Not the Enemy Media
last edited October 30, 2004 11:15 PST
Not The Enemy Media was formed to complete and distribute the feature documentary, "Over 9 Billion Dead Served." In this movie the camera is digitally turned back on the filmmakers of America's favorite movies to examine what they've created. Given their responses, it is apparent that some of them don't like seeing this analysis of their work (although on February 2, 2004 -- a final settlement was reached in litigation with the last of nine sets of defendants -- StudioCanal Image !)
The objective is to illustrate the lessons that America's favorite films provide on how to experience death and dying. This process entails providing evidence in support of eleven hypotheses that came out of the content analysis of the films. Who gets killed? How? Why? By whom? What is the emotional response to death within the movie? Who stays dead? Who is magically resurrected? The findings are incredible. Through this process, the vocabulary of violence that filmmakers use to make murder profitable is revealed.
Why is this worth looking at? I submit, but cannot prove, that the techniques used by the filmmakers, are the same as those used by politicians to get us to kill other people. Additionally, I submit that it is the same vocabulary of violence that we use in our own minds when we intentionally murder each other. With filmmakers, politicians, and everyone else, the vocabulary of violence is the same. They teach it to us and we are encouraged to use it on others. And we do. Would projecting the light of this documentary expose that vocabulary in such as way as to decrease the carnage? I think so. If there must be killing, let it follow debate, not the dehumanization of the Black, ugly, invisible, Arab, freedom-hating, hole-dwelling, evil-doer enemies. However reprehensible your, my, or our enemies may be -- they are all human.
If you ever get to see "Over 9 Billion Dead Served," you may very well not like it. You may even hate it. Perhaps the strength of your dislike will harbinger the potential of the lessons at hand. Whatever your case, I am confident, that you will never forget it.
Over 9 Billion Dead Served" is unique in the history of film making in a variety of ways. Some of these become evident in the Synopsis.
Eleven Hypotheses are supported by the visual evidence presented in "Over 9 Billion Dead Served."
There is a also a list of documentary Chapters.
Formed in 2002, Not the Enemy Media acquired the rights to the feature length educational documentary "Over 9 Billion Dead Served" from me. Although it appears that conflicts over copyright versus First Amendment and Fair Use issues has now embroiled the young company in litigation, several other projects are in development. It is hoped that Not The Enemy Media can use combinations of new digital technologies, the internet, and old fashioned critical thinking skills to help enhance the quality of public discourse. This objective is being pursued through the analysis of broadcast imagery, including that of feature films, news, and speeches.
In the beginning, there were questions. Through personal experience in caring for dying friends and relatives with varying levels of skill, questions arose. I didn't feel very good at coping with grief either even though circumstances gave me numerous chances to practice when I was quite young. Those experiences were attention grabbers much more profound than the creation of illusion at LucasFilm ever had been for me. Moreover, at least in my case, such experience tended to change my reading of newspaper articles like the few (very few) recent ones about blowing many dozens of poor people to bits during a wedding party in Afghanistan. Such experience made endeavors around and contemplation of other events seem unimportant. Thus, in the beginning, there was this question: Before reaching hospitals, hospices, and mortuaries, how are Americans prepared to cope with death and dying? What examples had been provided to us? Almost immediately, it was apparent that most of the examples were delivered, not in school by teachers, but in flickering light by theatrical movies and television. It was with these innocent thoughts, and no thoughts of conflict with corporate America, that "Over 9 Billion Dead Served" was created and the battle began.
In trying to gain insight into how people learn to experience death and dying through visual media, one of the challenges lays in trying to decide how to select a sample for study. The hypothetical possibilities abound. All movies? All U.S. movies? All U.S. TV? All 2002 movies? All 1995 TV? Television news broadcasts televised between 1999 and 2001? The preceding would all yield interesting data, but would each be immense undertakings in terms of labor, accessibility, and cost. Picking and choosing personal "favorites" might be easier, but could be faulted as being biased, unrepresentative selections. Every study design has its weaknesses and investigators appropriately seek to mitigate them as the search for "truth" and understanding is an empirically slippery undertaking -- even without bad design (i.e., uncontrolled variables). In this project, favorites as determined by box office revenues harbingered interesting results. Had the depth of "interesting" been anticipated, I probably would have bowed to the economies of short term economics and chickened out. Life on earth may be poopy in lots of ways, but for many Americans at least, there are an astonishing number of interesting and at least hypothetically worthwhile things to do. Naively, and with optimism and excitement, the decision was made to study the 25 Most Successful Films in American box office history. I speculated that choosing those movies would provide samples as near as my local video store, would make the original data available to anyone who wanted to investigate or critique further, and would yield findings that would feel widely relevant because so many people have seen the original movies.
The aforementioned hypotheses are based on those films. In this moment, the hypotheses remain just that. The data cannot be said representative of any group but the sampled group, and yet, viewers may find worthwhile and provocative insights are revealed -- or will be revealed if Not The Enemy Media prevails in court. The Emperor, Hans Solo, and their cinematic associates get surprisingly naked in the light of deconstruction as they use weapons of mass destruction, remorselessly murder "the enemy," and laugh when killing people.
Pete Livingston, Ph.D.
researcher, media analyst, and president
Not The Enemy Media, LLC
What do YOU think?
Do you think the stories we tell each other are influential?
Do you think that life should be treated with dignity and respect?
Do you think that death and dying are important experiences?
Do you think that these kinds of questions ought to be asked of the world's most powerful storytellers?
Copyright © Pete Livingston