(2007) dir. Loretta Alper, Jeremy Earp
War Made Easy, and its cumbersome subtitle How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, is not one of the better films about the Iraq conflict. The ideas are there, and many of the things said have great significance, but the film itself is very weak, cobbling together snippet after snippet of soundbytes and talking heads of pundits and politicians from the major television news sources. Really, it’s not purely about the Iraq war or the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, but about the way that the government and the media manipulate information and access of information about the events to sway and attract public opinion.
It’s kind of like Noam Chomsky lite.
The film is adapted from a book of the same name by Norman Solomon, who is the sole interviewee for the film. Solomon’s ideas and critiques are interesting and compelling. But the format of this film lacks the self-awareness necessary to truly communicate the complexity of objective information.
The film itself is a disseminator of ideas. And by cobbling together the soundbytes as it does, the film in many ways creates a similar fallacy that it is critiquing the media of. Solomon describes the manipulation of information, the lack of hard, independent reporting even in media outlets that are considered to be “liberal”, like CNN. I mean, it’s scary, really, if you think about the state of “news media”. The newspaper is dying quickly, struggling to move online in a viable way, but hundreds, if not thousands, have folded or have cut back on reporting. Television media has fallen prey to not just military manipulation but public perception and media backers. They’ve tried to alter the format of news dissemination to make it “entertainment”.
Almost everyone I know (besides myself) gets their news from NPR or web resources. Or even from English reporting, which has yet to decline the way that American news has. Of course, the web and blogging has become the new forum and format. Media and knowledge and the control of information. This film really made me think of Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), which was my first exposure to the breadth of Chomsky’s thoughts.
The bottom line about this film is that it’s not the best way to access these valuable thoughts and ideas. Perhaps Norman Solomon’s book is a better starting point, or other such books, blogs, information. Ultimately it’s the ideas that are important. Facts should be supported by proof or data. The rest are the “known unknowns” and the “unknown unkowns”.