Objective Nonsense (part 11)

“Ranging over a third of the earth, good-will ambassadors of the United States Navy strengthen our ties with the free nations of Asia.”
— NGM cover story, September 1959 (below)

Dear Chris Johns,

Is this an example of what you recently described as National Geographic‘s 120-year commitment to an “unbiased presentation of facts”?

— Your friends @ Society Matters

  • Sig2noise

    Have you seen who produced Restrapo…

  • Weihuang2606
  • No, I hadn't seen who produced Restrepo — but I just did. Looks like a fascinating film.

    Re: “objectivity” — is this film “just the facts” or is it making a particular argument? Would love to hear your thoughts, Sig2noise.

    I thought the Directors Message was quite telling:

    “Directors Statement
    The war in Afghanistan has become highly politicized, but soldiers rarely take part in that discussion. Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives; we did not sit down with their families, we did not interview Afghans, we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one's political beliefs. Beliefs are a way to avoid looking at reality. This is reality.
    – Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger”

    In other words: Restrepo looks like a war story without any context — i.e. why U.S. soldiers are in Afghanistan in the first place. Clearly that history is part of the “reality,” though not the one that Hetherington & Junger chose to include.

    And that 1959 NGM story about the U.S. Navy? That was all about context — about trying to explain the overall mission of the Pacific fleet. Not “day-to-day life on an aircraft carrier” – but why the U.S. projected its power so far from home. Seems like an entirely different POV than Restrepo.

    Which is really my point: Everyone has a point of view. Even Chris Johns, whether he admits it or not.

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