim Jellikers p.s. FUCK OFF," said Jim. And the real consensus-builder: "It's fake, but even though it is, it is still some fucked up and shitty thing to post. Period."

Yes, yes exactly. It was a fucked up and shitty thing to post, period. But it was posted on a site that has a dwarf in a bondage costume on the front page at all times! This site proudly claims crackwhores and neo-Nazis as its readership. Posting fucked up shitty things is Stile's M.O. -- it's what sends 15,000 people a day his way.

The gruesome nature of a snuff film is exactly what led those now outraged parties to download the thing in the first place. Perhaps in the brief time it took the clip to play, they managed to forget that.

Stile defends the clip by using the old "It's nothing compared to what you see on DVDs or at the movies these days," excuse. And he's right; it's not. It's just unexpected and (titter, titter) possibly real, groovy!

Stile has other snuff films posted on his site as well, but none seem to be generating the controversy of this one. The problem with the original is that it's just good enough that it raises the specter of possibility in the back of your mind that maybe, just maybe, it might be real. One day, someone will post an actual snuff film on the Net -- where it will be endlessly forwarded, its authenticity questioned, and reviewed in terms of production values by snide teenagers too cool (or saturated) to be bothered by violence.

We all want to condemn Stile for posting snuff films. But lest we forget in our condemnation: He puts them up because we want him to.

Mat Honan is repulsed.