CAPSULE: Sometimes the most stringent argument is not the most effective one. Barbara-Anne Steegmuller directs, as well as co-writes and co-produces, SUPERPOWER, a film which is virtually a catalog of charges of the United States misusing and abusing its military power all around the world with a government loyal only to the military industrial complex. To her credit Steegmuller assembles interviews from a stellar collection of dozens of experts, largely dissidents, including Noam Chomsky, Sergei Khrushchev, and Cindy Sheehan. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10
It is a common mistake in documentary film for the filmmaker to be enraged by some situation and to bring his or her case to the screen as a totally one-sided argument. There can be a litany of charges against some political enemy. Very little consideration is given to presenting the counter arguments. That is not surprising. The filmmaker is trying to expose some terrible wrong. Why give the other side airtime? Well, there is a very good reason to present the opposing side's arguments. It gives the viewer confidence that the opposing point of view has been considered. And if the viewer starts supplying his/her own alternate point of view it calls into question for the viewer the filmmaker's objectivity. The 80% that the viewer would trust the filmmaker on is actually discredited by the 20% the viewer questions.
"America's Quest for Global Dominance through the Military- Industrial Complex." That rather salty blurb on the box tells it all.
SUPERPOWER is a documentary fueled more by rage than by objective argumentation. The viewer is subjected to a disorganized rain of charges against the United States. Watching it I wanted to stop Barbara-Anne Steegmuller (director/co-writer/co-producer), with questions and even a few "yes, but..." comments. But of course in a film and on video that is impossible. For example in an interview one April Najjaj says that the United States claims to support democracies, but the only democracies in the Middle East are Iran and Palestine. I would say that those are highly questionable democracies at best and that if she cannot think of a third country in the Middle East that is a democracy, why would I even want to listen to her? By presenting one long catalogue of tirades Steegmuller preaches to the choir and what may be good arguments are wasted.
I have no question that Steegmuller strongly believes the case she makes, and perhaps much is true in her charges. She tarnishes her argument by not giving at least a little rebuttal from the opposing point of view and from the shrillness of her presentation. This is a film that will please those who already agree with her but will alienate at least some fence sitters.
The interviews presented in the film are from 32 different witnesses, mostly activists. Their testimony is full of indictment, but without a lot of documentation or evidence for most. This film is a scattershot look at a very large number of accusations against the United States, mostly familiar and probably no small number of them have more than a little basis in truth. It is a good summary of what arguments are being made. It could serve as an introduction of the far Left's view of the United States. But my recommendation to the viewer is to not take the charges at face value without further confirmation. I rate SUPEROWER a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10.
[Full disclosure: I come to this film with a strong skepticism that the United States has any malicious policy to achieve the power to dominate the world. Under some leaders it does try to use its power in questionable ways, but I do not believe there is a unified conspiracy behind those actions. The United States does occasionally unilaterally elect itself the world's policeman in a world that unfortunately desperately needs a policeman. In the Bosnian Intervention Europe had wrung its hands for many long months and asked why did the United Stated do nothing to stop a conflict that was much closer to their doorsteps. Finally the United States did intervene and stopped the violence. The is a country very different from the one Steegmuller describes.]
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1311717/combined
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2013 Mark R. Leeper