Poking Fun at Terrorists

Ubiwar had a posting a couple days ago about a British film called Four Lions that played at Sundance and which pokes fun at suicide bombers.  You can find The Guardian‘s article on the film here.

In the words of the reviewer for IndieWire, the film revolves around a “cool-headed young leader in possession of the intellectual drive to get the job done, and a brutish pundit whose incompetence continually dooms the group’s plans. ‘I’m the most Al-Qaida of all,’ he insists.”  Of course, this is a well-established comedy mechanism.  Think Jeeves and Wooster or Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

On the other hand, there is an underlying truth to this construct with regard to the jihadist world.  I’ve long been enamored of the idea of the distinction and tension between instrumental and expressive warriors in the jihadist world and I think it can be seen almost anywhere you look in among the terrorists.  It’s an idea that I owe originally to Jeff Cozzens.  West Point’s CTC also used the idea in their “Harmony and Disharmony” paper.

A couple of closing thoughts.  First, assuming a distributor picks up this film and it gets some traction, I wonder what the reaction on the forums will be.  Second, I wonder if there is any chance that this film could make terrorists “uncool” in their own young male target demographic, at least in the UK, where the movie is set.  Or am I being too optimistic?

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 3:06 PM  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thnks, Mark.

    Could you give us a reference for the CTC’s use of the expressive / instrumental distinction? I searched for “expressive” on the CTC site, and the only use I found was in The Islamic Imagery Project, where they write “visual propaganda is considered to be more than just a host for textual messages; rather it is treated as an expressive medium unto itself”.

    I’m wondering whether the distinction maps to or in some way resonates with Hekmatyar’s “no formal connection between organizations, friendly help at the individual level” distinction, which he expressed thus:

    >> We neither have organizational links with Al Qaida nor with the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban… We have asked our mujahidin to call every mujahid his brother, fight the enemies jointly [and] not to spare their help to any good mujahid. <<

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