Friday, January 13, 2006

Reality Television, Iraqi Style

Billmon has a post up today (huzzah!) focusing on what's apparently the new trend in Iraqi teevee: reality shows featuring the insurgency. The shows feature in-studio interviews along with grittier footage showing I.E.D. explosions, mortar attacks...and (no doubt whetting a wingnut's appetite for gore) executions.

Geez...I never thought I'd see "last throes" and "production values" juxtaposed:

Now if they were real propaganda professionals, the terrorists would have had multiple copies of some trite but catchy slogan -- "Killing the Crusaders" -- posted as the backdrop to the set, like Bush at one of his "Saving Social Security" town hall meetings. But even if the production values are still a little rough, the insurgents clearly see ratings potential in the talk show format:
Abu Munther sits sporting a black blazer and a white turtleneck, even though the ski-mask is still a mandatory part of the wardrobe, and he’s performing the role of the host of this setting. Today’s guest is Abu Ahmed from the Military Council of JAS [Jaish Ansar Al-Sunna, No. 2 Terrorist Organization in Iraq], who is underdressed for the occasion because “I didn’t know that this was going to happen,” as he apologetically explains towards the end.

Talk, however, doesn't hold that prized young-armed-male demographic. So it isn't l
The half-hour interview, interspersed with footage and commentary, ends with a customary handshake and a plug for future programming. End credits include “Pray for us” and “Copyright is reserved for any Muslim, 2005.”
ong before Abu Munther and his guest switch to the bang bang shoot 'em up:
We are shown a montage of JAS’s ‘Greatest Hits,’ which run the gamut from blowing up Humvees in Ramadi to firing-off C5K missiles in Samarra. We are shown about twenty such operations, including one in which an observation tower within a US base is blown-up in broad daylight. Abu Ahmad explains that JAS has spies operating inside US military installations. These spies are equipped with GPS navigation devices and their job is to deliver the coordinates of sensitive points within these far-flung bases to those rigging up missiles or setting-up mortar attacks. We even glimpse a scene of a man sitting down with a calculator and a notepad making preparations for just such an attack.

Then it's back to the studio for the wind up:
The half-hour interview, interspersed with footage and commentary, ends with a customary handshake and a plug for future programming. End credits include “Pray for us” and “Copyright is reserved for any Muslim, 2005.”

Now you gotta admit, that's a pretty slick piece of work -- especially for a bunch of desperate terrorists who are relentlessly being hunted down and killed by the U.S. Army and its heroic Iraqi allies in their drive to total victory. That probably explains the wardrobe problems.

Desperate as he is, Abu Zarqawi isn't going to let a rival network steal audience share so easily. According to Kazimi at Talisman Gate, he put up the first installment of his own new show the same week that the JAS version of 60 Minutes (well, 30 Minutes) debuted. I guess it must have been sweeps week.

However, being more of a Fox Network/Spike TV kind of guy, Zarqawi skips the talk show wrapper and sticks with his classic reality TV formula -- confession followed by execution:
So what did [Al Qaeda in Iraq] come up with? Their own version of Cops . . . a response to a popular version of that show being shown on the official Iraqi TV network, Al-Iraqiyya, and called “Terrorism in the Grip of Justice.”
But this time around, Zarqawi’s Omar Brigade (set-up to kill and capture members of SCIRI’s Badr Brigade) showcases a bunch of captured Badrists and has them utter their confessions on tape.

As with most reality shows, you already know how this one will end:
Abu Zemen, whose confession is shown towards the very end after we hear voice-overs from Zarqawi condemning Shias in general, lists the goals of the Badr Brigade as follows: to distribute drugs, to kill Sunnis and rape their women, and to kill Sunni university professors, doctors, and ex-officers.

The video ends with Abu Zemen being shot in the back of the head, as well as having his house blown up.

Let's see Kiefer Sutherland top that.

Billmon goes on to point out that the "last throes" of this insurgency might well end up in an "Ulster on steroids" scenario--hardly a success, by any rational measure. But, then again, in a world where Woof Blitzer gets as well a paying gig as he's got to spew bilious, propagandistic venom--marketed as "news"--then almost anything is possible, at least when it comes to descriptions...

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