When Morgan Spurlock and his wife find out they are expecting a child in an unsafe world that faces multiple terrorist and environmental threats, Morgan decides to track down the world's most wanted and dangerous terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, undergoes self-defense training, takes all required medical shots, and sets out to travel to Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan amongst others to try and locate the man who has managed to elude the American army for nearly a decade. His fears, generated due to biased media coverage that Muslims and Arabs are hostile, are laid to rest when he does encounter friendly, and quite refreshingly well educated, hospitable, politically matured men and women, who are well aware of America's faulty 'foreign policy', and do not subscribe to Jihad nor to the Taliban nor Osama's terror-tactics. But he does encounter some hostility, quite ironically, in two of America's allies -- Israel and Saudi Arabia -- and it is on the soil of Pakistan -- ...Written by
Let's make something perfectly clear: Morgan Spurlock doesn't really want to find Osama Bin Laden. I can only assume his real motivation for making Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? runs parallel with his motive behind Super Size Me - to educate fat, stupid Americans. Considering everyone around the world knows there's a lot of fat, stupid Americans, you could say the target audience for this documentary would be as big as the one that made SSM a must-see hit. But, to Spurlock's detriment, there are things people are ready to hear and there are things they aren't. Based on the critical and box office woes of WITWIOBL, it would seem no one in the USA wants to hear the truth about the so-called War on Terror.
Spurlock might be preaching to the choir of informed critics who know exactly why the US is globally detested, but right here in the good old US of A, he's asking the masses to swallow a very bitter pill. I say the pill is bitter because he spends the duration of his film humanizing Muslims, letting them speak for themselves in ways that radically contradict the conveniently palatable perception Americans have of their (ahem) enemy. The Muslims Spurlock interviews are not gun toting, blood thirsty, irrational, unreasonable or anti-American Jihadists, instead they are the exact opposite: peaceful, reasonable, rational, logical and kind. While there is no doubt a shared resentment towards the US Government, the resentment is justified.
Spurlock doesn't pull any punches in his quest, he tells the history of US foreign policy as it happened and this version doesn't hide the fact the US has been in bed with brutal dictators and regimes for a very long time. The fitting quote provided by FDR sums up the US attitude to their profitable alliances with murderous thugs: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." This understanding of US foreign policy begs the question: is it any surprise they hate the US Government? All actions have resultant repercussions and if you consider that US foreign policy has marginalized, oppressed and killed millions of people, then is it any surprise when the victims bite back?
There's one particular interview with one of Spurlock's subjects that basically makes us ask: if the US military can describe civilian casualties as "collateral damage," then what do you call the innocent Americans killed by a Jihadist's attack? It's all a matter of perspective and Spurlock posits the uncomfortable reality that war is war and their loss of innocent lives hurt and resonate just as much as ours do.WITWIOBL is by no means a deep or probing study of the issues in the Middle East; it glosses over the complex history of the region and, at times, does so in a very adolescent way. Spurlock, an obvious student of the Michael Moore school of documentary film-making, makes light of many topics by (over) using animated cartoons as a means to parlay a number of ideas. Spurlock uses a mock-video game template to structure WITWIOBL and, despite it being a new approach, it doesn't do the film any good. While on one hand I can appreciate Spurlock is trying to bring a little levity to a very serious subject, his gags are rarely funny and his overall schtick is wearisome. But if you stick with WITWIOBL you'll be rewarded with a film less about Spurlock's self-indulgences and more about having a better understanding of the Muslim world.
Spurlock concludes that, ultimately, Muslims and Americans want the same thing: to have a better world to bring up their children in. Fine for those who have kids or want them, but I don't. As a consolation, I'd be happy to settle with living in a world where people were introspective enough to realize it takes two to tango. WITWIOBL might open the eyes of a few, but in a country divided by two political parties, asking a filmmaker to bridge the divide between two foreign world's might be asking a bit much. Nevertheless, WITWIOBL is well intentioned even if it has nothing to do with it's title.
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