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Enemy Image (2005)

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When Baghdad exploded under bombs, television chose to bring us fireworks. But does this distant and spectacular image tell us what is really happening on the ground, how it feels or what it means? Television has the means to take us anywhere and show us anything. It can bring us the physical experience of war with all its’ horrors, like no other medium, and yet the image of American war on television is disembodied, bloodless, and unreal. The invasion of Iraq was the most closely documented war ever fought. Lasting only 800 hours, it produced 20,000 hours of video, but those images were tightly controlled, producing a monolithic view of combat sanitized and controlled by the Pentagon.

Enemy Image traces the ways us television has covered war, starting with Vietnam in the 1960s and shows how the military has devised ever-improving means of ensuring the American public never again has the real face of combat beamed directly into their living rooms. Comparing footage of Vietnam, including rarely-seen material shot in North Vietnam, to coverage of Iraq and using extensive interviews with veteran war correspondents and news anchors, Mark Daniels demonstrates how television that once revealed the truth is now increasingly used to hide it.

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