Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? (2008)

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Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? (2008)

Postby justindeimen » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:31 am



When Albert Brooks tried to reconfigure a massive cultural chasm into chuckles in the meta-comic "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World", he admitted markedly failure in finding common ground - Americans weren't ready to laugh, but more importantly, they weren't ready. This was way back in 2005 when the War on Terror still had that new car smell. Now, Morgan Spurlock of "Super Size Me" fame follows Brooks' muddled footsteps into oblivion as he looks for cheap stunts in the Muslim world. Not for any sort of truth or insight, but vulgar shtick. To call this a documentary or even a docu-comedy would seem fallacious to the standings of both genres.

Spurlock just isn't as interesting or humourous a personality as he assumes himself to be, which only serves to antagonise the idea of its premise being an odyssey into the treacherous abyss to find the world's most wanted man with only Spurlock as tour guide. He frames this sudden epiphany of a "dangerous [post-9/11] world" with his wife getting pregnant. It's a faux-earnest set-up - interspersed with ridiculous allusions to his impending fatherhood and his superfluous wife's presence in the film when it cuts away back home - that becomes increasingly embarrassing as the film wears on, especially when it starts to become an excuse for Spurlock's failures and insecurities over his ill-conceived mission.

Approaching this staged existential quandary from a place of blissful ignorance towards the Muslim world, Spurlock feigns mock surprise at how different the Muslim population is compared to America's perception of it was - they aren't all violent terrorists! Cut to Spurlock's histrionic astonishment over that nugget of information. And just as how easily he made his mock-realisation that a constant stream of fast food led to a death wish seem almost a quaint discovery, Spurlock leads the audience to think that he's doing some bold investigative work here by superficially interviewing the hoi polloi of the Gaza Strip and so-called relatives of Osama Bin Laden in Egypt. He makes his unexpected ejection from an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Israel become his glib counterpoint to the idea that Muslims aren't bad eggs, but that Middle Eastern religiosity is just plain screwy and insular.

Spurlock frequently pollutes his geographical opportunity into pure performance. He makes a dog and pony show about the sociopolitical strife in the region when he obviously knows better. His rehearsed, pandered surprise at the world outside of Manhattan shows a man who doesn't think squat of his audience's own comprehensions on the Middle East since 9/11 and his film ends up becoming just as shallow as his phony-baloney egoist brand of "documentaries".

And only Spurlock seems equipped to turn his cultural ignorance into cultural arrogance - completing his transformation into a boorish man-with-a-camera into a Michael Moore-ish buffoon oblivious to his own chicanery. He insincerely coheres his film into a single, predictably trivial idea that these Middle-Easterners are just like us - from their love of family to their ultimate pursuit of peace on their land. Except Spurlock doesn't really believe that. To him, they are like us but they aren't really. His entire self-centred view of the Middle East engenders the film as a wholly facetious work of manipulation and even more egregiously, is ultimately condescending to the very subjects Spurlock explicitly extols at the end of his film.
Perhaps we get the real glimpse of Spurlock as a person when he deigns to ask a jocular Egyptian man whether he was about to blow up his car or when he dons distinctively Arabic garb and starts randomly assaulting Saudi Arabian women in the mall about Bin Laden's whereabouts. It is a particularly contemptible redneck hustle that only reveals Morgan Spurlock as the sort of Ugly American that his Middle Eastern interviewees denounce as the true cause of their cultural discordance. Who can blame them?
justindeimen
 


Re: Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? (2008)

Postby hengcs » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:23 am

so, i guess i shldnt spend $10 watching?!
or shld i?!
hengcs
 


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