Balkinization  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Taxi to the Dark Side: Monday at 9 p.m.

Scott Horton




One of the major breakthroughs of the first McCain-Obama debate on Friday night passed with almost no notice. Both John McCain and Barack Obama, in characterizing their opposition to the Bush Administration’s interrogation program, called it torture. To those who have tracked this question with any care, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Bush Administration pursued torture as a matter of policy. However, ferocious blowback from the Administration has up to this point intimidated the American media from calling things by proper names. As the Bush Administration now enters into its final meltdown, the perfect time has come to examine the moral corruption that has long festered right under the surface of what passes for national security policy.

On Monday evening at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), 8 p.m. (CT), HBO premiers this year’s Oscar-winning documentary, “Taxi to the Dark Side,” in which I appear. Don’t miss it. Here’s a recent interview of producer Alex Gibney with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in which Alex explains why the issues treated in “Taxi” are current and will only grow in relevance in the coming months:


Comments:

It is difficult to tell whether "Taxi to the Dark Side" or the embedded MSNBC segment covering "Taxi to the Dark Side" drew the most disinterest and fewest viewers from the American public. For some reason, anti-war propaganda has not been selling.
 

Just lots of good germans I guess. It'll change.
Best,
Ben
 

"Bart" DeMakesThingsUp:

It is difficult to tell whether "Taxi to the Dark Side" or the embedded MSNBC segment covering "Taxi to the Dark Side" drew the most disinterest and fewest viewers from the American public.

Certainly more so when the affiant provides no data or cites for his claim[s].

Cheers,
 

arne:

The Washington Post published an article last March reporting on the American public's utter rejection of the slew of anti-war films Hollywood inflicted on them, with this aside on "Taxi:"

Documentaries chronicling the war have been among the best-reviewed films of the past few years, but they, too, have struggled commercially. One example: "Taxi to the Dark Side," which in February won the Oscar for Best Documentary for its exploration of torture in Iraq and Afghanistan, has earned about $180,000 since its release, or roughly what "Spider-Man 3" took in at a couple of multiplexes during its opening weekend. Another acclaimed doc of 2007, "No End in Sight," earned a modest $1.4 million. (The gigantic exception in this category is, of course, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which is the highest-grossing documentary ever; it has generated $222.4 million in ticket sales worldwide since its release in mid-2004.)

As for the Obama media arm known as MSNBC, here are some recent results from that ratings cellar dweller. Maddow's foundering propaganda show is a far left afterthought below Reilly and Cooper, but does manage to beat HLN's Entertainment Tonight.

Must be the fault of all those "Good Germans" in the movie and TV audiences rather than a rejection of partisan propaganda.
 

Bart, as usual, is a stream of distorted insights. "Taxi to the Dark Side" was prepared as a documentary for broadcast on cable television. It has its premiere tomorrow evening and DVD sales will begin in a week. As is typical for documentaries (the Moore pieces being the major exception), it never had a systematic theatrical release, although it was shown in a series of cinemas around the country, mostly for college audiences and in connection with discussion panels. "Taxi to the Dark Side" is also not an "anti-war" film. It builds around the story of an Afghan taxi driver who was murdered while in US detention. I worked on this project and know most of the editors and staff who did. I am not aware that any of them oppose the war in Afghanistan, and there is certainly no sign of that in the documentary. My own criticism of the effort in Afghanistan has been plainly expressed for several years: there has been an inadequate commitment of troops and resources to perform the mission, with the result that the project in Afghanistan is now dangerously teetering on the edge of failure. (The same criticism has been made by both Senator McCain and Senator Obama, by the way). This is why the White House is withholding release of a summary of the National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan. As usual, Bart thinks he knows something and forms his impressions without actually seeing the documentary or trying to understand it. As usual, he's completely wrong on both observations, but equally unshakable in his beliefs. Bart exemplifies perfectly the mentality that has brought our country to its current impasse; he's a card-carrying member of that 19% base.
 

Another interesting thing about the theater release of this film was that the original poster, which is shown here, was rejected by the MPAA. The reason?
It was "unsuitable for all audiences".
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/19/mpaa-taxi-poster/
 

i'm bart depalma and i endorse this film.

you're either with us or against us.
 

