Thursday, 19 June 2008

Film - Taxi to the Dark Side

'Taxi to the Dark Side'
Alex Gibney

Without Ground, How Does One Stand?

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes remarked that only human beings were subject to the privilege of Absurdity. And yet the idea of an extra-legal American detention centre ensconced on Cuban sovereign territory is not quite as bizarre as it may have once seemed. Maybe it is because we have grown rather accustomed to a world unmade by George Bush’s apocalyptic rendering of a global struggle between forces of good and evil, where any means are justified in the righteous cause of global liberal capitalist democracy. In any case, Alex Gibney’s most recent study of the terror that is Guantanamo Bay, ‘Taxi to the Dark Side,’ seeks to reveal the absurdity that is latent within the axiom that terror is only transgressive in the hands of terrorists.

While the film itself suffers from its American insularity - where state terror is a novel concept invented by neo-conservatives - it demands Americans to note the numerous paradoxes within their national identity. It namely questions the American belief in what Benedict Anderson deemed, the Goodness of their Nation, wherein civic notions of democracy and justice are the bases of American identity. The film also acts as a modern day Eichmann in Jerusalem bringing the question of culpability to the forefront of the discussion. Most notably, using the conservative logic of individual responsibility, Gibney asks who is responsible for such atrocities in Bagram and Abu Ghraib, the dutiful soldier following orders or the Secretary of Defense devising such maniacal schemes.

Though much to the chagrin of Gibney there is little hope of such a serious national re-examination for which the film demands. After all, most of us suffer from conditions of mythic proportions.

And so the absurdity continues.