All too often, the phrase "corporate free press" is something of an oxymoron. Whether to maximise sales, to attract advertisers, or simply to promote the interests of their wealthy owners, the mass media open strange, self-serving and grossly distorted windows onto the world.
This website is another window. Here you'll find documentaries, lectures and interviews following a different editorial line.
Taxi to the Dark Side is an excellent documentary charting the recent history of the US Governments use of torture. I hadn’t realised that a high level legal adviser to the President, John Yoo, went as far as publicly arguing that “there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.” Rationality gone mad – his name has gone on my list of people whose testicles do need crushing.
As a side note, I enjoyed Stephen Kings recent comments on the debate as to whether waterboarding is torture or not “if the Bush administration didn’t think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George. I said, I didn’t think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture.”
“This is dedicated to two people who are no longer with us, Dilawar, the young Afghan taxi driver, and my father, a navy interrogator who urged me to make this film because of his fury about what was being done to the rule of law. Let’s hope we can turn this country around, move away from the dark side and back to the light.” Alex Gibney, Director, Academy Award acceptance speech.
A bizarre but compelling examination of humour in the Third Reich (58 mins). At first this was tolerated, and even encouraged – back then, no-one took the Nazis too seriously, and the more people were snickering the less they were rising up – but as the war drew on jokes became a channel for subversive informationand dissent, and by the end laughter out of turn was cracked down upon severely.
An important short documentary (24 mins), made shortly before the emergency, on the disappearances in Pakistan. Pakistan, like most military dictatorships, has a pretty terrible human rights record, but the state kidnappings of The War Against Terror are a disturbing new development.
Released just as Tony Blair was leaving office, this film documents his ten-year war against civil liberties, begun as a way of protecting businesses from ‘harrassment’ but dramatically escalated as part of The War Against Terror.
I had a few things lined up to go with this film, but decided they detracted from the seriousness of the issue. However, the soundtrack is ace, and that last song deserves reposting in its entirety without being talked over. So here, for your listening pleasure, is Jarvis with Running The World.
Today, Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is attempting to kick off impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick “DarthVader” Cheney, through the use of what’s called a priveleged resolution. The charges one could bring against Cheney are legion, and polls show that 54% of Americans want to see him impeached (the idea of impeaching President Bush, is slightly less popular, at 45%, but that’s still more than ever wanted to impeach Nixon).
This PBS documentary (56 mins) charts some of Cheney’s struggles for greater power, pitting the White House against Congress and the Department of Justice in particular.
This special report (52 mins) from 2004 sees John Pilger explode the War On Terror myth with revealing interviews and shocking coverage of warzones. The segments on Afghanistan are particularly illuminating – especially if we bear in mind that, eclipsed by the disaster that is Iraq, the violence has only been escalated there since this film was made – and it’s also the source for that “pre-fascist” quote.
This documentary (50 mins) revisits the infamous 1970 experiment in which the Psychology Department of Stanford University recreated a prison environment, staffed and inhabited solely by healthy students with no history of mental imbalance.
The resulting brutality shows that, quite apart from bizzare individual pathologies, acts of great evil can come simply from people trying to conform to a role – as borne out by the recent experiences of occupying forces in Iraq and Gaza.
Reconstructing Iraq, apparently, is a job for Bechtel, Halliburton and other firms grown rich from burning the Third World’s money. Private data extraction specialists were behind some of the worst atrocities of Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and the mercenaries of Blackwater are literally making a killing. The number of contractors like these in Iraq has been growing since the outset of hostilities, and has now overtaken that of regular troops.
Iraq For Sale
This Robert Greenwald film (76 mins) views the problem very much through a “Support The Troops” lens, but is nevertheless a shocking and highly informative exposé.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Private Army
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill talks about everyone’s favourite mercenaries in this interview (41 mins) for Democracy Now.
How do you get inside an arms dealers’ convention to stare at the torturers and murderers of the world’s nastiest regimes? If you’re comedian Mark Thomas, you set up a small, specialist PR company and offer them free media training workshops – getting some groundbreaking confessions along the way. Comedy with an edge (about 40 mins; h/t Heathlander, the latest target of Bill O’Reilly’s unfocused rage)