Friday, September 21, 2012

Post #346 - Not All Exposes are Morally Uplifting

Watch this video and then come back to this page for my reaction:

Okay, you've watched Anthony Lawson's video presentation.  Lawson describes himself as a "retired commercials director, cameraman, editor, writer and advertising agency creative director," and says that his hope is to "use what I've learned during my working life to try and give back something of value to a world which could be so beautiful, but which is being despoiled by the greed of those for whom sufficient is never enough."  He casts himself, therefore, as a friend of the "good" people and opponent of the selfish bad actors in the world.

The title of his video -- "Iran-Bashing, Terrorism and Who Chose the Chosen People Anyway" -- is telling in that his agenda is not a simple one.  He is addressing the way Iran is being treated by the West, he is discussing various kinds of brutal actions (acknowledged or alleged), and he is focusing strongly on the influence of one nation, Israel -- more specifically, Zionists.

How much truth is there in what he says?  Are there elements that ought to give one pause?  Most of the bare factual details are hard to fault him on.  Clearly, a lot has been thrown at the Irainians' wall that frankly does not stick -- the "wiping Israel off the map" quote, which is endlessly recycled to maximum effect; the charge that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons (when stated as a fact, rather than as a fear or a guess); these are but two examples.

But the video is not just a presentation of historical fact; it is a admixture of verifiable truth and much more subjective evaluative statements.  For example, there is a vast difference between saying that AIPAC is extremely influential in the United States, and saying that the Israel lobby "largely controls" the United States -- the first is undeniably true, the second is a conclusion based on a highly complex set of realities.

Stylistically, one can scarcely ignore the demagogic habits of expression that Lawson employs when he repeatedly appends emotionally-loaded adjectives (such as in "nuclear Zionist Israel"), or when he terms Donald Rumsfeld and John R. Bolton "Zionists."

The liberties Lawson takes are nowhere more evident than in this assertion:  "If it is unlawful for 250 million Europeans to question details of the Holocaust, it must mean there are some things that the Zionists do not want the un-chosen people to know."  Need I say more about that baldly illogical syllogism?

Additionally, is the presentation fair and balanced when it comes to its treatment of religious faith?  One can certainly object to the injection of religious revelation into public policy decision-making.  To go the extra step to characterize biblical or theological interpretations as "claptrap" and "mythology" bespeaks an militantly atheist world-view that can actually make dialogue and fact-finding more difficult, rather than more productive.

Lastly, have tricks of a technical nature been used to allow Lawson to make his case more powerfully?  A case in point would be his comparison of two sets of security camera stills that show persons alleged to have committed terrorist acts.  He urges the viewer to notice a "similarity" between them.  One must stop a moment and ask two questions:  Is there actually any unusual similarity? (could you pick any of them out of a line-up if they weren't with the others?), and What does it mean if there is?  The photos are clipped and superimposed (how did Lawson choose which image to place where?)  as though to imply a link between the two incidents, or perhaps that the individuals were the same persons -- in fact, what he is implying is (I believe) purposely ambiguous.  He has made his point through sleight-of-hand and innuendo. (I urge the reader to go back and see for himself what impression the raw images make on one, absent Lawson's voice-over.)

My conclusion is that this video producer has created a lamentably flawed work.  His video takes some important and worrisome facts about the recent conflict between Iran and the West, and between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, and combines them with his own often-questionable connecting-of-dots in order to render them more damning of the video's targets.  My problem with it is that it may allow savvy and skeptical viewers to dismiss the substance, because the messenger himself is of dubious intent. One could almost say, "by way of deception, thou shall make popular videos" -- but not necessarily contribute to the cause of Truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment