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Somalis cheer at bootleg "Blackhawk down" screening
January 22, 2002 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Somalis cheer at bootleg "Blackhawk down" screening Somali citizens paid the equivalent of US $.10 to see a bootleg copy of the movie in a playground in downtown Mogadishu on Monday. The audience cheered at scenes where American troops were killed and American choppers were shot down. Somalia may be the next target in the 'War on Terrorism'. "As you can see, Somalis are brave fighters," one man said. "If the Americans come back to fight us, we shall defeat them again."
posted by SpecialK (51 comments total)

 
Other MeFi reference: link
posted by SpecialK at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2002


This reminds me of that Tom Petty song, "You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee." Apparently they want to live like refugees. Good for them.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:49 AM on January 22, 2002


come on, insom; don't start the troll-baiting. poverty is an extreme; is it any wonder extreme attitudes should be?
posted by moz at 11:54 AM on January 22, 2002


Ok ok... it's not their fault, it's the system in which they live that is to blame, but to be proud that it took 1000+ somalis to kill 18 Americans seems sad and futile.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2002


I'm sorry, but as someone who works as a filmic storyteller, I think this is funny. Historical accuracy/inaccuracy aside, the film itself is so bad that this kind of response just serves as a further indicator of the ways it doesn't work...that is, the ways it doesn't work in which it was meant to work. They tried to portray the soldiers as the victims (and maybe that's accurate), but they did it so poorly that it easily reads as a fable of a disadvataged population coming together to face an oppressive enemy. That side may be accurate too, in fact; the idea of a movie that shows it both ways, and still gets you involved, is admirable. But this wasn't it.
posted by bingo at 12:00 PM on January 22, 2002


Ok ok... it's not their fault, it's the system in which they live that is to blame, but to be proud that it took 1000+ somalis to kill 18 Americans seems sad and futile.

It may be sad but it is not futile. They did achieve one of the objectives: US Withdrawl. Third World nations throwing bodies in a grinder has produced military victories against the U.S. in the not so distant past.
posted by srboisvert at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2002


so when the somalian viewers in mogadishu are viewing a film about their countrymen fighting foreign soldiers, they are supposed to cheer for the foreigners?

whatever, dude. i sense an onion parody tomorrow.
posted by lescour at 12:09 PM on January 22, 2002


for someone who's a filmmaker, bingo, you should know better than most of us that an audience will see whatever it wants to in a film -- particularly when the audience is starving and militant. it's hardly a commentary on the merits of the film.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2002


CNN again proves its reputation as a trustworthy, unalarmist news source -- y'know, just like when they reported those Palestinians dancing in the street.
posted by tweebiscuit at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2002


Is it too much to think the US govt might have had something to do with this screening? To drum up support for military action?

This is just my gut reaction.
posted by awcole72 at 12:22 PM on January 22, 2002


CNN again proves its reputation as a trustworthy, unalarmist news source -- y'know, just like when they reported those Palestinians dancing in the street.

Me, I don't trust any news source but members.aol.com
posted by boaz at 12:34 PM on January 22, 2002


What the heck is a filmic storyteller?

And tweebuscuit, disregard CNN all you want but it did happen. I dares ya to call snopes a liar.

Double dog dare ya.
posted by Dagobert at 12:47 PM on January 22, 2002


Tweebiscuit, did you just insinuate CNN is alarmist, and then turn around and cynically imply that the video was, in fact, faked? How about the Osama video, also faked?

*rubs eyes in comical disbelief, a la Jon Stewart*
posted by Karl at 12:56 PM on January 22, 2002


From Snopes: "a news report accompanied by current footage is not necessarily either fair or accurate. A simple news clip doesn't always provide us with enough context to discern what the people depicted in it are reacting to, why they're reacting the way they are, or whether their actions are representative of a large group of people or a very small one"
posted by cell divide at 12:58 PM on January 22, 2002


what's a filmic storyteller?

Are you saying if Ridley Scott had done a better job then all the Somalis would have said, "Damn, we were really hard on those soldiers. I guess they really were the victims, after all."
posted by David Dark at 12:59 PM on January 22, 2002


What the heck is a filmic storyteller?

A pretentious unemployed individual with a trivial connection to the movie business.

Either that or Darren Aronofsky has join the mefi ranks. (He seems to refer to himself as a storyteller more often than a filmmaker.)
posted by sexymofo at 1:10 PM on January 22, 2002


Next to Will Rogers, Dana Atchley was the greatest American storyteller. All others are dreck.
posted by m@ at 1:22 PM on January 22, 2002


Let 'em cheer. Tomorrow they wake up in Somalia.

