Archive for April, 2010

Humanity is the Price of Vengeance

Humanity is the Price of Vengeance

The beginning of Munich is filmed in quick, jumpy shots.  The rhythm of the shots mimics that of a frightened heartbeat.  It represents the fear and danger of what is about to happen.  It is compelling in all its gruesome glory.  “This is a film that harks back to the great, gritty thrillers of that decade–for many, the heyday of the genre–with its all-pervasive paranoia and palette of steely colors,” (Yomiuri Shimbun). Read more

We Shall Overcome

“This Sunday became known as Bloody Sunday and bloody it was. It was     quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the Army ran amok that day and shot without thinking what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer, unadulterated murder. It was murder” (British Major Hubert O’Neill, Army coroner). Read more

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” –Albert Einstein

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

–Albert Einstein

Even though Albert Einstein was alive during the days of a different war, his insight is still proved relevant today.  The movie The Hurt Locker could easily be mistaken for news coverage or even a promotional campaign from the army.  It is this realistic, tangible perspective that pulls the audience in as they choke on the breath of fresh air that is– The Hurt LockerRead more

pen pal’s view of the blog

I found this interesting when I was asking my pen pal about what she thought of our blog.  It made me realize that the word “terrorism” inflicts so many vivid pictures that are unique to the individual.  Read more

Guest Speaker Aaron Brown

On Thursday of last week (04/22/10) I got to listen and interact in a special talk with Aaron Brown in class.  In case you don’t know too much about who Aaron Brown is, check out his Wikipedia page.  Aaron Brown is probably most well known for his coverage of 9/11 and his evening program NewsNight with Aaron Brown on CNN until it was replaced with Anderson Cooper’s show in 2005.  He has earned many awards for his journalism and is an incredible man to talk to.  I wanted to share a couple of quotes that I wrote down during the talk and discuss them a little bit.

“it made a great phrase”, “nothing can happen in the world without a big banner below it.” – talking about the War on Terror.
Symbols are an extremely important tool for groups, revolutions, terrorists, TV shows, companies, freedom fighters and everyday life.  If you doubt that just do a quick Google search for “The power of symbols” and read some of the results.  Symbols give a center for people to rally around as well as conjure the emotions and thought process that a movement or groups requires to be cohesive and powerful.  The benefit of using symbols is that they are both broad in meaning and implication and specific in representation.  The swastika, for instance, is a very powerful symbol of the Nazi’s and their ideology.  Regardless if it is good or bad, the swastika holds a significant amount of power and under that symbol great and terrible things were done.  The “War on Terror” as a catch phrase is both descriptive and useful while being unspecific and a horrible objective.  First off, how is it possible to wage a war against a feeling that everyone has at least once in their lives.  Sure, in the context of terrorism it is clear that this “War on Terror” means a war against all terrorists, but how is that a useful goal.  This is similar to the “War on Drugs”.  It is going to be never ending as there will always be terrorists because terrorism is a last resort tactic that anyone can do, just as drugs will always be sought out or produced because it makes people feel good (if only for a short time) and there is money to be made.  This banner is just that, something to rally around and not the true goal.

“context always matters in war”, “adrenaline is a killer if there is an open mic” – in regards to difficult decisions that soldiers must make and in reference to the killing of reporters in Iraq by an American Army helicopter (link).
Context, context, context.  This word couldn’t be more important when you try to make judgments on life.  Perspective, the time of day, life or death, time frame, people, children, all of it matters when you pass judgment on others and their actions.  I don’t know how many times I am driving and someone will pull out in front of me or cut me off on the highway and I will feel a twinge of anger.  But why did they do it?  Maybe they are rushing to a game of gold they are late for.  Not good enough.  How about they are rushing to get to a meeting that could decide their career?  Getting closer but they probably could have planned better.  Maybe they are trying to get to the hospital to see be there for their pregnant wife, injured child or what not.  I think about these things while driving and seemingly stupid acts of driving occur but how many of them would I do in their context?  Not to say that makes it right or wrong but at least I can understand their thinking.  This isn’t to say that under the context, all decisions are forgivable.  Far from it.  But sometimes, sometimes it is and you should never forget it.

