Keeping the Rabble in Line

Banging on about representation: The would be media lens

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dispatches: "Building a democracy based on liberal values"

Ok, this is a sort of rapid response to the disappointing Channel Four program "Dispatches". Subject: Iraq; Presented and researched by Peter Oborne. Whilst it would no doubt be unfair to say "everything one needs to know about Peter Oborne" can be found here, it should provide subtle clues as to what we are dealing with. We can also look here. However, that may be to do him a grave disservice...after all he may only be unwittingly constrained by the discourse in which he must operate. If we look here for instance, we see that he is at least partially aware of the politics of lying and seems to want to seek it out in order to expose it. But, like the subject of yesterday's blog explained?? it can only go so far. So Peter Oborne should not be [and is not] the principal target of any analysis. In this case, he is just the unfortunate emblem of a system, the unwitting receptacle if you will.

The Dispatches program of 21st November 2005 looked an interesting broadcast, and in many ways it was. However, it made all the usual points: As ever, it presented itself as the bastion of critical values whilst at the same time was utterly toothless where it needs to be. Yes it may well have been critical of Bush and Blair -- though this of course is a hobby and a necessary pantomime along the lines of the "bad apple" theory, it was also critical of the planning and the execution of these "misguided" plans. Whilst all this is the case, the makers made the usual errors. Just in case the viewer be in any doubt as to which side s/he should be on, Peter Oborne, when discussing the "insurgency" [a term not analysed or critically evaluated whatsoever] is wont to employ threatening language: "dark forces"..."vicious, violent assaults"..."murderous militia" et al whilst framing the "coalition" power[s] and agents of those powers as misguided, misadventurous, benign but lacking support and so on. As yesterday's blog...and many by medialens point out, the entire genre of this type of programme, and the context they provide is a fiction, namely: that western ideology[s] are only ever benign [perhaps misguided] but never less than well meaning. These guiding principles are firmly maintained and ones which we are never allowed to deviate from. Again, the coalition [another term used uncritically] are providing for the Iraqi's, freedom, democracy and security. They are though constrained and endangered in this mission[ary] project by the vicious, irrational, Other of murderous fundamentalists.

The verbal narrative drive of the program was also couched in the following types of language: "The British forces, whilst trying to set up a western style democracy, frequently came up against people rallying behind the extremist Islamic fundamentalist candidates...they defeated the coalition backed candidate" Firstly, it is a given that the mission was to export western style democracy -- this is questionable but unquestioned in the narrative of this broadcast, and furthermore, isn't this democracy in action. The tone of voice, visual signifiers etc did not implore the viewing subject to see this as a positive point. A classic moment of "you can have democracy, but only if you pick our chosen candidates" Of course there is research to suggest that a privatisation of Iraq was the MO certainly was not democracy. The visual signifiers were also instructive. Editing of course creates a narrative, so there were images of "irrational" Iraqi "mobs", filled with rage and hate...cut against the brave boys of the US and British forces "calmly" and responsibly "spreading their message" [the actual words used on one occasion!]

In Oborne's defence, he does maintain that democracy looks a long way off. In fact at the conclusion of the broadcast he is quite certain of this. However, that peace, freedom, security and democracy were/are the fundamentals of the invasion and occupation is still assumed.

I may provide a more extensive account of this program once I have watched it again...


  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger Gothamimage said…

    We (the US) will be out of Iraq by 2007. The big war is still sometime off, and will put off Iraqi democracy for many years. All the chin scratching liberals will hold panel discussions and complain that Bush did not speak well and that is why Iraq failed.

  • At 10:01 PM, Blogger Chris R said…

    Er righto. Thanks for that. Nice to see the reliance on cliches and stereotypes -- "chin scratching liberals" -- is that the sum total of your position?

    What exactly [dare I ask?] is "the big war"? Who's in your [gun]sights now? I'm not sure Iraq will fail -- what's the criteria for success/failure? -- because "Bush did not speak well". In US foregin policy terms, it looks destined to be fairly successful if by success we mean getting their hands on energy reserves, having a puppet government under the guise of a democracy, and fewer of those pesky dark skinned A-rabs/Muslims.

    For the rest of the world however, this will be a catastrophic failure...and yes, Bush will still be an idiot!


  • At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Gothamimage you are ?wat (find the correct consonant). I'm sorry Chris I wish to use some pretty foul language to describe the Bush scratching ferret fornicater incest driven Texan We(the US) big war wishing wannabe living with mum non-passport holding belligerent sorry COCK! I tried I can't help it COCK! WHAT THE FUCK IS HE TALKING ABOUT!

    I understand it's T.V. and a little patronising but WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU GOTHAMIMAGE? Do you really consider yourself to be the image of Gotham a city so polluted by greed and weakness that you have to call out for a rich caped crusader to save your sorry excuse of a life? Who is your Batman surely not George W in his father's mask you COCK!

    Sorry Chris, but he really annoyed me and I can't think any more. @¬(

    love you George Leitheiser.

    Send me your e-mail Gothamimage I'll send you some lovemail.

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