Point of View

by Kiko Matsing

(from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo)

Truth, But Not The Whole Truth (The New Yorker):

Photography and video generally do not, especially when there’s no human being behind the lens. By their nature images strip events of context: their powerful impact in part depends on narrowness, immediacy, and purity of form. And there’s a great deal that this video leaves out. It doesn’t tell you about the circumstances of the attack, how a few days earlier this neighborhood in eastern Baghdad had exploded in combat between American soldiers and Sadrist militiamen detonating hidden bombs and staging ambushes. It doesn’t tell you about the fighting going on near the street where a group of men, some of them armed, come into the Apaches’ view. It doesn’t tell you that the Apaches are providing support for infantrymen of the 2-16, in armored vehicles, who have been taking fire.

These pieces of missing information are not just inherent limitations in video. The producers themselves have chosen not to provide them. There appears to be a purpose to the omissions, which is underlined by the Orwell quote at the start, the prefatory explanation, the quotes and dedication at the end, even the way the helicopter crew’s cruel remarks are edited in a few places for effect…

There is an account of the same incident by David Finkel, the Washington Post reporter who spent fifteen months with the battalion involved, the 2-16. It appears in Chapter 5 of Finkel’s powerful book about the surge, “The Good Soldiers.”