“if a state decides to do an action, the people should confront that action” – in regards to filming and releasing videos of the death penalty in action.
I couldn’t agree more.  If you condone an action you better be able to face the consequences as well as what performing the action entails.  Not that every action should be shared by all but I believe that you should have to bear some of the guilt / shame / joy / fear of anything you have a part of.

“you have the right to put out the best version of events that sources can give but you cannot lie” – in regards to journalistic integrity and releasing stories
This is something that I think about every time I watch the news.  What do these journalists actually know and what are they saying that is their spin, their little lies.  Do they know they are lying, to what extent?  What part of the story do they actually know and what part do they only think they know?  I think this quote really shows how journalists *should* act and I hope they do.

“All bad stuff comes out on Friday night”
Hmmm… Good to know. (Apparently newspapers are least read on Saturdays in case you were curious)

I tried taking a picture during the talk but it only turned out blurry so I’ll leave it out.

Fear Mongering and Terrorism – Where’s the Line?

In many of our definitions of terrorism, fear and the spread of fear takes a major role.  While I believe that fear, terror if you will, is a key element to the definition of terrorism, I think that other aspects of the definition are just as important.  What would distinguish a bully, a director of a horror film and other such normal people from the extremism of a terrorist using terrorist tactics?  I guess a better question could be: Are all people that employ terroristic tactics terrorists?  Do all terrorists use terroristic tactics?   Read more

The Hurt Locker’s Story

The Hurt Locker was an excellent film about a small explosive
ordinance disposal unit and the reactions to the constant stress of battle.  I asked my pen pal what he though about the film and which soldier in the unit he would probably identify with the most.  This is his response: Read more

A Fight for the Underdog: Bloody Sunday Movie Reflection

Terrorism is a hotly discussed subject, and a debated word to define.  The International Encyclopedia of Terrorism defines it as “the selective or indiscriminate use of violence in order to bring about political change by inducing fear” (Barnett 15). Any person or group of people can use this tactic on any other for whatever in the name of whatever political or social vision they have. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter – it all depends on whose side you are on.  Fairness is another thing many seek after. Fox News claims that its reports are “fair and balanced.” The United States promises its citizens the right to a “fair trial.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “fair” as “marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.” Therefore, any piece of work meant to persuade its audience to hold one point of view on an issue regarded as terrorism is innately unfair. Read more

Who’s the Terrorist, Now?: Munich Movie Reflection

At their very core, all films are orchestrated to sell tickets. Munich and Bloody Sunday are no different in this regard. However, when movies like these are released, it begs the question of whether there can be more to films than a temporary satiating of our senses or an escape from our environment. Is it possible to produce a film that both succeeds at the box office and sends the audience home more educated and richer for the experience? The simple answer is “yes,” but it would be irresponsible to leave it at that.  Films like Munich and Bloody Sunday both present the viewer with information concerning their respective historical events; however, the responsibility of discerning the demarcations between historical truth/context and cinematographic liberties still lies in the hands of the viewer. Read more

Don’t Be Naive: Green Zone movie reflection

The action/thriller war movie, Green Zone (Greengrass, 2010), roughly based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’ Imperial Life in the Emerald City, received many critical reviews. It was hailed as many things.  Some reviewers called it a failure, boring, cliché, frenetic, or director Greengrass’ “least satisfying work to date” (Bradshaw, 2010) and some saw it as hard-hitting, a knockout, persuasive, a “solid example of a political paranoia thriller,” and “an urgent piece of work” (Vognar, 2010)

No matter how you view director Paul Greengrass’ latest film, it is clear that it touches on many issues discussed in our class concerning war, the definition of terrorism, and the press…how it is a tool in the hands of both the mighty and the stricken.  Green Zone also addresses how one can define patriotism and the core of human nature that defines us all.  This paper analyzes the movie Green Zone and attempts to tackle the issues of war, terrorism, the media, truth, and the core of human existence. Read more

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.