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Notes on Character Assassination

LPC en la biblioteca | Diciembre 07, 2010

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The Diva: Terry Castle on Susan Sontag

She’d been telling me about the siege and how a Yugoslav woman she had taken shelter with had asked her for her autograph, even as bombs fell around them. She relished the woman’s obvious intelligence (‘Of course, Terry, she’d read The Volcano Lover, and like all Europeans, admired it tremendously’) and her own sangfroid. Then she stopped abruptly and asked, grim-faced, if I’d ever had to evade sniper fire. I said, no, unfortunately not.

The Fraud: Lynn Hirschberg on M.I.A

Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry. “I don’t want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.

The Manipulator: Raffi Khatchadourian on Julian Assang

Assange had decided to exclude the Hellfire incident from the film; the attack lacked the obvious human dimension of the others, and he thought that viewers might be overloaded with information.

The edited film, which was eighteen minutes long, began with a quote from George Orwell that Assange and M had selected: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” It then presented information about the journalists who had been killed, and about the official response to the attack. For the audio of this section, one of the film’s Icelandic editors had layered in fragments of radio banter from the soldiers. As Assange reviewed the cut, an activist named Gudmundur Gudmundsson spoke up to say that the banter allowed viewers to “make an emotional bond” with the soldiers. Assange argued that it was mostly fragmentary and garbled, but Gudmundsson insisted: “It is just used all the time for triggering emotions."
“At the same time, we are displaying them as monsters,” the editor said.

“But emotions always rule,” Gudmundsson said. “By the way, I worked on the sound recording for a film, ‘Children of Nature,’ that was nominated for an Oscar, so I am speaking from experience.”

“Well, what is your alternative?” Assange asked.

“Basically, bursts of sounds, interrupting the quiet,” he said.

The editor made the change, stripping the voices of the soldiers from the opening, but keeping blips and whirs of radio distortion. Assange gave the edit his final approval.




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