Tuesday 23 March 2010

Green Zone, Iraq, and Privilege.

I saw GREEN ZONE yesterday and it really stirred something up in me. Iraq, I hate to say, hadn't always meant a great deal to me. It was this thing that happened, but seven years have gone by and I'm more likely to discuss my favorite yogurt flavors than talk about Iraq. But recently; I've been thinking about it. There were no WMD's. We all know this but I keep repeating it to myself. There were no WMD's. They were the reason we went there! We, as in, my people, my nation. I say we because I feel a sense of accountability-- our actions did a lot over there and it's questionnable how much was good.

It's amazing how I know so little about the ins and the outs of the conflict. It's a privilege I've been afforded due to where I was born that I don't have to worry about nightly bombings on my head. That same privilege has allowed me to change the channel when the news didn't interest me, to watch an episode of Friends rather than spend twenty minutes learning about the thousands and thousands of dead and displaced Iraqi citizens. We did that. Our nations, our part of the world. Whether we're pro war, anti war or apathetic; those choices are privileges we have that people in Iraq didn't get to have.

When watching Green Zone, these things really hit me. Seeing a perplexed Matt Damon running around wondering where all the WMDs were; it brought forward the insanity of it all. An insanity which I already knew but had seldom settled on, probably because I was watching episodes of Entourage.

There are a few lingering master shots in GREEN ZONE, I remember one right near the end; we see the town, aircraft overhead; and building after building exploding. By really focusing on the truth of what I was seeing, it really bothered me, really made me realise how lucky I am in my life.

The crazy thing is seeing the division within the Allied American Units. Not only was there a war with Iraq, there were plenty of wars within the Western forces. The film is fictional, in part, so the specifics may not be exact-- but my guess is that it's pretty accurate. We only have to look at Hurricane Katrina or the Haiti disaster to see how a bunch of agencies who are all there to do good, end up squabbling and fighting; causing unneccesary stress on a situation. Put that into a conflict situation, and the implications are even more frightening. Within the concept of 'us versus them', inside of 'us' are a whole lot more of 'us and them's'.

This blog isn't really about Green Zone and it isn't really about Foreign Policy or politics or warfare. It's just me, a Film guy who doesn't know much about Iraq, finally realizing my country played a huge part in what went down. And whilst some good was done and necessary things acheived - there's a lot that concerns me, that I feel accountable for as a citizen of my country. The privilege of being English, or American, is that we can choose to be uninformed, or to indulge in what our media tells us. And I guess I'm just realizing my responsibility, as a human being: I need to care more.

Care to share?


  1. That was one of the things that struck me about "Green Zone". Being a lazy sod, uninterested in current affairs, I had no idea how much of what's in the film could be taken seriously. All the machinations and politics did seem frighteningly PLAUSIBLE to me, though.

  2. I was actually pretty upset when we found nothing in Iraq. I'm a democrat and it only made me think less of Bush. That said, it's quite old news, and I thought that the message delivery within the movie was pretty strained. Freddy's character seemed forced and very flat. Like they were trying to use him to shove a political message down our throats. It didn't go down easy. It didn't go down at all. I left this movie feeling like I wasted my time. Great. No WMDs. I saw that on the news. That's pretty much what the plot amounted to.

  3. What you guys both say is really interesting, but also what has really been bothering me - the fact we all have this huge PRIVILEGE of being able to say "I'm a lazy, uninterested sod," or "There were WMD's, that's old," -- there's something about that which is really unsettling to me. The post I wrote wasn't really about the film at all, but rather; my realisation of how privileged I am to live in the UK, and to be able to go on living the same as before the Iraq war. It's a privilege our Brothers and Sisters in Iraq don't get to have. So no, I don't think it's old news at all.

  4. I haven't seen this film yet - based on this I kind of want to, although I know how grim it'll be. I'm from the middle east (although I live in england), so the whole war on iraq and the iran situation has always been of some interest to me, but at the same time, I can't bear to know too much about it, it's just so frustrating. Like you say, there WERE no WMDs. And so many people died. How ridiculous. xx