Control Room

If you are looking for a good rental this weekend, I definitely suggest that you check out Control Room, an excellent documentary about Al Jazeera and its coverage of the US war in Iraq. I think the movie is important to see on a number of levels. First, it does an amazing job of illustrating how closely related Al Jazeera is to Fox and CNN. We are often told that Al Jazeera is nothing more than the "mouthpiece for bin Laden" and Arab propaganda. The reality, though, is that such claims are American propaganda meant to dispel the powerful images of the side of war we don't get to see in the States, but are often seen on Al Jazeera. One great part of the film shows Donald Rumsfeld, with no hint of irony, criticize Al Jazeera by saying, "We're dealing with people who will lie just to advance their cause." Secondly, the movie highlights the increasingly close relationship between the media and war. War requires the support of the people, and the media is often the apparatus used to manipulate people into supporting the war. The film highlights the differences in approach between the US and Arab media in their attempts to provoke emotion and support for the war effort. This is something I've always found fascinating, and if you're really interested in reading more about it, check out just about anything from the French philosopher, Paul Virilio. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the film shows a side of the Arab people that we don't normally get to see in the United States. I realized just how pervasive the pejorative stereotype of Arabs is in this country. The truth is they are just like us, and that is something from the film that every American needs to see. And off topic, I also saw Ray last weekend. Unbelievable movie, and incredible acting by Jamie Foxx.