Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Kuleshov Effect and The News of The War In Iraq

The discovery of persistence of image and the application thereof to photography, brought about the invention of moving pictures and forever changed the history of the world. It is common practice to value a picture at a rate of a thousand words. What is not understood as widely is the power placed in the hands of the person editing a sequence of film, and how much the edit job can change which 1,000 words get conveyed by a roll of moving pictures.

The Soviet filmmakers employed by Josef Stalin first discovered how to utilize cutting and splicing between different scenes in order to greatly amplify the emotional shock of a motion picture. A man named Kuleshov is believed to be one of the first to ever have applied this technique to propaganda films. Hence, the technique is known as The Kuleshov Effect and has become a staple of filmmaking and nightly news production ever since.

We now fast-forward to the terribly shocking footage of prisoner abuse in the Iraq War. While the abuse, itself, constitutes base moral turpitude of the rankest order, the use made of the images has been equally evil and repugnant. This effect becomes amplified when these images are broadcast to a predominately illiterate audience in the foreign countries that sponsor our enemies.

The story of the torture inflicted on POWs by US Army MPs did have to be told. The specific, gory pictures did not have to be broadcast on 24 hour news channels world wide. The fact that the source for this news story was an internal disciplinary investigation by the Army could have shown up in the lead of these awful stories. It never seemed to be mentioned until well below the fold.

Several aspects of how the stories were presented to the world by CBS and other networks have many of the earmarks of a Sergei Eisenstein propaganda film aimed at inflaming the passions of our enemies and demoralizing the American public. The film seems less of a news story and more of a meticulously prepared criminal prosecution of the chain of command in Washington, DC. This is so much true that the story figures prominently in fund raising letters currently being mailed out by the opposition party.

The prevalence of sadistic women as the torturers has been particularly problematic. We currently fight an enemy from a highly misogynistic culture. These people expect subservience out of women and force them to wear the burka. When they see a woman in a skimpy BDU T-shirt leading an Iraqi prisoner around on a dog leash, the outrage easily be predicted.

These particular images seemed to have an absolute paramount position in every media portrayal of the POW torture incident. They seemed almost calculated to intentionally enrage every country in The Middle East. It was almost as if CBS had developed a vested interest in seeing to it that the opposition to the US mission in Iraq became amplified ten-fold.

Another aspect of this entire episode that boggles the mind, involves the total lack of attention paid to the commanding general who let it be known that her soldiers were expected to play hardball in order to exert information. Furthermore, if you read somewhere well below the fold, you'll find out that these were inexperienced troops that received minimal training in POW treatment according to The Laws of Land Warfare.

Actions taken by the leadership in Iraq produced a recipe for the disaster that has predictably occurred. They put untrained soldiers in a pressurized environment and gave them stimulus to behave in an immoral and illegal fashion. That, in and of itself, was a major story when Lt. William Calley’s platoon shot the entire village of My Lai.

While a few borderline S&M shots of women in military uniform always seem to tune in the pervert demographic, the visual media accompanying this story seemed directly targeted towards making it damaging to everything the US military is tasked to accomplish in Iraq. The use of visual propaganda, by major US media companies, to turn the American population against the current war has placed our soldier's lives in mortal danger.

The slickly edited images of horror have a certain artistic merit and almost a ghoulish appeal. However, as was the case with movies like "Triumph of The Will" and "Birth of a Nation", the mordant, aberrant purpose for which these propaganda shorts have been used, overshadows any inherent qualities that may have justified the manner in which these images were edited prior to there worldwide broadcast.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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