Have I got news for you? Well possibly not but I have enjoyed watching the BBC show lately in all its witty glory. I wish I could say the same about #MEDIASTAN. A documentary or perhaps wikimentary/Assangumentary might be more apt titles for what was a well meaning film made by young idealistic euro-journalists with Wikileaks footing the bar tab and gas bills. The premise of the film was to travel through the ‘stans’ of central Asia peddling the latest US Embassy cables to any press interests that might be crazy enough to publish them without getting arrested by the spooks.
We saw picturesque gorges and ravines under oppressive skies and palatial mansions that looked like they were designed by Stalin himself all topped off with liberal doses of kitschy gold flake. As far as I can remember the gallant troupe of five unemployed journos were Swedish, German and female. I’m not being sexist here but I can’t recall the ladies doing anything at all in front of the camera and one of the three guys was a cameraman so … perhaps they were the sound department?
It turned out to be quite amusing in some respects. The general flow of the film was the crew would rock up to a press agency in Shambolickstan and try and coerce the editor to sign a ‘memorandum of agreement’ in exchange for all the US cables that pertained to Shambolickstan. The naively expected outcome would have been ‘gimme gimme gimme’ but the reality was that after a quick call to the newspapers owner(generally in Washington or Prague), the editor would refuse to have anything to do with them and summarily call the secret service.
The irony of one situation was that Radio Liberty in Anarchistan would have loved to air the cables but was prevented from doing so by the fact that it is funded by the US Congress. Another organisation didn’t have anytime for democracy and the editor even boasted about reading Aristotle in Greek and was of the opinion that nothing ever changes. There was no pulling the wool over his eyes.
A Skype conversation with the dazzlingly coiffed argentine tinted Julian Assange himself was not enough to change the editors’ minds, in fact, it generally hardened their resolve to kick out the idealistic Assangists and call the feds. I reckon the whole film(loose term) could have been summarised in four or five lines:repeat after me(5 times), do not waste your time and/or money watching this film.
Would you publish stuff that would more than likely end up with you breaking stones in a uranium mine for the rest of your life?
As you might expect in the spirit of the whole tedious affair I illegally downloaded #Mediastan in torrent form but is it illegal to download something that is about the illegal distribution of classified material that was obtained by eavesdropping and stealth then stolen and trafficked across numerous borders? I don’t know but perhaps the NSA can tell me once they’ve read this email.
I reckon the producers of #MEDIASTAN would have had better luck sending the Beebs’ Ian Hislop and Paul Merton on the road to flog their wares. At least it would have been funny. I have to admit that the funniest part was the enterprising journo in Afghanistan who boasted that he made $12,000US in three days while doing legwork for the Swedish press. The idealistic journos fell silent when they realised that was half their annual salary and their entire annual budget pickled herrings. It got even funnier when he suggested that he would be available to do legwork for Wikileaks for the same bargain rates. The bloke was barely out of nappies but spoke good english and had one of the brassiest necks I’ve ever seen on the box. I expect him to be running his own ‘stan one of these days.
I’ve just read the blurb on the webpage and cannot believe that I was watching the same film. They say it’s a road movie! All road movies have drugs and murder as a central theme or even ‘finding your inner self’. Give me ‘Salvador’ any day. The blurb also says that somebody famous says something about Obama, ah well, I must have fallen asleep by then.