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What's in the banner?
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
One of the human shields still in Baghdad is Australian. I'm going to pick on this guy, for reasons I'll get to in a minute. But first, while I was googling around for information on him, I found this interesting item in the Sydney Morning Herald, from last December 26:
Whose propaganda? Iraqi? Or US?
So sayeth an unnamed spokesman for the Institute for Public Accuracy, who organized Congressmen McDermott, Bonior, and Thompson's trip to Baghdad, as well as Sean Penn's.
The SMH identifies Ms. Trotochaud only as one of the "members of a US delegation" who had been to Baghdad. Fortunately, she has a funny name, so I can google her up and find that she's a a "human rights activist and potter". She spent a year in the federal pen for repeat trespass at the School of the Americas. That's the only credential this site, which must be the delegation mentioned, has for her.
Ms. Trotochaud is evidently too naive to believe anyone could be that naive.
So, anyhow: As of December 26, the "peace people" were scoffing at the idea that anyone would actually go to Baghdad to be a human shield.
Now, for our Aussie mate. He's Gordon Sloan, who was a...contestant?...on the Australian version of Big Brother. I never watched that show in any of its incarnations. Those reality shows leave me cold, ever since MTV's The Real World. For me, hell is other people, so I could never understand the attraction of watching other people enjoy the hell that is one another. Especially since most of those people were on the show to exhibit themselves in hopes of catching some minor celebrity wave: extreeeeeme sports commentator, supermodel, VJ, whatever. But, before I got cable in Australia, there was often little to watch on TV. So occasionally (probably while my MST tape was rewinding) I would catch glimpses of the show.
The only thing I remember is that it featured some scrawny chick with a voice like sheet metal. When I tuned in she was expressing concern about her "teets"---that is to say, "tits", said in a sheet metal-cutting Australian accent. She showed them to us (this is Australian TV, remember); I was underwhelmed, but I am no authority on these things. I do know that every time she said "teets", one of the glass jars in the recycling bin would give a thin scream of anguish, then shatter.
Later another (or the same, hard to tell) scrawny chick was shown in bed with a guy, self-consciously engaged in a bit of slap-and-tickle (and I mean that literally, rather than metaphorically) under the sheets for our enjoyment. By that time I had another tape ready, so I was spared further joy.
Our young Mr. Sloan fits into this environment perfectly. Today, Tim Blair points us to this brief profile of Sloan, in which it is revealed that he does not read books, and that his favorite movies are Final Fantasy: The Movie and eXistenZ. The first movie is derived from a video game; the second is about a virtual reality game.
Now, I've certainly been on the receiving end of enough sneers from snotty, superior critics who denigrate science fiction and fantasy, so I don't want to turn into one of them. But---really---these are his two favorite movies? Presumably he bases his opinions on technical expertise rather than writing, plot, acting, art direction, cinematography and so forth, because this page also says that he was "moving from architecture into 3D animation for films". He also "describes himself as a dot.com kind of guy. Whatever that means."
I would say that it sounds like he's the kind of enegetic yet unfocused fellow who prefers to get in on the ground floor of a Hot! New! Thing! rather than go through the hard work of building up expertise in an established field, but since I did the latter, that just be my bias.
On the other hand, maybe not, since when asked about fame he says:
Well, that shows a certain self-awareness, anyway, although I'll point out that he goes along with this willingly.
Then there's this article about Sloan's human shield activities:
He doesn't seem particularly convinced that his own precious carcass will stop bombs from falling, but he's eager to exploit "the media's" fascination with Western casualties. I'm not entirely sure he's grasped the point that he might be one of those casualties. This article also says he's taking a video camera with him; I'm betting he plans more on documenting casualties than on being one.
I was wondering where he got this idea that "Western" casualties were somehow more interesting than non-Western ones. I suspect it's from stories like today's, where we find that 21 people were killed, including one American. Those horrid Americans---thinking they're the only ones who matter! Except that this sort of thing was true for the Australian media, too.
I don't think the deaths of Westerners who have volunteered to die for a thuggish regime will have quite the same resonance in Western media as those who died while waiting at the airport.
The media aspects of it were apparently a lot more interesting to Sloan than were the political or humanitarian issues:
You can't say the same thing of America though---he's researched us thoroughly:
(That article brought to us by Tim Blair.)
This is why I have singled Sloan out for special attention. What Hussein's done doesn't seem to bother him---he's not even interested in finding out. If I had gotten the idea into my head to go "shield" someone many people referred to as a tyrant, I'd at least read up a bit before I left, just in case they were right. Sloan is like Grace Knight, naked protest organizer, who admitted that she was confused on this whole business of "facts", but she knew war was icky and wrong.
This article in The Age reports that:
I still think he doesn't believe he's going to be a casualty, but at least he's right about this. (Here it's explained that the organizers thought they could get five or ten thousand people to show up, and there'd be no war. Since they didn't have that many, there's no reason to stick around.)
The other day I mentioned this article in the SMH:
Laugh while you can, Monkey Boy. Maybe you'll face war crimes charges too.
And by the chance of getting in some guerilla journalism, just in case the Sydney Morning Herald or the Guardian ever launches a TV network. (Unless the BBC will want him.)
I shall watch his future career with considerable interest.