July 15, 2005

"The Real World" confronts the war in Iraq.

I saw that the new episode of "The Real World" is mostly about the roommates arguing about the war in Iraq, so seeing I had the show TiVo'd, I watched it, thinking -- what? -- that there might be some interesting debate about the war? Some insight into what young people today think about it? Something... bloggable?

So one roommate -- Rachel -- served in Iraq. We see her telling her some of her war stories... well, actually, just saying that in Iraq, she had to dig a hole to "poop" in. Then there's a cut to cast member Nehemiah saying:
I've just had it up to here with her bragging and boasting, because I'm against war, and for me to just sit back and hear her brag about it all the time and ... I'm going to react to it because I have an opinion, just like she does.
But the two just get into a fight about whether it's harder to be in prison or harder to serve in Iraq. This is a silly comparison. It may be safer and easier to be in prison, but it's involuntary and degrading. War and prison are just different, in obvious ways. In any event, it has nothing to do with whether the war is right or wrong.

Later, Rachel clashes with roommates after she takes it upon herself to pressure them to get up and get moving early -- as it's done in the Army. They try to tell her nicely not to be so bossy, but she's all about how things are in the Army. Chez Althouse, Chris says: "She needs to stop talking about how things are done in the Army." It's just not that relevant to how people need to act outside of the Army. I start to suspect that the producers, off camera, keep telling her to really play up the Army angle. She was cast to play a character, not just to hang out in a cool house.

Now we see them at the kitchen table and Nehemiah's calling Bush "a robot" and asking, "What's the whole war about?" But instead of seeing them debate about the war, we see knuckleheaded Nehemiah telling Rachel she wasn't even in the war, because she was a nurse. She blows up and goes on about the injured men she tended to and the dangers she faced. Later, another roommate helps Nehemiah understand that he was wrong to express his opposition to the war like that, and then we see Nehemiah and Rachel in a snuggy-kissy scene where they each apologize to the other.

And that the treatment of the war in Iraq on "The Real World -- Austin," and the episode is padded out with the usual crap where they go to bars, get drunk, display affection, and have minor misunderstandings that are soon patched up with a little whining and hugging.

Pretty much exactly what you would have expected.


Charles said...

It's possible that getting up early enough to get to work on time, cleaning up after yourself, working hard to do a good job, making something of yourself, having moral and ethical values... has a lot of applications to life outside the Army. Unfortunately, MTV's show never really quite gets around to. But real employers like that a lot.

Kelly said...

The best part was when Patch, like the majority of American citizens, stated that we needed to go to war to retaliate for the 4000 innocent people killed (in 9/11 attacks). HELLO!?!?!?! Why can't people understand that Iraq did not take down the twin towers. I couldn't believe that nobody in the house argued with the idiot on that point. I guess it just goes to show again how ignorant Americans generally are...

Matt said...

Other than for some sort of cultural literacy, is there any reason to waste a half-hour of your time watching that show? From your description, Ann, it doesn't seem like the show is really the "Real World" anyways. Its more like college life without class and with a really nice house.

Kelly said...

It's not actually a half hour. If you use TiVo and FF through all commercials, Austin city shots, recap time, and previews for next week, it's only like 17 minutes or so. I need to justify it somehow... ;)

Contributors said...

Terrific post.

Ann Althouse said...

Kelly: We can't assume that people didn't say other things. MTV chooses what to show. Clearly, the prison/war conversation had a lot of preliminary discussion leading up to the part we saw. The show makes every roommate seem dumb, but really dumb people can't put words together as well as they do, so they just can't be as dumb as the actual words they put together make them seem. (I hope!)

Ann Althouse said...

Matt: It's just fun to watch trashy TV sometimes. I've been watching "The Real World" for however many years it's been on. Not every episode. But I check in to see what the place looks like and what they are doing. It went downhill after the great first three seasons. The past many years they've relied too much on nightclubs, drinking, and roommate crushes. It's gets boring.

Sigivald said...

Also, Kelly, I don't recall "the majority of American citizens" thinking that Iraq did the 9/11 attacks.

(Harris, in 2004, had 41 percent believing Iraq was somehow involved with training or support for those who carried out the attacks, which is neither a majority, nor the same claim. And in 2003, the Washington Post found about 70% of Americans thought it at least likely that there was some involvement; that belief was both probabilistic and not long-lasting, evidently.

But in any case, a "link" to the attacks is not the same as having carried them out; as far as I know, that's never been close to a majority opinion, though it might have been on 9/12/01 or so, before any evidence started coming in.)

And I'm absolutely sure, as Ann suggested, that The Real World performances do not reflect an accurate sample of the truth about even the people involved, let alone Americans As A Group.

I'll surely grant you that a claim that Iraq should be invaded as retaliation for the 9/11 attacks is stupid, however. The very good reasons for invading Iraq don't include that.

rsin said...

> The very good reasons for invading Iraq don't include that.