That's punishment enough.
posted by UncleFes at 1:54 PM on January 22, 2002


i haven't seen blackhawk yet...but i have read a lot of excerpts and interviews from the book, etc... My impression was that it doesn't portray the US troops as victims so much as it just presents the chaotic events of a really fucked up operation. The somalis did their job, the americans tried to do theirs, story presented without the usual amount of moral posturing.

is this totally wrong? why shouldn't the somalis cheer? really? from their point of view? Big deal. From the accounts i read, the somalis near the UN base cheered the returning troops. Wacky place. Did the movie represent them fairly?

I wonder if Braveheart did better in scotland than in england.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:09 PM on January 22, 2002


I was waiting for something like this to happen. And I'm not at all surprised by the reaction of insomnyuk types. Someone made this point above, but I'll try it a different way, Nationalism is not a pretty thing. It is not reassuring to watch people simplistically cheer for their side without more complex thought of the larger issues. But Americans certainly do it to.

You can find any sort of militant group in any society, we have our own freemen and militias that like to send anthrax to media and democrats and blow up federal office buildings and abortion clinics.

I have said this before on Mefi, but I live in a city with the largest Somali community in the U.S. so I have done some thinking and talking about this with Somalis I know. Somalia is still going through civil war due in large part to conflicts that go back to colonial times when lines were drawn by France and Italy. They are very poor and there has been so much suffering. Of course you can find examples of the worst in people there.

As far as CNN goes this is hardly a news story as much as a patriotism primer for the next phase of "America's New War". The thing is though, the people I talk to would welcome U.S. intervention if it brought the kind of security for nation building that happened in Afghanistan. This kind of nation building that prevents failed states ripe for terrorist bases has always been opposed by the Republicans. Penny wise and pound foolish.
posted by chrismc at 2:10 PM on January 22, 2002


i've seen at least two other people post the link to this story elsewhere with the intro: "this makes me so mad!". i imagine that makes the writer of this agitprop right proud.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 2:18 PM on January 22, 2002


Please qualify your statement chrismc, I didn't know I was a metafilter archetype.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2002


predictably reactionary,

This reminds me of that Tom Petty song, "You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee." Apparently they want to live like refugees. Good for them.

lacking complex thought.
posted by chrismc at 2:33 PM on January 22, 2002


MetaFilter: lacking complex thought.
posted by gd779 at 2:40 PM on January 22, 2002


I'm not making a generalization about MeFi. There are many people on my MeFi I disagree with, but I repect them because they are able to articulate a well thought out opinion. That's my whole point don't generalize about Somali's because of what CNN is able to find in some Somalis. I wonder how that bootleg tape made it over so fast.
posted by chrismc at 3:03 PM on January 22, 2002


From the article:
"As you can see, Somalis are brave fighters," one man said. "If the Americans come back to fight us, we shall defeat them again."

This man has an odd understanding of "defeat". 18 Americans were killed and 73 wounded compared to about 500 Somalis killed (some exaggerated Somali reports say over 1000 were killed) and thousands wounded.

Furthermore, the mission was technically successful. To quote the Philly Inquirer,
In strictly military terms, Mogadishu was a success. The targets of that day's raid - two obscure clan leaders named Omar Salad and Mohamed Hassan Awale - were apprehended.

Of course, the UN's overall mission of "nation building" and toppling the Somali warlord's regime was a failure. So I guess the Somali man means that he squelched the UN's attempt to relieve him from abject poverty, famine and oppression. That’s what he defeated.

As for Somalis being “brave fighters”, a common tactic was for men to hide behind their wife and kids as they shot at American soldiers. Others would camouflage themselves in the crowd of non-combatant onlookers so that the Rangers would be less likely to fire into crowds or through women and children to hit their target.
If his national pride is so important that he would hide behind his wife and children as he shoots at Army Rangers, then, well, I don't know.

I don't know how to help people who don't want to be helped.
posted by ktheory at 3:03 PM on January 22, 2002


That's my whole point don't generalize about Somali's because of what CNN is able to find in some Somalis.

Sure. But how is a group of Somali immigrants living in the US representative of Somalis in general? Those that decided to leave probably have a significantly different world-view from those who decided to stay.
posted by boaz at 3:36 PM on January 22, 2002


of a movie that shows it both ways, and still gets you involved, is admirable. But this wasn't it.

I think this is closer to what the movie sought and accomplished than you're giving it credit for. The movie, while it only humanized the American soldiers through whose eyes the audience experiences the action, had a pretty stark structure: Thus it is not all that surprising that the movie seemed to an anti-American audience to have all the validating "evidence" for the Somali combatants' perspective. I think this does show the film's measure of success in presenting war with a narrative perspective but without an overwhelming moral perspective imposed.

