Friday, August 04, 2006

The War Tapes

I just came back from seeing The War Tapes at the Belcourt Theater.

It's a compilation of footage taken from camcorders given to members of a company in the New Hampshire National Guard deployed to Iraq.

Present was one of the film makers, Specialist Brandon Wilkins, there to answer questions at the end of the screening. It was totally amazing. His demeanor and his answers to questions seemed to have little to do with what we just watched. I got to ask him two questions. I wanted to ask him many more. I was one of the first to get to ask a question. At the beginning of the film, one of the "cast members" and photographers, Michael Moriarty, said that 9/11 caused him to want to be deployed to Iraq. He specifically said that he wanted to be deployed to Iraq because of 9/11. He said because of 9/11, he wanted to be deployed for war, but only if he could go to Iraq.

The question I asked was, "At the beginning of the film, Mike Moriarty said that he wanted to be deployed to Iraq because of 9/11. Do you think this means that he believed that Iraq or Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11?"

The answer was that he just wanted to be part of the military action.

I asked, "Just any military action? He just wanted to go to war somewhere?"

The answer was that he wanted to be part of the overall action.

Well, um, he specifically said Iraq. And he specifically said because of 9/11.

At the end of the film Mike Moriarty was singing a different tune. He kept repeating the "O" word, oil. He also made it very clear, repeatedly, that he never wanted to go back. It was someone else's turn.

Anyway, there were other questions, and it seemed that Specialist Wilkins was there to toe the party line on Iraq and not to seriously answer serious questions. When asked if he thinks that America is safer because of the war, his answer was that it obviously was. Saddam was a bad guy. He repeated the mantra that Iraq is now free and the people don't have to live in fear. That's when my hand shot up and I had to ask him another question.

I asked, "You say that the Iraqis don't have to live in fear anymore, but what about the sectarian violence, the semi-civil war? Don't people have to live in fear of being killed over any number of things?" People could be blown up at any minute in a market place. They are targeted for execution for trying to work in the Iraqi Police or the Iraqi National Guard. Dozens of people at a time are lined up and executed with their hands behind their back. This stuff happens all the time in Iraq. And this guy is trying to tell us that these people don't live in fear? I couldn't believe it.

One guy could. When I asked my first question, this guy in the seat in front of me turned around and said, "You'e got to be kidding." I just looked at him, super pissed, and said, "That's exactly what he said in the movie." Then after my second question he turned around to me and said, "Oh, come on." I looked at him and just said, "Death Squads, dude."

I tried to keep my questions apolitical, and I think they were. Others, not so much.

Some guy started bringing up all the liberal media and CNN. The one that took the cake, though, was Chris Lugo. He stood up wearing a dirty grey t-shirt stretched across his huge belly, with his huge ratty beard and dreadlocks and identified himself. "I'm Chris Lugo, the Green Party candidate for Senate in Tennessee." He then proceeded to ask a question that was so ridiculous and not-so-well thought out that even Wilkins couldn't take him seriously. I can't even remember what it was.

This was truly depressing to me.

Is this all there is? This is the only antiwar candidate we can muster? A college dropout who loves his hairdresser for starting his dreads for him? My girlfriend said that maybe she should run since this guy can. I said that she'd likely get more votes.

In the end, I say GO SEE THIS MOVIE. I think everyone should see this. It's quite real. The soldiers constantly complain about KBR/Halliburton. They are shot at A LOT. Crazy stuff was happening all the time in Iraq. Most of the shots of Iraq were actually quite depressing.

Everyone should also see the Discovery Channel's series "Off to War," which chronicled the lives of members of the Arkansas National Guard, most of whom said they got a raw deal. They said that going to war in a foreign country is not what they signed up for. It really wasn't. That was another question I wanted to ask. None of these men ever mentioned the fact that they were in the National Guard and they were being deployed to a foreign country. They never gave their opinion on that in The War Tapes.

My take home message is to go see this film and try to make sure you go to a screening where someone is there to answer questions. Hopefully, it won't be someone so "on message."


Blogger Lazaro74 said...

I'll see if I can track it down; I actually know a guy in the Michigan National Guard who's going over there in September... :(

8/07/2006 2:22 PM  

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