Monday, January 24, 2005

RH Movie Review: Control Room

Don't expect much Marxist deconstruction out of this reviewer. I have simple taste in movies and generally think of the quality of a movie in simple terms. Does it resonate? Does it make me laugh? Is it interesting? Would I recommend it to a friend? Now I understand that leaves a lot of room for interpretation as one person's Sideways is another's White Chicks, though I'm confident the readers of this blog would be with me on Sideways and leave it to our counterparts over on the right side of the sphere to revel in the idiocy of White Chicks.

I rented Control Room over the weekend and I know I can safely speak for at least one of my two brothers and offer the movie a Rising-Hegemon stamp of approval. The movie was not quite what I expected. I heard Lt. Josh Rushing on Fresh Air with Terry Gross several months back. Lt. Rushing is one of the American military communications/media relations people that appears throughout the film. Lt. Rushing went on Fresh Air shortly after leaving the Marines, as I remember, somewhat under protest for what he perceived were military efforts at censorship. I expected a film that went out of its way to make "us" look bad and "them" (Arabs and Al Jazeera) look good. That really isn't what the film portrayed, and based on what Rushing told Terry Gross about what I'll call "information management" coming from the administration and top military brass, the film could certainly have been more in the model of an expose.

It is difficult to get an accurate picture of whether the MSM really is/was trying to get real news. This film doesn't help that much. It is apparent that there were representatives of the entire MSM there in Quatar at Centcom (and thank God I did not have to hear one person pronounce it "Gutter"). We all know the news was managed; that the MSM wanted to promote the embeds, to create heroes, to tell the story of the young American boys and girls from Hometown USA making good on the battlefield. This movie does best at showing there is another side to the story that must be covered and it does so with what I perceived as a light touch.

We could write for hours about the tragedy of the media coverage of everything not just since Bush was elected but back to the start of the Clinton administration. Books should be written on the issue. But the images that were the most powerful were of Rumsfeld calling Al Jazeera a propganda machine for Al Quaeda and insisting that American POWs be treated according to the Geneva conventions, while Bush insists strong language that those same POWs be treated "humanely". The irony here is really something to behold.

Movies like Control Room are necessary precisely because our MSM has failed so miserably at doing its job. At the end of the movie we see Lt. Rushing talking with an Al Jazeera journalist about how Arabs see American miliary presence in Iraq and how most Arabs see a link between our actions in Iraq and our support of Israel. Most Arabs, according to this journalist, see a link between Iraq and the Isareali/Palestinian conflict. Lt. Rushing, an earnest man and proud soldier, admitted that most Americans just don't see it becasue they aren't getting good information. We owe Rushing a debt of gratitude for his service to the country and for a willingness to look for and talk about the truth when doing so would not have been popular.

That issue isn't the only one about which we aren't getting good information.

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