Very good reasons? Name one.

There were no WMD. Iraq was not a threat. Mass graves, etc. ended well before the 91 war. Democracy can't be imposed on a populus. Terrorism has increased globally since we've occupied Iraq (admitted by State Dept Reports). And the oil in Iraq is for Iraqis, not for us to control.

So, name one good reason. Global domination?

miklos rosza said...

Ravi, I don't think you're honestly interested in weighing evidence or changing your mood. If you are, see the article by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard Online for documentation of the extensive contacts and ties between OBL, Al Queda, and Saddam Hussein's intelligence service.

But let's say you're absolutely correct, without nuance or qualification. World domination it is. What're you gonna do about it?

amba said...

1.) I'd rather live in a world dominated by the U.S. than just about anyone else who's lining up to dominate it (presuming that someone is going to, that an undominated, lion-lying-down-with-lamb world ain't in the cards).

2.) How does Ann manage to be a lawprof, blog as much as she does, and still have time to watch trashy TV? Ann, please share your time management secrets. Are you one of those spooky people who only need 4 hours of sleep, like Bill Frist?

3.) The show I'm really looking forward to watching is Over There, the Steven Bochco drama about young soldiers in Iraq. I've watched almost everything Bochco's done, including "Cop Rock," and enjoyed them all. The CNN story says "Over There" is "the first [TV war drama] built around a U.S. military conflict still in progress." The ads for it are brilliant and haunting. Imagine if the lives and deaths of young soldiers in Vietnam had been turned into drama even as it was happening. Instant mythography. I'm curious to hear whether kids who've served in Iraq relate to it.

FX has some of the edgiest and best stuff on TV while you're waiting for "The Sopranos" (which is getting to be like waiting for Godot). I have not watched "Nip/Tuck" (too squeamish), but "The Shield" is good (with Glenn Close!), and I'm utterly addicted to "Rescue Me." (And apparently firefighters heartily approve.)

miklos rosza said...

(Ravi, see Instapundit for link to watch video.)

"This ABC News video from five years ago, courtesy of Media Research Center, is a classic. Before Democrats had a partisan motive to claim, contrary to all the evidence, that there was no relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda, their close and dangerous relationship was common knowledge. That common knowledge is reflected in this ABC news report, as it was in the Clinton administration's indictment of bin Laden in 1998 for, among other things, collaborating with Saddam on weapons of mass destruction.

"It really is a fascinating question: in this era of digital media, can the news media and the Democrats get away with trying to flush what they said as recently as 1998 and 2000 down the memory hole?

"Let's hope not."

rsin said...

> Ravi, I don't think you're honestly interested in weighing evidence or changing your mood.

How very presumptuous of you.

> If you are, see the article by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard Online for documentation of the extensive contacts and ties between OBL, Al Queda, and Saddam Hussein's intelligence service.

I can't believe people are still peddling this. Watch the movie "The Power of Nightmares" (online) or "Hijacking Catastrophe", or read any number of articles that undermine the belief that there was a link between the two that proved Saddam was a threat to us. So, sounds to me like you are also "not honestly interested in weighing evidence or changing your mood", to use your own words. As for me, I'm not in a particular "mood" over this unjust war -- my position is based on evidence, not ideology. I would never support an unjust war, whether or not my country caused it (Saddam wasn't responsible for 9/11, so he should not have been the recipient of our retribution; in fact this has nothing to do with 9/11 or terrorism, if you know the history of the neoconservatives).

>But let's say you're absolutely correct, without nuance or qualification. World domination it is. What're you gonna do about it?

I'll start by not deluding myself about the true motives, and speak up about it while the right-wing machine propagandizes for the administration. They have enough cheerleaders for their goals already.

rsin said...

Media Research Center = partisan watchdog group.

But so be it. There are groups like this on all sides -- Media Matters on the left. http://mediamatters.org/

But really, is anyone from one party going to believe the evidence provided from another party? I doubt it. They are already in an ideological position.

As for me personally, I don't support any party, and I do read from all media sources.

rsin said...

Funny how the claims that Saddam and Osama were linked are based in belief and thin or make-believe evidence, just like the belief that Saddam had WMD (which turned out not to be true, and was discredited by actual, on-the-ground inspections both before and after the war).

All this faith in the Administration and belief in their "facts" has gotten us into a big mess.

I read the Stephen Hayes articles (2 of them on Weekly Standard) yet they themselves are not evidence of a link, nor evidence of a threat. They are hopes of both, so we could have a pure motive for doing what we are doing. But after starting a war based on a non-existent threat (WMD), how many more times will we do this collectively before requiring hard evidence? I'm not going to blow up my neighbor's house because I "believe" he's going to blow up mine, and I've been seeing him "smuggle" in "aluminum tubes" that could possibly be used to create a "bomb" which threatens us. That is not the rule of law. That's the rule of fear.

Jaime said...

If you have done it, then it's not bragging!
Walt Whitman