Rap stars don't usually end their performances by crying.
But American hip hop artist Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, has created a flurry of discussion after he volunteered to have doctors force-feed him through tubes, mimicking a procedure that a human rights group says the U.S. performs on Guantánamo Bay prisoners.
Bey agreed to have doctors force tubes up his nose and into his stomach for a video commissioned by the human rights group Reprieve. The organization released a report this week saying the U.S. uses violent procedures to force-feed inmates who are on hunger strikes.
In the video, the star squirms and pleads for doctors to stop, ending the performance protest in tears. But according to Ben Ferguson, the Guardian editor who witnessed the filming, there was no acting involved.
He described Bey's discomfort and then panic, saying even the doctors were shaking as they tried to detain him.
Warning: this video might be disturbing to some viewers
On The New Yorker's blog Culture Desk, Emily Greenhouse contemplated why celebrities like Mos Def would volunteer to endure suffering, or take up causes for protest at all, comparing his decision to when author Christopher Hitchens volunteered to be waterboarded.
Publicity stunt or not, the version of this video the Guardian posted on its YouTube channel on July 8 already has more than 3.5 million views.
Are videos like this one valuable for raising public awareness?