The Deception of America

Review by Michael Jacobson

Host:  Mark Taylor
Audio:  Dolby Stereo
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  CYHL Pictures
Features:  Factoids, Trailer
Length:  72 Minutes
Release Date:  September 21, 2004

“They are not telling you the whole truth.”

Film (zero stars)

For a long time now I’ve been quite vocal in my opposition to Michael Moore and what he does, which is essentially to pass off extremist propaganda as honest political discourse in his books and films.  My differing political point of view had nothing to do with it, I’ve argued, but to those who’ve supported what he had to say, I was little more than some right wing fascist trying to suppress dissent.

Now comes the answer to everything Moore has had to say about the war on terror in a film called Buried in the Sand.  It’s a movie that defends a lot of the points of view I’ve held dear over the past few years.  But just because I agree with what it has to say doesn’t make it any less a disgusting, vile, over-the-top piece of propaganda than Moore’s work.  The left has called Michael Moore their answer to Rush Limbaugh; I’m here to vehemently plea on the side of the right that WE don’t need an answer to Michael Moore.

As hosted by Mark Taylor, this is a picture that brings together just about every depiction of brutality ever recorded against the regime of Saddam Hussein and the terrorists who have tried to thwart the emergence of democracy in the Middle East.  These are the images that our media have largely withheld from us in favor of daily force-feedings of pictures of Abu Ghraib abuses.  Many of them have been talked about, but seldom seen.  By stringing them together and punctuating them with “this is why we fight” sentiment, the film aims to win support for the war from those who have withheld it.

But it’s no documentary any more than Moore’s works are.  It’s nothing but right wing propaganda designed to get audiences to forgo reason and intelligent thought and respond with emotional gut reactions.  I have no doubt the power of the images contained in the course of the film will succeed in many cases.  But it hides behind a mask of nobility while truthfully serving no noble purpose.

I was one of many who were highly offended by Senator Ted Kennedy’s flippant remark about how Saddam’s torture chambers were re-opened under U.S. management.  As an answer to him, this film first shows some of the photos and video footage of the Abu Ghraib abuses we were forced to endure for weeks and weeks.  But then, to leave no doubt as to the difference, comes earlier Abu Ghraib video, when it was Saddam’s prison.  We actually see Hussein’s prisoners being beaten to death while listening to them scream and plead for their lives until their bodies slump still from the soldiers’ clubbings.

But that isn’t all.  We see footage of Iraqi citizens getting their fingers chopped off, their hands removed, their arms broken.  We hear prisoners scream and cry while getting their bare feet beaten mercilessly.  We see Iraqi stonings, where prisoners are tied, covered, buried chest deep in sand and summarily bludgeoned with large rocks until they’re blood soaked messes.  We see the footage of suicide bombers as filmed by the terrorists themselves for their own purposes, including the carnage of the aftermath of an Israeli bus bombing, showing severed limbs and bodies that appear to have been turned inside out from the force of the blast.

The film accuses the American media of being accomplices in trying to quell the anger of our citizens by NOT showing us the footage of the four Americans in Fallujah who were burned, beaten, and dragged in the streets and eventually hung from a bridge, or the beheadings of Nicholas Berg and the others who preceded and followed him.  So Buried in the Sand purports to right this great wrong by showing us all of it.

You know what?  I was boiling mad at the perpetrators of these acts when I first heard about them months ago.  Seeing the graphic, nauseating footage wasn’t a necessary commodity for me.  Now that I’ve finally seen it, it made me no angrier at the terrorists (that was impossible), but it filled me with resentment that these filmmakers thought I needed to see it to have an emotional response or to garner an appreciation for what our country and her allies are trying to accomplish.  This movie is little more than Faces of Death with a political spin.

When Michael Moore gregariously displayed the footage of the Columbine killings, I condemned it as vile exploitation of the worst kind.  Buried in the Sand is every bit its equal in that department.  I didn’t need to see innocent school kids being shot up to appreciate the tragedy of that bleak day, and I didn’t need to see a screaming Nicholas Berg having his head sawed off and displayed to recognize the grim reality of the war on terror.

This isn’t even a film that will preach to the choir.  Those of us who support President Bush and the efforts in Iraq do not need to be steeled, and if we did, it certainly wouldn’t come from a movie like this.  If this picture does in fact convince anyone who protested the war to suddenly switch sides…well, I’d feel more worried than happy.  The propaganda film seems to be making a comeback as a legitimate art form and entertainment, and that’s not something I want to see.  I don’t need any American version of Goebbels trying to appeal to the basest part of my being, whether I agree with the political point of view or not.

Video *

Most of the movie is comprised of poorly shot video of tortures and executions, so you don’t expect a great deal of quality,  What’s curious is even the intermediate segments with host Mark Taylor are poorly filmed.  The lighting is so bad that half of his face is dark and unintelligible throughout.

Audio *

Likewise, most of the audio that accompanies the guerilla video is bad, with dropouts, noise and other inherent problems.  Not that it matters much…all you really need to hear are the screams.

Features *

The disc features a trailer and accessible ‘factoids’.


Buried in the Sand disgusts me as much as anything I’ve seen from Michael Moore.  It doesn’t matter in the least that I agree ideologically with one and not the other…propaganda is the lowest form of entertainment.  It exists to stir irrational emotional reactions and suppress thoughtful debate.  The fact that more and more movies like these are being made and passed off as ‘documentaries’ really makes me shudder for the political future of our nation.

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