Wednesday, June 14, 2006

YOUTUBE AT THE HEART OF THE IRAQ CONFLICT

There's a small storm blowing in the US over Hadji Girl, a song apparently performed by a marine which attempts to draw laughs from the idea of slaughtering an entire Iraqi family. Pretty much everyone so far has settled into the lines you'd expect - the Council on American-Islmaic Relations have protested, YouTube have yanked the video, the Marines themselves have swung into their that's not what we'd expect of a marine and now the bloggers like Dave Nalle are suggesting it's all a fuss about nothing:

Clearly it's a song about the Iraq war, but at the same time it's obviously satire - the oft-repeated nonsense phrase having been drawn directly from the movie Team America: World Police.

Now, we'd always thought that Parker and Stone's satire was pretty heavy-handed, but it seems that the central message of Team America might have been too subtle for the marines to grasp if their response to seeing it was "Hey, we should go out and make a song about killing a family!"

Here's just a taste of that marine satire:

They pulled out their AKs so I could see
and they said
Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad
sherpa sherpa bakala
so I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me.

As the bullets began to fly
the blood sprayed from between her eyes
and then I laughed maniacally.
Then I hid behind the TV
and I locked and loaded my M16,
I blew those little fuckers to eternity.


Be honest, you can picture Lance Percival doing that on The Topical Calypso, can't you?

Aha, but then Nalle suggests it's not actually meant as satire, after all, but a way of letting off steam:

What we're dealing with here is basically a silly song from some soldiers who are blowing off steam about the frustrating nature of the war they're in.

Aha - that could make some sort of sense; front-line troops who face danger every day finding a way to cope with their fears. The trouble is, when Nalle also tries to suggest this is a fantasy rather than a real incident, he contradicts this:

In addition, the singer has not been deployed in combat in Iraq and there's nothing autobiographical about the song, contrary to suggestions made by some critics.

So, he's letting off steam at having to face - what, exactly, day after day?

Nalle smells a rat about the whole affair:

While lip-reading suggests that most of the lyrics are the same in the audio and video, the fact that they are out of synchronization raises a lot of questions.

It raises one question, which is: how many YouTube videos has Nalle ever seen? You're lucky if the video and audio are in the same area as each other, never mind being in sync. What's he suggesting? That the video was actually of marines doing some Japanese Noh theatre and someone superimposed a song over the top to cause trouble?

It's true, of course, that soldiers do this sort of thing all the time. In a way, since your career choice is heavily leaning towards killing people, or helping other people kill people, the densensitisation of those who are being cast as your enemy is only to be expected. If the barracks were full of troops singing I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing, they might find it a little harder to kill people the next day.

And, in a country where Colleen "it's not a suicide, it's a PR stunt" Raffy and Anne "World Trade Center widows are witches" Coulter are seen as figures of respect rather than hounded out of society as inhuman moral vacuums, perhaps it's only to be expected that troops don't really see why videoing this sort of thing and then uploading it to the internet isn't a helpful thing to do.

Nalle, though, is sad for other reasons:

What's truly unfortunate about this video is the use to which it is being put.

No, Dave. What's unfortunate is that the marines who made it think that this sort of casual attitude to human life is something that should be shared with the world.


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