Those Explosions In Gaza Are(n’t) Special Effects

It should come as a shock to no one (certainly not those who know me) that I’m a fan of movies based on comic books. The films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been favorites of mine and I’m looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy with such anticipation I can hardly contain myself.

But I don’t watch these movies without a certain sort of largely subconscious reservation. Consider (for two minutes and thirty seconds) this trailer for The Avengers

Lots of explosions, CGI, some acting, fight choreography, and more explosions; just what we expect from the sort of movie The Avengers is.

And then there’s reality.

Here’s a video snippet from Vine user RemyRemz (@RemyRemz on Twitter). Turn on the sound at your own risk if your computer’s speakers are turned up to 11.

When I watch an action movie I’m very easily suckered into the fictional “reality” (or verisimilitude, if you prefer a Fifty Dollar Word) portrayed so skillfully by the crew of SFX artists responsible for such things. I’ve never bought fully into the idea of ‘suspension of disbelief‘ that so many film critics and nerds bandy about. When I watch The Avengers, I don’t suspend anything. Rather, I think that the old saying, “Seeing is believing,” is what’s really in play. It’s more work to not believe something than it is to believe it when you see it, if what you’re seeing is sufficiently convincing. Which is why the reality of that exploded building in RemyRemz’s video is so powerful. There’s no logical filter, no way to remind yourself after seeing it, “Oh, it’s just a special effect.” It’s real. And that’s why RemyRemz posted it. A building in Gaza was destroyed. If that building was inhabited at the time of the strike, people died. I don’t want to believe people died in that attack, but it would dishonor their deaths if I didn’t believe.

This is my reservation. I don’t want to filter reality like I might filter a movie. I don’t ever want to become disconnected or callous regarding what happens when bombs drop and missiles fly.

When I originally conceived this post I thought it would end here, but something else came across my Twitter feed, from journalist Allen Sørensen: (also appearing on Al Jazeera)

For some Israelis, their military, and the helpless Palestinians of Gaza, have become characters in an action movie. I’m sure those Israelis think the special effects are great, too.

They don’t seem to share my reservation.

Addendum, 12 July 2014: Bring a Picnic, Watch the Show: Enjoying Gaza Assault In a Lawn Chair

Twitter uproar over pic of ‘applauding’ Israelis watching night attacks on Gaza

Israelis pictured eating POPCORN and clapping as they watch deadly bombardment of Gaza

Addendum, 13 July 2014: When bombs receive applause

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