The War You Don’t See
John Pilger’s “The War You Don’t See,” originally released in 2011, is a timely investigation into the media’s role in war, which begs the question: “how much of what we see on television is the truth?” During World War One, for instance, 16 million died and 21 million were wounded. But the gruesome images of disfigured spirit-less bodies that had been disrespectfully thrown about by the angry force of explosives, were conveniently kept from the public. Instead people flocked to the theaters to watch war reports in which thousands of young soldiers waved happily as they marched by, and others played with stray dogs. And so people believed that war was not so bad. They believed that the “friendly” images they had seen were accurate. The reality was entirely different, though. In fact, the British Prime Minister at the time, David Lloyd George stated during a private interview that “if people really knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t and can’t know.”
This documentary traces the history of news reporting from the massacre known as World War One to the annihilation of Hiroshima, and from the invasion of Vietnam to the present war in Afghanistan and the disaster in Iraq. As weapons and war propaganda become even more refined, journalists take on a crucial role and civilians are victimized. But who is the real enemy?
In the words of John Pilger: “We journalists… have to be brave enough to defy those who seek our collusion in selling their latest bloody adventure in someone else’s country… That means always challenging the official story, however patriotic that story may appear, however seductive and insidious it is. For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions, not at a faraway country, but at you at home… In this age of endless imperial war, the lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us… Those whose job it is to keep the record straight ought to be the voice of people, not power.”