Friday, January 17, 2014

Netflix Movie Review: Control Room

Control Room (2004) Poster
So my wife and I got into a fight last night, a big one. I went to bed early and woke up around 1 in the morning, still stressed out about the argument and unable to get to sleep. I could either play something on the PS3, or watch something. If I played something I’d be up later than in I watched something, and playing something stood the chance of the game feeding my frustration instead of helping. I opted to watch something, and with The Square coming out I decided to watch Control Room, director Jehane Noujaim’s movie from 2004 that covers the Iraq War.
            Possibly this movie of fighting could help me with the arguments going on at home.

            First let me say that I am not political at all. Like, at all. Almost 40 and during those 40 years, republican or democrat president, nothing changes. I still give the government money, there are still wars and fighting, there are scandals, and through it all no one is given a break because the sort of things I face here in Kansas are nothing compared to those going on in other parts of the world. I’m more interested in the politics going on in other parts of the world than I am here. I see the things going on in America all the time, the internet, news on TV, all of I got a pretty good grasp of (the right doesn’t like the left, left doesn’t like the right, but they both need each other, and when they admit and accept that fact important things may move a bit more smoothly, but what do I know?). The stuff going on somewhere else, that’s the stuff that is going to define the world, not so much the sort of drama happening here. The drama here, though important of course to those involved, in the grand scheme will not define the world, and shows like Control Room help to put things in perspective, if not possibly just highlight more than what you may be aware of.
            Control Room centers mostly on Al Jazeera, an Arab news channel; think the doppelganger of Fox News.

            The whole thing – I think – can be summed up with Al manager Joanne Tucker, when she is asked if their reporters can be objective, she answers with the question are American journalist’s objective? The word objectivity is a mirage.

            I thought; that’s perfect and genius, because no, obviously our reporters are not objective because republican or democrat, the Iraq War – like any war – came down to winner or loser. They all wanted America to win, while at the same time Al Jazeera wanted Iraq to win. Here in America we have strict rules with TV news, nothing like the sort of things that Al Jazeera was showing, however, were we being attacked I think our rules may be changed a bit. I can remember on 9/11, seeing quite a bit of tragedy (bodies, hurt people, people falling) that the news would normally cut away from.

            I think the main thing that disturbed the government and those who did see the images that Al Jazeera was showing was the fact that we were all told the Iraqi people wanted us there, wanted our help, wanted to be free of Osama, and if so then why were they showing POWs and wounded children and women and saying America was doing this? Did they want us there? If there was even a doubt then let’s reassess the situation, folks, but that’s not how this world works.

            At the beginning someone points out how the media and propaganda will win wars, and Control Room shows that this – true or not – is something that America needs to adjust on how they handle such things like the media. When it is talked about the deck of cards that show the people the soldiers are to look for, and it’s said that the reporters will get to see the cards, either the man spoke without knowing if that was okay or not or he spoke and then changed his mind, but when the cards were not presented to the media as they thought it turned into a great example of the American government not knowing how to deal with the media. A little thing like the deck of cards and saying they would be shown and then not showing them, turned into an ordeal that caused tension between the media from both sides of the war and the American government. Watching that female soldier speaking for a higher ranking officer that obviously spoke out of turn, and taking the heat for what he’d said, was an uncomfortable part of the movie – though she did seem to handle herself just fine, it seemed to bother me more than her.
            The documentary also covers the death of an Al Jazeera reporter, and I was surprised to see how all the reporters there banded together through that disturbing event, it was almost uplifting to see these people from all around the world affected by this reporters unnecessary death.

            However, and I don’t mean this to be negative, but what reporter, reporting from the center of a war, does not think of the possibility of them being caught up in the fight and hurt or killed? I felt bad for the reporter and hearing his wife talk was heart breaking, and I get that they want to be there to show the world the truth of what was going on, but being a reporter does not make you immune to the war going on around you. Some said the attack was deliberate, and if so then of course that is wrong and embarrassing for America or England, whoever’s plane was the one that attacked the building the reporter was located, and I am not belittling that man’s death or any other innocent person’s death throughout the war, I’m just surprised at how surprised all those journalists are at hearing that one of their own was killed.
            The movie presented the other side of the war without really choosing a side of the war, it was slanted towards Al Jazeera but only because the movie is about Al Jazeera, but it was slanted not in a way that shows that one side is right or wrong, it was simply saying: Here, this is their side, this is why they do these things because they believe these things. They are not any different than anyone else in the world.
            Lt. Josh Rushing, an officer who spoke often for the military to the media, was a source of inspiration to me in regards to future fights with my wife. His calm demeanor was never sarcastic in any way negative, even as he is being attacked with questions, questions that are repeated to him over and over because the other person did not like the answer. Lt. Josh Rushing stayed cool like a rock star, and I admired him for that, and I think the reporters – even the ones he irritated the most – admired him for staying calm and never losing control. I think  a lot can be said for someone who stays calm, mostly because it says that this what we are talking about is important and me losing my shit right now will only hurt everything we are trying to build as well as possibly damage everything we have already built. I am here representing myself but also the future that all us will have to live in, a future where we would all want things to be cool and calm, a future where we talk and don’t fight . . . sure, a future that will never happen, but it’s something to work for and strive towards, it’s something for our children to build on.

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