Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fred Kaplan falls off his pony

Poor Fred Kaplan. Film criticism is apparently much more difficult than gas bagging. In a slam of Brian DePalma's Redacted at Slate, Kappy scribbles furiously to reach a conclusion:

The film ends with photos of real-life victims of the Iraq war, though it's impossible to tell who they are, how they were killed, or who killed them. Is De Palma saying it doesn't matter? The final photo, he's told interviewers, is fake. Is he saying that doesn't matter, either?

Kappy's not going to like the film. He's one of those war 'critics' that really isn't. His dislike would go unremarked upon were he not such an idiot as he works himself up into a frenzy to bury the film. In the paragraph above (the second to last one in his slam), he's taking De Palma to task (disclosure, I know De Palma) for what? For images from the illegal war (which have been redacted by a cowardly company). Kappy wants to get ride his high horse (a tiny, little pony) carping "it's impossible to tell who they are, how they were killed, or who killed them."

"Get on your pony and ride, get on your pony and ride," Kappy, as the Mamas and the Papas sing ("Too Late," The Papas & The Mamas).

There are many problems with Kappy's 'logic' including his ignorance (again, the photos were redacted over De Palma's objection). But Kappy's 'logic' falls apart throughout. Does it matter who died, how they were killed and who killed them? Absolutely. That's really not the point of their inclusion in the film but we'll get to that. For now let's note that Kappy's falling off his pony.
Here's Dunce Kappy earlier in his slam:

The horror scene, as has been widely reported, is based on a real incident that took place in March 2006 in Mahmudiyah, a village south of Baghdad, where a U.S. Army private named Steven Green was charged with doing precisely what the psychos in Redacted do: raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, shooting her, and murdering her family. Green was every recruitment officer's nightmare: a troubled kid, a high-school dropout with a G.E.D. who'd racked up a few convictions on drug and alcohol charges, who was let in the Army as it was lowering standards to meet enlistment targets--and, under pressure, turned out not to have reformed after all.

That is so wrong on so many levels. But let's take it to Kappy's level if the elevator reaches that low -- we'll obviously be going far below the ground floor. Kappy, who died? If it's important who died -- and Kappy thinks it is when it comes to what De Palma offers onscreen after a film has ended -- isn't it important that they be named?

The fourteen-year-old girl is Abeer Qassim Hamza. Was "her family" murdered? Her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year old daughter Hadeel Qassim Hamza were murdered. Kappy doesn't name Abeer or her sister or her parents. He who wants to whine that it's important to know "who". Wants to whine when it comes to someone else's work. Was "her family" murdered? Kappy doesn't know the first thing he's writing about. And we're not going to spoon feed his sorry ass. But, no, there are other members of her immediate family.

How they died is important, Kappy says, of photos that close out a film. But Kappy can't even provide the basics on the example he chooses to highlight. He can't even get his own facts right -- a terminal condition for Kappy.

Steven D. Green? Kappy doesn't know the first thing he's talking about and Slate should issue a correction. "Was charged"? Green is charged. Green also denies the charges. (He'll be tried in a civilian court. November 8th, 2006, in a federal court in Kentucky, Green entered a not guilty plea.) Does Kappy know the names Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker? To read his scribbled slam he doesn't. If he insists it's important, that how someone died is important, he should be including those names. Barker and Cortez are not in dispute. They took part in the gang-rape. They've had their day in court. They confessed.

Repeating, Green maintains his innocence. Barker and Cortez have confessed (and fingered him as the ringleader in their own testimonies).

So why would someone focus on Green? Why would they argue he "was charged" when there is nothing past tense about the charges against Green?

It's a cute little rewriting -- like Kappy's war 'criticism' -- that turns War Crimes into the problems of one person, one bad apple -- apparently 'rotten' before he ever went to Iraq.

At the Article 32 hearing in August 2006, military prosecutor Captain Alex Pickands argued: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable." "They." A plural. He was speaking of Cortez, Barker, Spielman and Howard. Green is alleged to have been present but Green wasn't part of the Article 32 hearing (he had been discharged from the military already which is why he's facing a civilian court and not a military one).

Kappy's version of 'reality' tells readers that Abeer was "raped" and murdered (as well as "her family") by Green. Kappy wants to ride his pony to town on De Palma using photos at the end of a film and carp that these photos (which, again, the company has redacted) go to some problem with the movie because they don't tell who died, how they died and "who killed them" but, in his own space, he doesn't bother to cover those issues with regards to Abeer. In fact, he can't even bring himself to name Abeer -- let alone her sister or parents.

He also can't name the ones who have been convicted. It's a cute little fantasy where Green, all by himself, is responsible. And he's a 'recruiters' nightmare.' Oh that trickster! The mighty trickster Green! Fooling those poor recruiters! Actually, he was one recruiter's wet dream. He was recruited right after he was busted. He shouldn't have been recruited due to his history of legal problems and other things. But let's not call him a "nightmare" for recruiters when his past was known and his recruiter actively worked to get him a waiver. He was one more towards meeting a quota, he was a recruiter's wet dream.