Yes, I know the Black Hawk Down battle was a pretty aberrant, pathetic, and troubling example of "war"...
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:38 PM on January 22, 2002


Sure. But how is a group of Somali immigrants living in the US representative of Somalis in general? Those that decided to leave probably have a significantly different world-view from those who decided to stay.

They were able to leave? What are they going to do, attempt to swim to the US?

Leaving a third world country AND getting admittance into the US is a lot harder than you think... especially when you're dirt poor.
posted by Aikido at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2002


And tweebuscuit, disregard CNN all you want but it did happen. I dares ya to call snopes a liar.

Double dog dare ya.


I'll take that dare.

Actually snopes is not a liar, it's not a question of whether the tape was ten years old or not (it wasn't) but whether the scene was completely contrived and manipulated by the camera crew to create the desired effect.
posted by lagado at 4:15 PM on January 22, 2002


What Black Hawk Down Leaves Out
posted by lagado at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2002


Sorry if I was unclear, Aikido. I was comparing Somali immigrants living in the US (the group that chrismc has experience with) to Somalis still living in Somalia (the group in the CNN story), not to Somalis living anywhere. Most Somali emigrants live in Ethiopia and Kenya, Somalia's two neighbors. I assume that's a significantly shorter swim.
posted by boaz at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2002


The dancing Palestinians: there was a German investigative TV programme a few weeks after 09/11 -- my memory says mid-November but I could be wrong; it was on the web as streaming video for a while too -- that looked into the film in more detail. Crucially, they showed the Reuters out-takes from before and after the clip that everyone saw. And yes, the "crowd" was never more than about twelve people, roughly half of them kids.
posted by Hogshead at 4:30 PM on January 22, 2002



Let 'em cheer. Tomorrow they wake up in Somalia.

That's punishment enough.


Well, hell fire. Those damned Somalis. They're so unlike us (we're the good guys, got it?) Next thing ya know they'll be even MORE pro-Somali...probably buying new Ford-Somali Explorers with zero percent financing and putting small Somali flags in the windows. Terrorists. They're all terrorists I tell you.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:41 PM on January 22, 2002


Good posts Chrismc Thanks
posted by onegoodmove at 4:55 PM on January 22, 2002


I'll take that dare.

I had forgot to include members.tripod.com along with members.aol.com in my trusted news source list. I don't think CNN has anything to fear from this hare-brained speculation. The main problem with this 'they were reacting to being given treats' hypothesis is that one of the partiers specifically praises bin Laden on the tape. And that it wasn't the camera crew providing the treats; it was one of the partiers. And that the whole idea that grown women will dance for candy right after learning of the WTC attacks is kinda silly. And that they were already celebrating before the camera crew approached them.

And yes, the "crowd" was never more than about twelve people, roughly half of them kids.

Yes, but larger demonstrations occurred in PA-controlled West Bank towns. The real story here is that footage of these celebrations was censored by the PA. This is mentioned at snopes.
posted by boaz at 5:22 PM on January 22, 2002


I am impressed by the ability of mefi'ers to trust popular mass media news stations, and then argue those other people's points. What happened to personal opinion/gut feeling...etc etc
posted by bittennails at 6:02 PM on January 22, 2002


ktheory said: "As for Somalis being “brave fighters”, a common tactic was for men to hide behind their wife and kids as they shot at American soldiers. Others would camouflage themselves in the crowd of non-combatant onlookers so that the Rangers would be less likely to fire into crowds or through women and children to hit their target."

Well, as odious as that is, it's war. USAF bombers attack from out of enemy range don't they? Don't special forces attack when an enemy is at its most vulnerable? C'mon buddy, you have to do what you have to do to win and not get killed yourself. Being a 'brave fighter' has little to do with it.
posted by skinsuit at 6:48 PM on January 22, 2002


Ktheory's opinions are like a bully's [on the winning side] all whinining for just cause and when they get kicked it's all whine and blubber.
posted by bittennails at 7:05 PM on January 22, 2002


As for Somalis being “brave fighters”, a common tactic was for men to hide behind their wife and kids as they shot at American soldiers. Others would camouflage themselves in the crowd of non-combatant onlookers so that the Rangers would be less likely to fire into crowds or through women and children to hit their target.

