Monday, August 06, 2007

Control Room

This is the documentary about al-Jazeera and its coverage of the run up/early phases (to overthrow of Saddam) of the Iraq War.

Warning: Graphic imagery in the movie.

It covers obviously a lot of the controversy surrounding the media outlet. I think it's interesting that they are criticized by the Hussein govt, Sunni monarchs (e.g. Saudi Arabia), the Americans, even some Iraqi guerillas (for being American propagandists).

One of the more interesting characters (in terms of reflection and growth) is a young American Lt. working in the Coalition Media Center. You can see him, unlike many other people in the film (on both sides Arab and Western) actually starting to put himself in the position of the other side and noting commonality to his feelings and theirs. Also his comparison between al-Jazeera which plays to its nationalist card with its own demographic and FoxNews to its.

The other character I found most intriguing was a (British-educated) Arab reporter for al-Jazeera (whose wife is a Westerner). He criticizes a friend of his for blaming Israel, with the fabulous line that "If a water pipe breaks in Damascus, Israel is behind it." Saying that the conspiratorial thinking in the Arab world needs to turn the light on themselves. But he is no fan of the American invasion, as you will see.

The most fascinating point for me is simply the optics of it all. Is al-Jazeera staging shots after an American bombing? Are the Americans/British when you see the soldiers greeted by locals (with cameras on them are the locals afraid not to smile?).

And humanely speaking to see the Arab point of view. To see coverage you will never see from the Western press, no matter what one's opinion of al-Jazeera.

And lastly, I should note the highly controversial charge that the Americans targeted their offices purposefully and killed one of their journalists. Can watch the film, find other voices arguing against and make your own determination.

Not to mention the even more controversial supposed memo from Bush to Blair considering targeted bombings of al-Jazeera headquarters. [If you Google it you can find all kinds of discussion either way....].


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