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Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & The Selling Of American Empire


Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & The Selling Of American Empire

Director: Sut Jhally, Jeremy Earp
Runtime: 68 minutes

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One loathsome political-ad cliché involves showing the opponent scowling or looking guilty in unflattering black-and-white with grim music in the background, while the advertised candidate beams triumphantly in glorious Technicolor. This endlessly employed trope says nothing, but implies volumes: Their guy sucker-punches nuns and drinks children's blood out of human skulls, while our man coaches Little League, weeps with pride upon hearing the National Anthem, and nurses wounded bald eagles back to health in his free time.

The crude, grating anti-Bush documentary Hijacking Catastrophe opens with a variation on this strategy, showing fuzzy, menacing, gray footage of the president set to ominous music, setting an appropriately hysterical tone for what amounts to little more than a flood of scare tactics, low blows, and smudgy talking heads. More than just the latest scattershot documentary attack on the Bush administration, Hijacking Catastrophe doubles as an almost encyclopedic compendium of unflattering images of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the sinister trolls who make up the neo-con cabal.

Ineptly recycling ideas, arguments, and even interview subjects from the deluge of superior recent leftist documentaries, the film documents how Bush and company used the Sept. 11 attacks as an excuse to implement radical right-wing ideas about empire-building and imperialist might hatched by Paul Wolfowitz and his cronies. Had directors director Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally stayed on target and zeroed in on how extremist theories became government policies, their film might have been able to carve itself a niche within the glut of hastily assembled anti-Bush documentaries. Instead, the filmmakers fire blanks in every direction, attacking the chicken-hawks for their lack of military service, chiding Bush for running up the national debt, and resorting to slasher-movie music and footage of mutilated Iraqi children to keep the film at a shrill emotional pitch. Hijacking Catastrophe subscribes to the curious notion that the best way to counteract the Bush administration's sophisticated fear-mongering about terrorism is with much less sophisticated fear-mongering of its own.