Friday, September 22, 2006

Inaccuracy in Media

There is a conservative group which mislabels itself Accuracy in Media. There major justification for existing is to correct the "liberal bias" of the media. By "liberal" they don't mean liberal at all, but socialist. For them unbiased means conservative lies in lieu of socialist lies.

They recently ran an article, very late in the game apparently, reviewing the film V for Vendetta. And their description of it is inaccurate and sometimes funny, albeit unintentionally so.

The most absurd line in the whole piece is this: "I detest an expanding federal government as much as the next conservative or libertarian." First, please don't say libertarian in the same breath as conservative. Libertarians are not another brand of conservative as much in common with Kincaid and his ilk as they do with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Libertarianism is neither Left nor Right, but a repudiation of both. Second, if Kincaid detests an "expanding federal government as much as the next conservative" that means he doesn't detest at all. The biggest expansion of the federal government, the most vicious assault on the Bill of Rights in decades, is the work of the current conservative regime.

In fact, Kincaid's little piece on the film is really an attack on "liberal Hollywood" and a justification for expanding the federal government. He whines that "it is only the federal government that can protect us against foreign threats. That is the one thing that the federal government is supposed to do—provide for a national defense." See, Bush is just "defending America," in spite of the fact that the lion's share of government expansion was outside the military budget and in social welfare. The Republicans, the conservatives, embraced big government with a fury not seen since FDR. And Kincaid is inaccurate to imply that it has anything to do with defense, when most the spending has been on social programs.

Let's look at some of Kincaid's other little lies. In the film television host Gordan Deitrich takes in the character Evey, who is on the run from the authorities. He has a copy of the Qu'ran in a class case in his basement. Not any copy you should know, but an ancient, illustrated edition that is a collector's piece. First, how Kincaid distorts the scene. " The Koran, the victim says, is a beautiful book filled with poetry. " Did he call the Qu'ran a "beautiful book" as Kincaid said "filled with poetry." Nope. Kincaid distorted the film intentionally. I say intentionally because he does it throughout his little diatribe. One can watch the film or read the novel (not the illustrated original but the one based on the film) which was written based on the film script. I recently read the novel and saw the film for the second time, so I know they are pretty much in sync with one another.

The Qu'ran in the film is from the 14th Century. And what Deitrich says is that he isn't a Muslim but "I don't have to be a Muslim to find the images beautiful or its poetry moving."
Notice he did not say the book itself was beautiful as Kincaid makes up. He says the images in this ancient illustrated edition are beautiful. The images, not the book. Nor did he say it was "filled with poetry." In fact he made no quantifiable statement at all about how much of it is poetic. He said that he found "its poetry moving" without once saying how much of it was poetry. For a group that calls itself Accuracy in Media, they aren't very accurate when it comes to the media. But the purpose of this is to bash Hollywood, and if need be, that may require distorting the facts.

I don't think Accuracy in Media exists to be accurate. They exist to tell conservatives what they want to hear and raise funds by doing that. Say what your donors want to hear and the money keeps rolling in.

Kincaid argues that the film "is worth watching only because it sheds some light on the mindset of Hollywood elites who fear Bush more than radical Islam. And it highlights the role of the media in brainwashing the population... If impressionable young people come away from this film thinking that Islamic terrorism is not a threat, then Hollywood will have accomplished its sinister objective." See it's a sinister plot to brainwash kids to hate Jesus W. Bush.

Fact is that the story, which he thinks is about Bush, was written and published as an illustrated novel between 1982 and 1985: long before the big government conservatives anointed Dubya their new messiah. Kincaid says the film is about "a conservative administration." If by conservative you mean fascist then he is correct. Of course, these days I can understand why he gets the two confused. The fascists in the film took over the government and V is fighting them. In fact, the original illustrated version of it was far more left-anarchistic and the film script toned that down considerably much to the displeasure of left anarchists.