Mr. Horton:

What precisely is there to understand? "Taxi To The Darkside" employs the classic propaganda technique of starting with a grain of truth to sell a big lie. To wit, "Taxi" takes a extreme war crime - the torture death of Dilawar - and then the lesser war crimes at Abu Ghraib to make the utterly false implication contrary to all evidence that these war crimes were US policy and these practices were widespread.

You criticize my use of the term "anti-war" to describe the intent of the makers of this film. I am making an assumption that a film which is functionally indistinguishable from training manual al Qaeda propaganda (Lesson 18) shares the purpose of such al Qaeda propaganda - to damage our war effort.
 

I am making an assumption that a film which is functionally indistinguishable from training manual al Qaeda propaganda (Lesson 18) shares the purpose of such al Qaeda propaganda - to damage our war effort.

Bart, when you assume, you make an ass of U & me. Isn't it queer, your belief that people--the makers of this film--who would hold our government to a higher moral standard have as their goal the undermining of our project in Afghanistan? You can read Scott Horton's words, but you cannot understand them. Pity.
 

Bart says, "Taxi To The Darkside" employs the classic propaganda technique of starting with a grain of truth to sell a big lie. To wit, "Taxi" takes a extreme war crime - the torture death of Dilawar - and then the lesser war crimes at Abu Ghraib to make the utterly false implication contrary to all evidence that these war crimes were US policy and these practices were widespread."

Of course, we don't know that "these war crimes were" NOT "US policy," Bart's assertion notwithstanding. In fact, we have heard of enough cases, beyond this particular murder and the egregious acts at Abu Ghraib, to draw a very rational inference that such acts were, in fact, US policy. Certainly, if they were not officially prescribed US policy, they were implicit US policy to the degree they were not explicitly proscribed, or to the degree that swift, decisive punishment of those engaged in such acts was withheld. However, the revelations of discussions in the White House of the use of torture can suggest nothing other than that torture was official policy.

That aside, however, Bart ignores that the entire enterprise in which these acts occurred--our unjustified aggression in the middle east--is an ongoing war crime.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

What precisely is there to understand? "Taxi To The Darkside" employs the classic propaganda technique of starting with a grain of truth to sell a big lie.

JOOC, "Bart": Have you actually seen the film?

If you haven't, perhaps it's rather obvious what there is to actually "understand" ... for you.

Cheers,
 

Bart writes:
It is difficult to tell whether "Taxi to the Dark Side" or the embedded MSNBC segment covering "Taxi to the Dark Side" drew the most disinterest and fewest viewers from the American public. For some reason, anti-war propaganda has not been selling.


This is an interesting critique, how, exactly? That's all you have to offer?

Oh no, wait: "Taxi To The Darkside" employs the classic propaganda technique of starting with a grain of truth to sell a big lie.

You're projecting again. Can't you do that elsewhere?
 

Now that you watched it, "Bart", care to explain how:

"'Taxi To The Darkside' employs the classic propaganda technique of starting with a grain of truth to sell a big lie. To wit, 'Taxi' takes a extreme war crime - the torture death of Dilawar - and then the lesser war crimes at Abu Ghraib to make the utterly false implication contrary to all evidence that these war crimes were US policy and these practices were widespread."

Be specific now.

And kudos to Scott Horton for helping in getting the truth out.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Well, now that you've seen the movie, can you now eludidate on some particulars as to how "'Taxi To The Darkside' employs the classic propaganda technique of starting with a grain of truth to sell a big lie. To wit, 'Taxi' takes a extreme war crime - the torture death of Dilawar - and then the lesser war crimes at Abu Ghraib to make the utterly false implication contrary to all evidence that these war crimes were US policy and these practices were widespread."

Be specific now. Thanks in advance.

Be sure to include in your analysis the admitted conferences within the highest ranks of the maladministration on torture.

And note also that the very techniques covered at length in "Taxi To The Dark Side" were precisely the techniques approved by Rumsfeld. As the movie points out, pretty much every technique 'used' (and photographed) in Abu Ghraib was an echo of these procedures.

Cheers,
 

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