Review: War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death

"War Made Easy" (IMDb listing) looks at American military conflicts from the perspective of the hard sell. More of an essay on current pipelines of propaganda than a traditional documentary, "Easy" is nevertheless a powerful construction of information and complicated questioning that is critical to understanding the current Iraq conflict and previous combat situations.

Fashioned out of Norman Solomon's 2005 book by directors Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, "Easy" isn't a frosted dissertation of facts. The picture is more a conversation with Solomon as he breaks down the intentions of the media and clarifies how propaganda is alive and well in today's hornet's nest of soundbite competition. Using sizable amounts of network and cable news footage, interviews with Solomon, and connective tissue narration by Sean Penn, "Easy" is an unusually level-headed film about such a relentlessly sensitive topic.

Solomon's argument is that this distortion of the truth or, at the very least a disassociation from the facts, is put forth by the media to cash in on hysteria and, knowingly or unknowingly, assist the government's underhanded political maneuvering. "Easy" starts back in the 1960s with Vietnam, exploring the controversial Gulf of Tonkin incident, soon weaving through Nixon, Regan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush Deux to expose the routine of each administration, as they justify combat to keep the profitable war machine humming.

"Easy" soon opens fire on the media and their overall carelessness. Solomon's argument is an obvious one: corporate news is impossible to trust. However, that doesn't make the absence of sound judgment and general mucking of facts any less surprising to see underlined. The networks, Fox, MSNBC, and CNN are all targeted here as leeches of the establishment, more consumed with creating elaborate war coverage intro graphics than even making a mild attempt to address the realities of conflict. "Easy" contrasts American media with European coverage, and if you hated domestic mainstream news outlets before, this comparison will have you throwing your TV out of the window in no time.

Addressing controversial issues such as embedding reporters, the aggressively misunderstood "peacenik" movement, and dropping unnerving reminders of today's mistakes made 40 years back, "Easy" confidently snakes through the tragedy of news organizations who fail to challenge the lies, half-truths, and manipulation they face daily. There is some disappointment that only Solomon is allowed to comment on the situation (it is his work after all), leaving out a more overwhelming indictment of the topics at hand. Nevertheless, "War Made Easy" is an engrossing bit of finger-pointing, ushering in another fascinating shade to the world's current woes, not to mention a devastating portrait of fallacy that grows stronger by the gunshot

Filmfodder Grade: B