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kevbo's avatar

Does it give you pause when a true story of psychic warfare is sold as a comedic film?

Asked by kevbo (24472 points ) November 6th, 2009 from iPhone

Not that other serious topics or events haven’t been remade into comedies (e.g. Springtime for Hitler), but what about something both serious and quite incredible that’s first steps into the mass market are immediately satirical?

The author of the nonfiction book upon which “The Men Who Stare at Goats” is based gave this somewhat reality warping interview. To wit:

Yes. I really believe that to be the case. I think what happened was Psi Ops saw an opportunity. I don’t think you need to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that is true. Just today by coincidence I saw that original Newsweek article that first broke the Barney story back in 2003. I think that Psi Ops could see that Newsweek wanted it to be a funny story, the idea of musical torture, and they just jumped on it as a possibility because when you’ve got a funny, slapstick story about torture that’s so enjoyable nobody’s going to want to try and find a darker story about torture.

I think Psi Ops seized on that opportunity and did a bit of psi ops on all of us. Everybody thought the Barney story was funny at the time, and it was only when Abu Ghraib happened a few months later—I think there was about six months between the Barney story coming out and the Abu Ghraib story coming out—and for those six months American Psi Ops had completely won. Torture was funny and poor old groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were trying to convince people that actually torture wasn’t quite as funny as everybody thought it was. But then nobody wanted to hear that because everybody wanted to have a good laugh.

Before considering this question, was this something you had given thought to? How does this juxtaposition of concept and tone shake out for you?

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10 Answers

shilolo's avatar

Personally, I would like to see some positive evidence that this type of activity (i.e. psychic warfare) is real before passing any judgement.

kevbo's avatar

Yeah, I probably should have clarified… maybe psychic in the sense of “mental”—and leaving the goat story out of the equation for the moment. So, considering the weight of the remainder.

dpworkin's avatar

So, I am to worry whether or not it’s OK that something that didn’t happen was traduced by writers?

galileogirl's avatar

On the contrary. When intelligence agencies have free rein due to lsck of oversight, most of their results are the deepest tragedy or the highest comedy.

janbb's avatar

I have more of a problem with a film like Inglorious Basterds which totally distorts known truth for puerile titillation

kevbo's avatar

@gallileogirl, touché.

gailcalled's avatar

I have been staring at a lot of domestic animals for a long time, living where I do. Sadly, they controlled my legs and had me running away often.

kevbo's avatar

So the goat is the new Barney. Ha ha, I get it now.

@janbb, I haven’t seen Inglourious Basterds, but I’ll keep your comment in mind if I do.

tinyfaery's avatar

The title is a bit comedic. Hard to turn that into a serious film. And I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t really have an opinion.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have no intention of seeing the movie, but if other people find that sort of thing entertaining, that’s their right.

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