To repeat, he is also the only one accused of direct participation (Barker and Cortez's testimony has them raping Abeer while Green took her parents and sister into a bedroom and shot them dead, he then rejoined them -- according to their testimony -- and took part in the gang-rape) who has not had his day in court. Two of her rapists have confessed in court.

They don't fit the 'logic' Kappy's trying to sell which is that 'De Palma's film is over the top and, goodness me, the actual events the film is based upon is just the work of one social misfit that turned out to be a nightmare.'

That's LYING.

Green's record was known when he was recruited. Green, if the testimony of others proves to be correct, is the ringleader. However, he was also the least educated and no one's come forward to tell a tale of the troubled childhoods of the others involved. They were apparently 'upstanding' people. And that's what's at the heart of De Palma's film, the War Crimes, the way events shape and alter people.

Kappy intentionally misses that to write his slam. He reduces a gang-rape to one rapist. He goes with the rapist that can be used to say, "See, he was bad before he went to war. That's what happened. That's why this happened." That's not reality. Kappy can't handle the reality on screen and he can't handle reality in real life.

In Kappy's World of Crappy, he can rewrite history and LIE. He can reduce a conspiracy to rape and murder a young girl down to one person's actions. He can overlook the fact that Green was known to be lusting after the underage girl and that it wasn't an issue to his 'buddies.' They weren't appalled by that. Grown men who knew that, if they were in the US, and slept with an underage girl, even with her consent, they would be up on statutory rape charges weren't just willing to look the other way on a gang-rape, they were willing to take part in planning it. They were willing to see it as normal. As they did when Green touched Abeer inappropriately in public -- he and the others ran a checkpoint in her neighborhood.

If Green's guilty, his actions are criminal. He is a War Criminal if he's guilty. (Yes, I think he's guilty but a court will decide that.) But so are the actions of the others involved -- and the military courts have held that the actions were criminal. You don't have Green by himself, the way Kappy portrays it, you have several War Criminals.

But being honest and telling that story would raise issues that make Kappy uncomfortable. So he reduces War Crimes, a criminal conspiracy, down to one person.

Again, the others are not known to have had any legal troubles in childhood. They are all thought to be 'upstanding' prior to the incident. They weren't stationed in Abeer's neighborhood to pick up women let alone to plot to rape an underage girl. They were stationed there to provide the area with protection. Instead, it was a bunch of jokes, a bunch of ha-has. A bunch of leering. It continued and got more and more inappropriate until finally they're plotting how to gang rape and murder her, how to get through the family's fence, who will be lookout, how they will cover it up, etc.

Oh, yes, the cover up.

'Terrorists' killed Abeer and her family. That was the cover story. To destroy evidence, the US soldiers involved attempted to set Abeer's body on fire. That was part of the plan as well. In May 2006, what was announced as a retaliation move for those War Crimes would take place and US service members would be tortured and killed, their corpses mutilated. That's when Justin Watt would come forward with what he was hearing. If he was hearing it, others in the unit probably were as well. Only Watt came forward and did what the military says you are supposed to. (And the military 'repaid' him with one non-stop witch hunt after another.)

Kappy can't tell you any of that either. He can't because he doesn't like that story (he certainly doesn't like it on screen). He calls the film 'war porn' -- a term we've used here repeatedly but we use it to describe rah-rah nonsense that sells war and turns it into a game. That's not what De Palma's film does.

The story of Abeer is a story of War Crimes. Kappy reduces it to one lone misfit. The realities are much deeper and more complex. Kappy has to lie because he can't face those realities and that, in the end, is why he can't stomach De Palma's Redacted.

Scribbling his distortions, lies and half-truths, lets him deny the very nature of the War Crimes that took place. A critic who can't face reality isn't much of a critic and Kappy should stick to his crappy gas bagging. A critic who white washes War Crimes when the criminals have entered guilty pleas and been sentenced is praciting war porn.

To close this out, reviewing means some people will like your opinion, some won't. The fact that Kappy thinks the film is awful isn't the issue. The issue is that he can't critique the film by the own set of standards he pretends to profess. His review is bad writing for that reason. His slamming of the film goes to the fact that he's selling future illegal wars (better planned ones, to be sure) and that requires that he turn War Crimes by several members of the US military into one lone individual. That reduction is why he can't stand the film -- a piece of fiction offers more reality than he does in a supposed non-fiction piece of alleged thought.

Make a point to see Redacted -- a film that makes the right-winger (O'Lielly) and the 'better planning next time!' crowd uncomfortable. (Kappy expresses "discomforting" over the US dividing up a foreign country but feels it's the only 'alternative' . . . for the US -- a 'compassionate' imperialist).



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