I find it just wacko, conspiracist nonsense to say the film’s “sinister objective” was to get “young people” thinking “that Islamic terrorism is not a threat.” It is nonsense because the film is not about this world and current events. It is set in an alternative world to our own when history went in a different direction. It doesn’t deal with Islamic terrorism in the plot and, considering it is based on a story written 24 years ago, that is no surprise. But nutty conservatives love finding “sinister” plots and scapegoating people. So, the film had the “sinister objective” of whitewashing Islamic terrorists. What nonsense. But it is indicative of the mind set of Accuracy (sic) in Media.

At the end of the story people come out to protest the government, and as Kincaid describes it, “Government forces, confused about how to respond, do not fire their weapons.” A minor point perhaps but there is a good reason they are confused here. The government they live under is a dictatorship, which Kincaid equates with being a “conservative" administration—perhaps a Freudian slip. The dictator has died in a coup manipulated by V, but carried out by the head of the secret police. And the head of the secret police is killed by V. In a dictatorship the moment the head is severed the body doesn’t know how to react, until the power vacuum is filled. The soldiers surrounding parliament are waiting for orders. No one acts without orders, it's too dangerous. It’s a dictatorship. In dictatorships, if you want to survive, you follow orders and don't take the initiative. And, when no orders come, they do nothing. That is how dictatorships work.

Kincaid is obsessed with his fantasy that the film is really a defense of fundamentalist terrorism: “Its sounds like a fairy tale, and it is. It is a world in which the American people—and the populations of other Western democracies—have nothing to fear from the Muslims or anybody else. The only thing we have to fear, the film says, is our own government.” His obsession is borderline idiotic since it’s not about that at all.

No, Islamic terrorists are not part of this film. They aren’t part of Star Wars, The Browning Version, Gone with the Wind or thousands and thousands of other films. It’s not a conspiracy run by liberals, Jews, Masons, the Illuminati, homosexuals or anyone else. It’s a film with a plot, set in a future world with a history different from our own. The basic plot never mentions Islamic terrorism as the story was written long before that was an issue.

Now, many libertarians, liberals (classical and modern), and even some conservatives are concerned about the rise of authoritarianism under George Bush. The utter disregard for Constitutional freedoms, the centralisation of power in the Imperial presidency, the lies told to the American public regularly, all are very ominous signs about the state of freedom—something conservatives once said they were concerned about. But Kincaid says: “The real issue is not that the government has gone too far, but that it hasn’t gone far enough.”

Now, that fits into the comic book. Yes, that is precisely the sort of mentality that V for Vendetta was talking about, even though it was not about Islamic terrorism. It was about how fascism arises in a nation with a history of freedom. And, the way fascism replaces freedom is when individuals stand up and say that a government which has spit on the Constitution, has open contempt for the Bill of Rights, and which despises federalism or limited government, “hasn’t gone far enough.”

But, for nutty Kincaid and his fascist fantasies the film is “a justification for Islamic Jihad.” Right.

V for Vendetta does warn us about how people can be terrified into surrendering freedom. And today, it is not Islamic terrorists who control America. Nor are they even likely to do so. The threat to American freedom, the real and potent threat to liberty, can not come from without but only from within. America is too powerful to be conquered, but no nation, no matter how strong, is immune from a cancer that rots it from within.

Bin Laden and the lunatic fundamentalists in Islam might periodically commit some atrocity. But they can’t destroy freedom. They might kill the body, but they can’t kill the libertarian spirit of the American Revolution. That sort of spiritual murder is always self-induced. The American system can’t be murdered, but it can commit suicide. And people like Cliff Kincaid are standing on the sidelines cheering on that suicide in the name of their “war on terror”.

Our illustration is from the original 1982 edition of V for Vendetta.

UPDATE: Given the mental hysteria rampant in the American conservative movement, I should have known that a piece as inaccurate as the Kincaid one would be spread around. Already two other websites for the brain-dead Right have reprinted it. Ann Coulter is all the evidence you need that the more dishonest and shrill a writer is, the more support they get from what passes itself off as modern conservatism. Poor Barry Goldwater is spinning in his grave.

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