Jul. 2nd, 2005

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Control Room is a documentary on the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, chronicling their coverage of the Iraqi war.

A friend recommended this to me, and I watched it mainly because I was curious about how the network worked, and not at all about the war, assuming that I already knew what had happened. And it did focus very tightly on the network - it introduced us to the people who produced the news, such as Samir Khader, the senior producer, an ex-Iraqi who wanted to send his children to the US to study, and Deema Khatib, a woman staff member, highly educated and eloquent, just to name two, and I found myself wishing that the discussions we see on the news today were anything near as thought-provoking as the ones they had with each other, with the American military reps. (Which isn't to say that I don't think they were biased - of course they were biased, being who they were, and of course we are biased, being who we are, and as Mrs. Khatib stated in the movie, it seems a bit pointless to harp on that. What mattered to me is that it was clear that they tried to understand the other viewpoint, and that their viewpoint was that of other educated Arabs, and one I almost never hear, living in the U.S.)

A one minute exerpt from the movie:

Read more... )

What I found the most compelling, however, was when the film focused on the war, the consequences of it - because I thought I knew what had happened, but I really hadn't. And, goddd. One of the most moving parts was of the day when America bombed Al-Jazeera headquarters in Iraq (along with the headquarters of two other Arab journalism outfits), stating that they had thought there were terrorists in those buildings. That the American military told such a simplistic lie and got away with it, the consequences that others had to face because of what they did. This is an exerpt from that sequence, of Samir Khader describing what happened on that day.

Read more... )

And just - there were so many parts like this, and perhaps what happened, what's still happening, can best be described by what Deema Khatib said: "The whole war actually is like an American movie. You know the end, you know who's the hero, you know the bad guys, they're going to die. But you still watch because you want to know how it's going to happen and what weapons they're going to use to do it."


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