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Lions for Lambs

By awalkingshadow Oct 24, 2008 943 Words
The seemingly unending wars in the Middle East have sparked much controversy. When Bush announced the War on Iraq (which is often confused with the War on Terror); a quarter of a million people protested by marching in Washington. However, most, were intoxicated by the political propoganda, believing that the protestors were in fact supporting terrorism. Contrary to the majority opinion, Lion for Lambs is composed of three individual storylines, hoping to expose the truth of America’s current political stance but just fallin short to allow space for the liberal judgement of the audience .

American politicians’ penchant to control mass media is not a shocking revelation. Jasper Irving, a Senator in Lions for Lambs is no exception. When “the future of the Republican Party” calls on TV journalist Janine to discuss a timeline for the War on Terror, it is merely a pretext for selling his “real story” (his new military strategy in Afghanistan) to Janine (the TV network). Although the interview was originally requested for the Senator’s own purposes, the conversation eventually progresses into an entertaining ping pong match between the journalist and the Senator about politics and policy. Janine is incisive in delving deeper into Irving’s sugar coated words. In response to “…whoever takes the high ground has the ability to observe, prerogative to attack and the oppurtunity to preside,” Janine concludes the whole matter by asking, “So we’re going to be there for good?” in which the Senator only smiles and says “I said constant presence, not permanent”. For Afghanistan, there is only a fine difference between the two.

While Meryl Street embodies an entirely fictional TV journalist, she raises many pertinent questions about America’s present political stance (the war in Iraq and other wars in the Middle Eat). Perhaps most people are aware that (thanks to the mass media) “Sadaam violated 16 UN resolutions while America… all the while France, China and Russia continued to trade with Sadaam under the table” but may not be aware that America was also there to “arm him in the 80s”. Despite the fact that Irving is an oratorical senator, Janine’s incessant speculative questions of “And why does the President insist on spending billions on subs, fighter planes that are completely useless in this kind of war?”, “Why are we sending 150 000 troops to a country that did not attack us?” not only underscores the faults in military strategies, but discloses the manipulative face of politicians. The credibility of politicians is questioned further when the Senator comments “What I can say is this strategy (the one in Afghanistan) has patience and determination at its core. It ensures … and kill the enemy so that we can go about rebuilding the country”, blatantly simplifying the concept of disaster capitalism or more plainly , making money out of misery.

Despite Janine Roth’s opposition to political propoganda, she is not completely immune from it due to the nature of her network. Janine Roth and her network are model representations for the numerous privatised media networks in America, questioning the operations and values of these networks; Is the media more interested in reporting sex scandals of celebrities as opposed to new political policies? Although thousands may be dieing all over the world, isn’t the new mobile more worthy to be reported? Irving is right in saying, “Janine, we both put our fighting men at risk.” It is not only safe but more accurate to say that politicians are not the only ones that have allowed America to invade the Middle East and caused America an economical loss of billiions of dollars (although their position as forerunner in this movement is undeniable).

While the media may be another culprit to blame, it is difficult to erase the responsibility that the public had (and still has) in allowing America to invade Iraq. Although much of the media has been overwhelmed by corporations, the corporate revolution would not have prospered if we had refused to buy what they sold: scandals of celebrities stretching over magazines the lies, selected truths, exaggerations of politics disseminated in newspapers. Instead of worrying about the costs involved in war, American citizens will be much more inclined to ludicrous entertainment reports such as “ It was recorded that Pop Star fate had asked a Tokyo bus driver, ‘How long was the bus ride from Tokyo to Beijing?’”. The emphasis of the foolishness in such reports implies that the burgeoning entertainment industry not only is likely to stay, but may cloud more dire matters.

Camera techniques and music are two main factors that have been conflated with the purpose of allowing the political discourse to establish an appearance of reality but falling short of enforcing its perspective onto the audience. The quick tempo of the main track in Lions for Lambs heightens the sense of danger of the new military strategy but does not directly state this danger through any of its characters. Zoom-ins of articles framed in Irving's wall help Janine to realise her personal involvement in the creation of political propoganda. The scenes with two soldiers struggling to protect themselves against the Taliban grants the audience permission to judge for themselves whether the war is futile or heroic. Anecdotes on the Vietnam war told to an emotionally detached university student by a university teacher does not impose its subjective views on the audience but rather, aids the audience with the necessary and often censored knowledge on war, politics as well as policy. Lions for Lambs successfully exposes the mendacious political campaigns, condemns the media and warns the audience of their involvement in shaping the world today.

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