Monday, April 18, 2016

Eye in the Sky and the State of Movies Created by Our Courtier Class

"Aching, nobly, to wade through the blood of savages." —James Baldwin

I had the unfortunate luck of having to go and see Eye in the Sky, an entertaining movie that fell short in many other, non-dramatic, respects. I shouldn't be so crass. It wasn't so unfortunate. It's always good to have a look at what people (and most critics) think of as a well thought out movie. It gives me a chance to hone my own disgust for such views. 

As you can tell, I've been on a little bit of a roll lately, writing about people out there in the zeitgeist who annoy me with their, at best, suburban ideologies infecting the soundscape. This movie only adds to that noise. Touted as a movie that,

"asks us to judge the proper balance between liberty and security

I was hoping that it would at least try to move away from the blatant propaganda we all too often see these days. [1] Yes, this includes the stuff coming out of the "center-left", which usually only rises to the level of lip-biting while continuing with the murder of darkies.

I should be kinder. On one level, this movie at least tries to ratchet up the tension. It does so in a myriad of ways, though in the end, even this plays into the hands of those who wage war for their own profit. When, I ask you, has there ever been presented an iota of evidence that we have ever taken such precautions in a drone strike? All available independent evidence points to that fact that we don't. Strikes aren't based on in-depth intel, but rather metadata. And the method of finding out who is killed afterward isn't meticulous either. It's merely a body count = enemies [2].

The rest of the movie is much the same. It frames the question of drone strikes as those who stand to benefit from it do: as if the only thing to consider are the immediate cost benefit analysis of one person killed now versus 100 later. [3] Again, if life were so simple we would have won this war, wouldn't we? But we haven't and those in charge keep filling us up with fear so that we can open our wallets to more of the same. [4] 

It doesn't stop there, the movie plays to the trope of our dear leaders all so concerned over the life of one darkie far away from home. Crocodile tears, these [5]. Yet in the film we're made to believe that every drone strike is a matter of stress upon these dear caretakers of ours. Right. 

The less said about the entire premise of the film, the better. Essentially ignoring the vast majority of drone strikes, the film decides to pick a scenario that has yet to happen (that we know of, of course) and raise questions that don't matter to this entire war. To say nothing of using it to minimize real moral quandaries and only look at drones in a way that flatters those in charge. 

Adding to my disgust, the only time there is an argument against using drones is when one "brave " [6] soul questions some legal aspect of killing via a drone strike, or mentions that this could be used as propaganda against them. Oh, poor protectors of the realm, if only people weren't so irrational. 

That this counts as a deep film to our media is not a surprise. But I sometimes wonder if they actually think of such movies as deep reflections on the matter at hand. Even in the world of literature, the few books I've read from the center left seem to at best merely pause for some sad reflection before marching forward all crusade-like.  Times like these I wonder if I'm missing something. But I'm not. It's the same thing over and over. And at the end of the movie we even get some chest-thumping 

"Don't ever tell a soldier that he doesn't know the cost of war

from our general to the one voice against the attack [7] as if to say, those soft-headed bleeding hearts, what do they know about this rational cost-analysis? (I would refer the general to the Baldwin quote)

And even my favorite magazine, the LRB, had a puff piece on drones. This piece went about slaying so many straw men, that it almost had me fooled. So why does our courtier class find it so necessary to create odes and excuses for those in power? As Orwell said, they love power and find a need to side with it rather than the facts. It's just sad to see it paraded as serious. 

I take back my initial statement. This is very much like Triumph of the Will, but for a new age where the movie expects their audience to be a little smarter than your average TV watcher and thus a few seconds of serious reflection are called for. Go ahead and watch it, if only for a master class in subtle propaganda.

Update: Let me add a couple notes. As a friend of mine said, the movie, unlike many others, did try to portray the collateral damage as a whole, innocent, person and not some faceless victim (or not a victim at all). That should be mentioned and it's a step ahead of what most movies portray. Second, the portrait of the insurgents in the end showed at least a little bit of humanity. Something that's also missing from many other movies.

That being said, the amount of people who think of this movie as worthwhile is high. Look here

[1] None of this rises to the level of Triumph of the Will, but that's only because it's smarter than that.      

[2] Only those proven to be anything else are not considered militants, while those who are killed nearby are deemed guilty by proximity. Yup, that's our brilliant accounting on the matter. 

[3] Let's not even look at how hypocritical this "surgical" view is. Such people would never want this logic applied to them, and for good reason. Again, suburban ideology at its best. 

[4] Again, this is the wont to kill (sand)niggers as much as possible. I'm again reminded of James Baldwin's quote "Aching nobly to wade through the blood of savages". That genius really knew his fellow citizens, did he not?

[5] And there's not an iota of evidence for this. Our leaders care when we make them care. Period. Their disdain for the peace movement and any attempt at dialogue only proves those tears false. 

[6] Portrayed here as the least caring of the lot. How fitting. 

[7] all the other voices are portrayed as sniveling cowards, afraid of consequences and of making that decision. 

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