Friday, February 22, 2008

Does It Get Worse? Oh, Yes. It Gets Worse.

Following a heads-up from commenter Eastwest in the forums discussing the diavlog I recommended in my previous post, I learned this disturbing news: The Discovery Channel purchased the television rights to Taxi to the Dark Side from director Alex Gibney, telling him they were committed to giving it a prominent airing. They then decided the film was "too controversial," and, claiming to be worried about an upcoming public offering of their stock, told Gibney they would not be airing it after all.

Think Progress posted a good summary of this on 8 February, along with a short interview with Gibney. Audio and partial transcript available here.

Of particular note during this interview: Gibney points out the incongruity of Americans' simultaneous love for dramatic torture porn epitomized by 24 and their resistance to learning about the real thing.

Democracy Now aired an interview with Gibney on 12 February, in which he and Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, talked about this crass and craven decision by The Discovery Channel. Video, audio, and transcript available here.

Money quote from Warren, describing the Bush Administration:

They admit what they can't deny, and they deny what they can't admit.

I looked around a little more, and came upon another interview with Gibney on this same topic. This one, also posted 12 February, is hosted by The Center for American Progress. Listen, read, and follow some useful links, all here.

Small amount of good news from that last page:

Update 2/21/08: HBO Documentary Films announced that they have acquired the domestic television rights for "Taxi to the Dark Side." The film will debut on HBO in September, 2008.

HBO doesn't have the penetration into households that The Discovery Channel does, but it's a start. Go YouTube, and go BitTorrent, I say.

To return to the Discovery Channel, we really need to figure out a way to punish them for their behavior. The idea that they would buy a film and then suppress it is just appalling. It is a powerful symbol of the complicity of the corporate mindset with the worst actions of our government. If ever a film needed to be aired during a presidential campaign year -- a year, I remind you, in which one of the candidates has just voted in favor of torture -- this is it.

You might also have a look at the official site for the film. There's a good trailer to watch, along with help on finding a theater in which the film will be shown, among other things.

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