Friday, June 17, 2005

Bouclier Humain

Currently reading: "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
"The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller
Next Up: "The Crimson Petal and the White" by Michael Faber
I finally finished reading the first part of "Bouclier Humain" (Human Sheild) by Amara Sellali called "The Paths of Amara." It's only a 40-some-odd page comic book, but I had to read it with a translation in one hand, so it took a while...
It didn't exactly thrill me. It certainly wasn't quality storytelling. While I'm glad I read it, in the interest of trying to learn more and stay informed, I didn't enjoy it and I wasn't as moved as I think the author intended me to be. For one thing, the artwork was very sterile and cold. The depiction of Iraqi children burned/disfigured/malnourished should have moved me, but the artwork was so generic, I didn't feel a thing. Meanwhile, the layout of the story was very much "and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened..." I couldn't help but compare it to "Persepolis", which was completely the opposite. Both are memoirs done as graphic novels dealing with the tumultuous goings-on in the Middle East. But while Persepolis was heartfelt, moving, and a good old fashioned interesting story, Bouclier Humain read like a news item.
The one thing I will say about it, is that Bouclier Humain made me think. Reading this, the whole idea of being a "human shield" in protest seems not only naive to me, but also a thinly veiled version of snobbery. It's as if to say I know my life is worth more than yours, so I'll stay here and protect you, because they wouldn't shoot at me... I recently read an interview with Sandra Oh in BUST magazine (I promise this is relevant!), and when asked about her good fortune, and whether she ever feels guilty about it, she said something like "I would never feel guilty about my success. Because if you feel guilty about where you are in your life, you're automatically placing a judgement on where other people are in their lives. By you feeling bad about what you have, it's just like you're deameaning them for what they don't have." I agree with that, and that's sort of the feeling I get when reading about these human shields. Guilt, in my opinion, has never helped anybody, and I feel like that's where a lot of the anti-war sentiment comes from: liberal guilt.
Don't get me wrong - I, too, am a liberal and anti-war. I believe that it's wrong for our country to impose itself on the world. However, I don't think something like being a human shield is terribly useful, and it seems like it's primarily for show. There are only two real ways to affect change, it seems (and I could be wrong - and if I am, someone please talk to me about it, because I'm still in the process of figuring things out for myself) - politically and economically. That is, affecting the law, or affecting money. Everything else, to me at the moment, is pure spectacle.


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