The mocking tone of this article is to be expected, after all, it is a Murdoch related news entity. In fact, across the Australian Murdoch network, the piece is being promoted as light weight mockery.
That said, Robyn Creswell's piece in the New Yorker, which probably inspired the news agency article, wisely suggests that to understand the ISIS mentality, one must understand the popular culture, and proceeds to give an analysis, largely of the modern take on traditional poetry.
What's happening in the self proclaimed Caliphate on a cultural level is not too different to what has happened in popular culture elsewhere at various points in history.
But we might be too distracted or cynical to realise it. After all, we are collectively immobilized by the level of brutality which we associate with the movement, as by the information gaps that create further obstacles in our understanding of who ISIS really are. When even the US govt is unclear about IS troop numbers it's clear that there is a long way to go to understanding.
Certainly, making a mockery of what is happening culturally in the ISIS context is more harmful than helpful, even though it is a way of propagating the Western cultural machine.
By shining a light on the opposing Jihadist cultural machine, are we attempting to better understand the mentality or simply making fun of it in a way that we can diffuse it of its potency?
War commonly brings with it propaganda and dissent from both sides. The ideology of propaganda is often fueled by justification and glorification...after all, in addition to feeding and paying an army, you need to keep their spirits up.
The fact that many of these articles are suggesting that ISIS troops are, strangely enough, pop lovers is kind of ridiculous. I mean, really? How old are these troops? Of course they're going to have tastes that reflect the various pop markets. Pop is everywhere, we grow up on it until we grow out of it.
We lack perspective on this issue of the Caliphate's influence in the Syrian and Iraqi media. We need to make better correlations with the cultural machines used in different war campaigns to get real perspective on what is happening in these circles. I'm pretty sure that western soldiers in Vietnam were more into Elvis than they were Chopin.
What we can say is that the IS machine is well oiled when it comes to its media presence. We are horrified by what is happening in Iraq and Syria: a horror magnified for us through the shrewdly created imagery that IS has crafted and broadcast to the world.
Taking a superficial look at a trend, making a few offhand, denigrating remarks and then presenting it to the masses online... are we talking about the news networks or ISIS at this point?
I'm more convinced that I can get more of that insight by watching a film such as this one than by reading an article on many of our own news outlet sites these days.
We need insight, not mockery. Substance not flippancy.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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