Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where is the Control?

The film “Control Room” continually piqued my interest and asked hard questions. It functioned as a wonderful supplement to the Keenan readings for this week.

While Al Jazeera worded the American news coverage of the Iraq War as “propaganda”, it made me question the function of a national(ized) media. If there is no war without media then there will always be propaganda? If Al-Jazeera does the same thing to its audience (which they did not exactly deny doing) is everything fair and clear? I wanted to find a winner or someone with a moral authority but I quickly learned from this film that that ideology simplifies and idealizes the world. Is our media so impressionable that it can be “hacked”? And if so, does this ability propagate and promote war? Is it truly that simple?

The question of “seeing is believing” was literalized in the film when the bodies of dead Iraqis and American soldiers were shown. I wish I could say it made me uncomfortable but instead I immediately examined my own response. Yes, they were images I had never seen before but there was still a mental block that prevented me from breaking down in the dark classroom. I blamed it on “compassion fatigue” (438). This was not due to overexposure. I fear that all the chatter about disturbing images I definitely “had NOT seen” made me dull to the actual images. In this case, my NOT seeing was enough for believing.

Another interesting part was when CENTCOM prevented the release of their terrorist cards. The obstruction of information which was negated, in part, by this movie, leads to Keenan’s point that “the network ‘treats censorship as damage, and just routes around it.’ That is, if you try to stop the flow of information, all that happens is that you get less information—but nobody else does.” (92) I think the movie made a strong point for how information was disseminated. It was inspiring to the extent the reporters would have fought for access to those cards (and as we all know, eventually, they did acquire the pictures). Maybe our media, when hungry for facts, is not so easily vilified? Gaining information is always the goal but how it is expressed will always be influenced. If we move forward with that understanding, we move in a more positive direction.

-Nick White

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