I'm no filmic storyteller, but to me "brave" seems to be whatever tactic your side is employing. If 'Irene' (wasn't that Black Hawk Down's mission name?) had been successful, it would have probably been a matter of half a dozen highly-armed, highly-trained, highly-armored American special forces units backed up by air support and in constant radio communication against a small or comparable number of Somali militia armed with, at best, Kalashnikovs and a couple RPGs. And we would still have called ourselves brave. Instead we screwed up and walked into a trap, then had to fight our way out. But we're still brave. Maybe even braver. Nowadays--not to change the subject or anything--we drop bombs and lob missiles at people, and we're all part of one big brave nation. I'm sure the Somalis consider what their dead brothers, husbands and fathers did brave as well. It's all quite subjective.
posted by Hildago at 7:28 PM on January 22, 2002


Wow, bittennails, you even suck at condescension. Are you going to grace us with a post that actually has a comprehensible point anytime soon?
posted by boaz at 7:35 PM on January 22, 2002


now this topic seems to be approaching the thread death it deserves, i can hone in on the most important facets.

does the mpaa know about this bootleg screening, was the internet involved, and will they put any of the offenders in jail?
posted by lescour at 8:00 PM on January 22, 2002


*sigh* Now I know why I don't do front page posts.
posted by SpecialK at 8:59 PM on January 22, 2002


skinsuit/hildago, would you use your wife/children as bullet shields? all's fail in love and war, but come on...
posted by David Dark at 1:09 AM on January 23, 2002


or all's fair, rather.
posted by David Dark at 1:44 AM on January 23, 2002


I think you were right the first time
posted by Grangousier at 1:54 AM on January 23, 2002


Excuse the hell out of me for mentioning my job in the most self-effacing, non-pretentious way I could think of at the time. I do get paid, and part of what I do at this point involves reworking stories conceived by other people so that they will be better movies.

I agree with donkeyschlong in that any starving and militant audience is of course going to view any piece of "art" they see as a metaphor for their own struggle, let alone a film that is actually about their struggle to begin with.

However, I think that the movie represents an effort to present moral complexity through some very conventional Hollywood storytelling techniques that are really too cheesy and obvious to contain the message they were trying to get across. It's a film that tries to get you emotionally absorbed without really justifying that absorbtion, and part of the problem is that they didn't, or wouldn't, or couldn't, portray the moral complexity of the story in a convincing way while retaining the schmaltzy, condescending, faux-slickness that is the hallmark of all Bruckheimer movies.

It's true that different people are going to see a movie in different ways, but after all, the people who make the movie don't (usually) intend it to be an abstract piece of modern art that doesn't in itself indicate anything. Every trick in the storyteller's book (film, fiction, whatever) is ultimately about drawing you into the "reality" of the piece and showing it to you from a certain perspective. You can do it right or you can do it wrong, and I think the creators of Black Hawk Down did a terrible job. If they had intended a sort of Kubrickian or Japanese piece that gets you confused about who to root for but keeps you drawn in anyway, I could respect that. But I really don't think that's what this movie is; you are intended to care deeply about what happens to the Americans. The fact that it so easily reads the other way around is a statement to me about what a bad job they did of conceiving it to begin with. Nazis watching Schindler's List, for example, are, in my opinion, not going to enjoy it, because there is a clear perspective on what you're seeing that permeates everything; that's what carries the movie forward to begin with.
posted by bingo at 2:08 PM on January 23, 2002


The Nazis probably would have cheered when Ralph Feinnes started picking off Jews with a rifle from his balcony. But that's because Nazis don't like Jews, not because Spielberg's a hack who needs a better filmic storyteller on his project.
posted by David Dark at 2:48 PM on January 23, 2002


Yes, but they would have understood quite clearly that the depiction of Nazis in the movie is negative. Because, as you say, Spielberg is not a hack, the Fiennes character is depicted through a combination of lighting, music, dialog, and other sound, framing of shots, Fiennes' own acting of course, etc., that are meant to tap into universal human emotions that more or less compel you to dislike him in a specific way. Contrast with, say, the Matrix, where a number of innocent people are killed, some of them by the heros, but our perspective is, or is meant to be, different. You can always read against the text of the movie, but I don't think Black Hawk Down was a very well-written text to begin with.

For those who wish to continue attacking the way I described my career, please do it here in order to spare the uninterested.
posted by bingo at 3:01 PM on January 23, 2002


But they still might have cheered. And then this thread would be called "Nazis cheer at bootleg Schindler's List screening" and your comments would be equally as misplaced and unsubstantiated.
posted by David Dark at 3:53 PM on January 23, 2002


Yes, and in that hypothetical situation, you might have had a point, too.
posted by bingo at 11:50 PM on January 23, 2002


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