Sunday, March 20, 2005

Must see DVD: Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception

We're pushing another BuzzFlash premium, Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception which BuzzFlash is offering on DVD. This is the third time we've alerted you to a BuzzFlash premium (Anais Mitchell's CD Hymns for the Exiled and Robert Kane Pappas' DVD Orwell Rolls In His Grave). We get no money from BuzzFlash, we don't know anyone at BuzzFlash.

We do visit BuzzFlash and think it's a great site and one that's taken over the old slogan ("Give us five minutes, we'll give you the world") that broadcast media long shoved aside. When we reviewed Anais Mitchell's excellent CD and Robert Kane Pappas' moving documentary, we got e-mails from people expressing their disappointment that they didn't have the funds to purchase either. We're not trying to guilt trip anyone.

We decided upfront not to review any TV offering on cable because a lot of our readers don't have cable. We only review broadcast TV (and realize that some remote areas may not get all broadcast signals). When we review movies on DVD (like the current series we're doing on Jane Fonda's comedy roles), we make a point to avoid video rental stores and instead check out various local libraries (campus and public) for what we review.

We're college students on a budget so we do understand the economic crunch many of you are in. (Usually in a far worse crunch than we are.) We understand that the economy sucks and finds a new way to suck each day. (Though we keep being told hope is just around the corner. That's got to be the longest corner anyone's ever driven around.)

We're not telling you "Go to BuzzFlash right now and buy this product! You're kids braces can wait!" But while providing you with reviews that hopefully everyone can utilize, we also think there are certain things that need highlighting.

In the case of Anais Mitchell, if you read the review but weren't able to buy the CD, you know about Anais now. You know about the topics she writes, you saw some of her lyrics, you heard about her album. You know a voice is out there commenting on reality.

In the case of Robert Kane Pappas' Orwell Rolls In His Grave, even if you weren't able to buy the DVD, you know some of the criticicsms and points he makes in his film. You know that film is out there. You could even request that your library purchase a copy of it.

Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception is another film you need to know about. This isn't "bad Fox 'News!'" Fox "News" is hideous. But they're far from alone.

And if you got your coverage of the start up of the war from domestic TV, you got seriously fucked up coverage. You didn't have to turn to Fox "News" for that because it was everywhere.
And this film examines that coverage.

It shows you how CNN broadcast one "reality" to American viewers and another to international viewers. You learn about how the embed process bonded reporters with the troops they traveled with and objectivity went out the window. Let's be really clear, reporters are supposed to cover what happens. You didn't see that.

Ashleigh Banfield was fired from MSNBC/NBC and it happened after a dry spell that appeared at the time to be imposed on her in retaliation for a speech she gave. (The Times chuckled about how she'd been "taken to the woodshed" for that speech by network honchos.) You get a sample of that speech in WMD.

What was Banfield's point? That you saw the bombs go off . . . from a great distance. It was fire power and shock and all that allowed for shock and jaw reporting. But you didn't see the damage of the bombs. You didn't see where they hit. The whole thing was like a video game with impressive explosions and no messy casualities to confront you with reality.

You get more in the film including footage of the attack on the the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. That includes footage that demonstrates there was no attack on a US tank that prompted the tank's firing at the hotel. But the hotel was occupied by unembbeded journalists.

Footage you didn't see on your TV. Including the bloody aftermath. And we don't mean, "You didn't see it on Fox!" We mean that you didn't see it anywhere.

Was it an accident as the Pentagon claims? If you haven't seen the footage you may believe it was. If you've seen the footage, you'll doubt that. The attacks on journalists in Iraq were not infrequent and Schechter's film explores that. The same topic that Eason Jordan spoke on at a conference. The topic that, when his remarks leaked out, he ended up leaving CNN over.

You'll learn about the silencing of dissent, the muzzling and manipulation of thought. This is an important film to see.

The film addresses the need to restore democracy to the airwaves. Is that a topic we shouldn't all be interested in?

There is strong footage and strong criticism in this film. And Schechter has a strong and steady touch throughout. With most of us hungover from too much infotainment and not enough real news, Schechter wisely decides to start the film presenting himself as a dazed victim of shock and jaw. It's a wonderful decision to open the film and engage the viewer.

It's a film you need to share with friends and pass on. If you're unable to purchase the film, we think it's still one you should be aware is out there. Something to toss in at the mythical water cooler, if nothing else. But if you're able to afford the DVD, this is one you should check out.
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