Liberia is getting some (does quote marks) love on Twitter today because of a new web documentary on Vice Magazine. What else can we find on Vice Magazine’s website?
I’m not happy about the documentary. Here’s the comment I left on Ethan’s blog post:
Idiotic, sensationalizing, simplistic, and in many places factually incorrect. And I say this having met one of the guys who worked on it. (Also, it drives me crazy that they portray Miles as having “had malaria more times than he’s had hot dinners.” Both times that I saw him we were drinking ice cold beers – thanks to a costly generator – at an expat’s very comfortable place with a perfect view of Monrovia’s coastline.)
To say that this documentary is representative of Liberia is like saying that a documentary on Las Vegas is representative of the United States. I find it so frustrating that sensationalized nonsense like this gets so much attention when really incredible storytelling by Liberians barely gets picked up at all. To suggest that thoughtful documentary filmmakers should learn from thoughtless jackasses like these guys is, in my opinion, wrongheaded. The more important question in my opinion is how to get more people/viewers interested in understanding another country and culture rather than just looking at clips of brothels and cannibalism.
This is why I disagree with the whole ‘ninja gap‘ idea. Nothing constructive is going to come out of this documentary. All it does is further fetishize the same scenes and stories that are always associated with Liberia.
For anyone wanting to learn more about Liberia, I highly recommend Saki Golafale’s account of his trip to Freetown, thoughts on marriage from the recently married Nat Bayjay, and pretty good coverage of the forced resignation of Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Laurence Bropleh.
And to better understand the context around the gory images that are shown without any context in the Vice videos, Stephen Ellis’ The Mask of Anarchy is highly recommended.
While I’m obviously frustrated by the Vice documentary, I couldn’t be happier with the amazing progress of Ceasefire Liberia, one of the many amazing Rising Voices grantee projects. Their coverage of Information Minister Laurence Bropleh’s forced resignation reminded me of this little video I managed to record when meeting Bropleh a couple years ago:
And a photo of his hands: