Over the last year Vice News has become my go-to source for world news. Their documentary on ISIS/ISIL/IS/JKLMNOP was stellar and their reporting on the Ferguson protests was also fantastic. More often than not, they seem to hit the metaphorical nail on the head for me. This new article from them in response to the uproar over a propaganda film from The Islamic State led me to stand up from my computer and give them a slow clap.
We live in a sensationalized culture, one where we react in utter astonishment over seemingly lame things. The Islamic State released a propaganda video last week entitled, Flames of War. And then the media and social media reacted in astonishment over the perceived production value of the "film." Since the days after 9/11, we've grown accustomed to boring videos of Osama bin Laden sitting on a desert cave talking to a Sony Handicam. Al-Qaeda home videos, essentially. The production value, well... there was none. Point it at the subject, hit record, post to Internet. The Islamic State video just released, by contrast, showcased a lot of visuals of war, dramatic music, dramatic titles, dramatic voice-overs, and effects! But when I watched the video I said to myself, "This is what high school kids with access to iMovie do." You can even take that a step further and say, "This is what high school kids with iPhones do." All of the elements are ones readily available to any hack with a video editor. Seriously. If you have iMovie, you can make the exact same film as The Islamic State produced. Complete with recycled clips throughout and a droning and dreadfully dramatic song file. Suffice it to say, there is nothing amazing about their film, at all.
The reason this becomes an issue is because people are fawning over what amounts to a junior high video project with a 3D rendered logo in the opening credits. The video itself was meant to appeal to western sensibilities with regards to media, and some of us bought it, and in a round-about way, albeit unintentionally, praised them for it. Sitting around astonished by what you perceive to be high production value is just that–praise. It may not be praise in the most overt sense, but it is praise nonetheless.
So, hats off to this article from Vice News about the nonsense of calling this little video of theirs "high quality" or anything of the like. It's not. It's just another piece of ruthless and evil propaganda from a group of people who finally joined the 21st century of home video production despite being a people who wish to violently return us to a lifestyle more akin to the 7th Century. I would ask that we all roundly condemn this video, and instead praise the kids who are using 21st century video production methods to achieve something worthwhile in the world.
There's the link to the Vice News piece again. Read it, please.