6 - Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
A 'Dirt,' disturbing look
at America s wars
By BRIAN BURLAGE
So muchgoes intowar- into the
strategy, the pursuit, the sacrifice
- that sometimes it's difficult too
tell exactly what_
comes out. War
and no single Dirty Wars
is the same. At the
Among such Michigan
enormous Sundance Selects*
emerges: How much of the war
effort, either moral or immoral,
Jeremy Scahill, who produced
and wrote the film (based on his.
own book "Dirty Wars: The World
Is a Battlefield"), examines the
immoral, secretive decisions made
by the American government in Documentary hopes to shed lighton recent conflicts.
regard to the Iraq War. Scahill, a
renowned investigative journalist Laden, is also investigated. - along with bits of gruesome
for The Nation, travels to Scahill portrays al-Awlaki as a images, war footage and
Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia figure of former peace with no news reports - the story of
to expose the suffering of civilian bitterness toward the United America as the world's war
casualties and their families. States. With a montage mix master unfolds. Our War on
While in Afghanistan, of conflicting imagery, Scahill Terror in the Middle East has
he follows the Joint Special shows how after a series of U.S. become a War of Terror. Sects
Operations Command before attacks against innocent civilians, of government radicals in
their infamous Osama Bin Laden al-Awlaki converted himself countries around the world have
mission and their subsequent and rose through the ranks of united in their hatred against
ascension into military celebrity. the radicals, seeking a bloody the United States and its unjust
In fact, before the Bin Laden vengeance against the United might. The truly unnerving fact
mission, any information aboutthe States. He was eventually killed that surfaces in "Dirty Wars"
JSOC was completely inaccessible. by a military-sanctioned drone is the fundamental, ineffable
Nothing about the funding, size, attack. But the problem didn't monster of hatred brewing in
methods or objectives could be end there. Anwar al-Awlaki's the East. For many frustrated
traced. Scahill argues that the son, a 16-year-old born in Denver, foreign civilians and warlords,
JSOC has been bred to murder, was killed in an atack in 2011. the United States is the great
abduct and terrorize like a unit of While some Americans may not terror.
lawless barbarians. But instead be moved by the death of Anwar, But the film falls short
of explaining the usefujlbenefit bill armr,- they shou d- method of expression.
of keeping s*me governm e; thnly b s son's Scahils storytelling
programs secret, even the bene ts murder. Otherwise, e continues, techniques are cheesy, if not
that might correlate directly to the dispassion to the suffering of overdone. Cinematic music and
War on Terror, Scahill ends his innocent foreign civilians has cliched sound effects, flashy
analysis. come to rule our culture. transitions and an overall air
The assassination of Anwar Through several candid of conceitedness take away
al-Awlaki, the successor of Bin interviews with Iraqi warlords from the true drama being
for fine arts?
SUNDANCE SEL ECTS5
documented in the film. The
argument itself is convincing,
but the expression of the
argument leaves room to be
desired. It's as though all of
Scahill's research and efforts
to explain the war situation
were done merely to appease a
Hollywood audience. And so the
motive seems shaky. He makes
promises, exposes perturbing
secrets, shares the anger of
real citizens, but only for what
seems to be the purpose of self-
Regardless of Scahill's
"Dirty Wars" provides a
disturbing view into the realm
of secret American war efforts.
With so great a risk, morals
must be stretched. Rules
broken. Sacrifices made. But
when all is said and done and
history takes a finer look at the
struggle, it would seem that
only secrets await, hibernating
quietly beneath the rubble.
veryone is talking about
the Emmys. Some are
concerned it was full
of melancholy; some are still
wondering why Jeff Daniels won
Best Actor in
a Drama. But
last night I
no matter ANNA
if terrible S MYA
leave a distinct mark on society.
For film, it's the Academy
Awards; for music, the Grammys
award the elite. Musicals live
and die by the Tonys and modern
art has ... not many people really
Has there ever been a time
when the fine arts have been
applauded and awarded on such
a mass scale as film or television?
Have millions of viewers
tuned in to watch painters,
photographers, poets or pianists
accept accolades from peers and
In short, the answer is
of course not. Fine arts are,
unfortunately, not universal
enough to draw in the
same crowd - not enough
people follow the works of
contemporary artists to have an
award show that could carry as
much weight and authority.
And, regrettably, it makes
sense. The feelingI get after
I watch a particularly great
piece of film is so distinct and
powerful, it rarely compares to
anything a painting can evoke.
Watching a master violinist
perform Stravinsky's Violin
Concerto in D is awesome in that
I could never recreate it, and so I
stare transfixed at the artist.
But with albums, film and TV,
the concept is simple: Create
a piece of art that will allow
the viewer or listener to feel
they've experienced the emotion
portrayed. Without that critical
connection, all would be lost.
The reason people enjoy going
to the movies isto understand
characters. Whether through
complex thought, through
dramatic storytelling or through
comedy interlude, the underlying
goal is to achieve mutual
appreciation and recognition
between storyteller and listener.
Plots vary vastly - very few
people watch "Homeland"
because they've been in either
Carrie Mathison's or Nicholas
Brody's shoes. In fact, because
TV is often an escape from
reality, whether or not shows
perfectly complement the
general population's lifestyles is
irrelevant - what matters is the
underlying emotion. Everyone
has felt fear, uncertainty and the
tugging pull of indecision. This
is what draws people in.
It's no wonder audiences
want to celebrate the
amazing performances put
on by people - it's a way of
acknowledging how real and
complicated human emotion is.
TV gets the
gets the Oscars,
Picasso gets ... ?
It's not thatthe finer arts are
stagnate and touched out from
daily life. Plenty of contemporary
artistsbeautifully depict reality
through a lens or apaintbrush.
Rather, it's that there is no
exchange of information between
artist andviewer. Sprawling
behemoths, films, TV shows
and albums are thousands of
paintings, photos and violin
performances put into one,
unifying piece of art. It's the
constant movement and flow
of art that allows people of all
backgrounds and experiences to
appreciate and understand it.
Sadly, this truth would leave
any potential fine-art award show
with a small crowd and little
national, widespread coverage.
Fine and visual art don't
hold the same appeal. Whether
photographs can incite fear or
sadness, they're still a snapshot
of an otherwise constantly
changing world. Paintings don't
interact with their viewer. Piano
concertos can't captivate the
same waysangsty lyrics can. In
their own way, the fine arts are
more showpieces - accolades of
their own accord, achieved only
by the craftiest of craftsmen.
Sadovskaya is hosting her
own awards show. To watch,
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