By lex, on April 20th, 2011
There have been a lot of bad GWOT movies. A lot of Hollywood executives greenlighting frank and open anti-Americanism and enthusiastically endorsing hostility to the military forces whose mission includes protecting their own right to hold fashionable opinions that condescend to middle America and its bourgeois values, even as they profit lavishly from their exploitation. Values like honor, patriotism and valor.
Old fashioned stuff.
Nearly all of these directors, producers and screenwriters have done so from the safe distance of coastal California, content to place equally vapid marquis faces above their tired tropes and timeworn prejudices.
One man put his skin in the game to show the warriors in situ, eschewing the easy praise of the Hollywood bubble and careful to avoid throwing a partisan shadow beyond the water’s edge. To show the combatants as they are.
And now he’s dead, having traveled to Libya to document the slaughter there:
Tim Hetherington, the conflict photographer who was a director and producer of the Afghan war documentary “Restrepo,” was killed in the besieged city of Misurata on Wednesday, and three photographers working beside him were wounded, one fatally, when they came under fire at the city’s front lines…
The death of Mr. Hetherington reverberated in many circles, including among the journalists, aid workers, soldiers and victims of war he had befriended in a distinguished career. A British citizen who lived in New York, he had covered conflicts with sensitivity in Liberia, Afghanistan, Darfur and, in recent weeks, Libya.
“This is a devastating loss to many of us personally,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. “But it is also a devastating loss to the human rights community. His work has raised the visibility of many of the world’s forgotten conflicts. May the legacy of his exceptional photographs serve to inspire future generations.”
His family released a brief statement: “Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict. He will be forever missed.”
It’s the soldier’s duty to run toward the sound of the guns. Some photo-journalists – all too few – draw near willingly so that the rest of us can see what’s really going on. They bravely resist imposing their own cognitive lenses on the things to which they bear witness in order to allow to rest of us to form our own opinions, even as they expose themselves to existential peril.
We lost one of the good guys today, while the Hollywood fat cats snort another line of coke and count their poisoned lucre.