Are suicide bombers performing?

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET

I've been thinking and writing about performative self-consciousness in a mediated age for the last five years or so, and I have this question which I've scarcely dared to formulate so unlikely does it seem. I'm wondering if "playing a starring role" could be part of the motive for suicide bombers, not the whole motive, obviously, but part? At first I recoil from the thought—nobody needs attention that much! But then I remember Columbine and I remember the video record of themselves that the shooters compiled—I saw some of those tapes, and this is my native culture, and I've taught High School, and I know those kids were starring in their own show. So I'm asking—maybe Ishrad Manji or Hooman Majd or any knowledgeable HuffPoster or commenter could speak to this—is there anything like a culture of performance at work in the worlds of suicide bombers?