Adam Curtis’ BBC documentary, titled “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear,” played at Campbell Hall this Monday to a sizeable audience ready to revel in what promised to be a Bush-bashing free-for-all. The three-hour film had originally been released as a three-part series on the BBC in 2004. The documentary detailed the rise of the two most predominant examples of fear politik: the neo-conservatism of the Good Old Boys in the Bush Administration and the Islamic fundamentalists that arose out of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. It also marked their preeminence as a paradigm shift from the old political ploy of the “promise of a better future” to the new promise of “salvation from a terrifying nightmare” that, as the film posits, is largely imagined and over-exaggerated by the men in power.
Many commentaries that challenge the audacious doublespeak of the powers that be make their claims and string along their viewers by appealing to humor, mudslinging or simple propagandistic tactics like sound bytes and MTV-style editing to achieve some sort of legitimacy. “The Power of Nightmares,” however, makes a strong case for its argument, well supported by what appear to be “experts,” as well as relatively extensive historical and political contextualization. It even includes candid interviews with such amazing and charismatic neocon playboys as Richard Pearle. It was also interesting to watch this commentary, which was created from an “outside perspective,” since most of the documentaries I have seen that discuss the fear tactics used by the Bush administration are made by Americans. Curtis did not take the reactionary position many American liberals normally do when discussing how the Bush administration has perverted American politics, but looked at it analytically instead, which I think adds a lot of legitimacy to his argument. While Michael Moore may win hearts with his hijinks, Adam Curtis slaps a giant question mark on the ideologies running our government, which may be obvious to some, but clearly do not reverberate as objective truths to the majority of the voting population.
As a definite dissident to the ideologues that currently call our country’s crusades and make lofty claims about sleeper cells and weapons of mass whatever, I will say I was more than happy to see the “brains” behind Bush bashed to little bits. Not only did Curtis compare the Bush Administartion’s political tactics to the very terrorists they are trying to “smoke out of their holes,” but he claimed that the entire idea of international networks of terror is a delusion dreamed up by these men when they worked for the Reagan Administration. Curtis makes a pretty convincing argument that their lies are no truer now than they were when the Communists were the “evil-doers.” The only difference is that now they themselves believe the lies they have constructed to be broadcast on the real terrorist networks firing fear into the hearts of Americans: the Fox News Network and CNN.