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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Documentary > Genocide > Politics > Darfur > China > Screamers (2007/System Of A Down Concert/Documentary/Politics/Darfur DVD)

Screamers (2007/System Of A Down Concert/Documentary DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Main Program: B-



As I started to write this, I was thrilled with the news that Steven Spielberg had rightly stepped down as the head of entertainment events associated with the upcoming Olympics in China because of the powerful country’s refusal to stop the highly unacceptable genocide in Darfur.  China is a great country and though a competitor, should be at least a good associate and not an enemy, and while the United States is not perfect, we and other countries can still object to the slaughter too.  Too bad the Bush II administration is “unable” at this point somehow despite Bush I having been ambassador to the country at one time.


Spielberg did not feel like being Leni Riefenstahl for China and even appealed to for them to do something.  They are rightly concerned that these Olympic Games they hold will be highly politicized and a disaster for their country, but what else can they expect if they cannot stop the killing with their peak of financial and military might?  They are grown adults.  Do they not understand how wrong this is?  Can’t they remember when they were invaded by other countries (like Japan) or how we tipped them off about a USSR invasion?  As they become more capitalist, do they not understand how incompatible such bloodshed is with that, even if they hold onto communist like restrictions?


Well despite the U.S. media ignoring this at a disturbingly high rate, there is more than a movement going on with a new generation that sees this as just another symptom of what has gone wrong in the world since 2000.  It is a movement against the torture and murder in Darfur and abroad, powered by outrage, the taint of injustice, the Internet and the general insanity of this and related activities.  One of the few real Rock bands around today about something, System Of A Down, has been highly active in saying no to this whole mess and they have put out an intelligent, informative, entertaining, raw and very well rounded presentation of music, great fans, great people and better possibilities.


Entitled Screamers!, Carla Garapedian’s fine documentary actually deals with all kinds of awful genocide incidents that we are still too quick to forget, starting with the Holocaust of WWII that has lately been criticized by revisionists.  After Bosnia and Rwanda, including all the coverage it has received, you would think Darfur would be more of a world outrage, but the one thing this fine program is not covering is a deep examination on how this pattern of “allowed genocide” keeps repeating.  It is good on everything else.


The band is sincere and doing what real Rock is all about, highlighting political and individual awareness while telling it like it is and expending amazing energy about it, becoming a party with purpose.  Unless you are in denial on a level of mental illness (and for those who don’t believe in psychology, than you are really guilty if you ignore this) the arguments are obvious, clear-cut and simple.  Murder is bad, but this kind of outright genocide is outrageous.


The music of the band is a mix of traditional and post-modern approaches, which is why they have the sound they do.  The regular Rock form can suddenly get interrupted by talking, mixing, sampling, harder Electronica type form or even a sort of Rap, yet they remain the same band.  That is not easy, but they make it work, form it onto a new Rock language for them and their audience and this is why they stand out.  No wonder they are multiple Grammy winners.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 x 1 image was shot in what looks like various video formats and not any HD I can see, so it is soft, but it is also nicely edited (including some great archive footage pertaining to politics past) and recorded well enough as all the interview audio is decent except in a few cases.  Extras include over a half –hour of pieces that form a behind the scenes featurette on the making of this documentary, include a bonus song, Press conference, more on the band and the politics.  There is also a trailer and “Get Connected” section in that half-hour from director Garapedian to get involved.


So what to do besides being aware?  Boycott goods from China?  Maybe.  But more important, China needs to understand the permanent damage this is doing to their stance in the world.  Yes, it is in their sphere of influence and like Tibet (we won’t go there) is a country in their superpower territory.  We would not want them telling us what to do with Puerto Rico either, yet it is not Darfur.  With the Olympics fast approaching, they are not even going to pretend everything is well like Hitler did back in 1936 when it is not.  Instead, if appeals to morality and justice mean nothing, then they should think about respect and business.


It is not just the U.S. but many around the world involved in the Olympics and there could potentially be the first boycotts since the final years of The Cold War.  That is bad for their reputation, honor, respectability and economic future.  Sure, they could blow up the world a few times over; welcome to the nuclear club and who wants that?  Sure, the U.S. has many Chinese living and studying here and people worldwide love visiting both countries, but the question becomes this: do you really have any control over anything in the end?  Can you really stop the Darfur disaster?  Are you really as powerful as you say you are and if so, is there anytime anything like this happens that you can show how big you really are and stop it?


That is not a bluff or con, but as the Olympics arrive, a profound question about how much you care about anything, business or otherwise.  Can you really runt he event with out a terrorist attack for instance, or is that as permissible as killing in Darfur?  Are those who want to visit China, want to spend their money there, want to live there and think the country is great less safe and more in danger than ever if they go?  Is it a first world superpower or is it just a bored giant who could care less and thinks anyone is expendable, so they can be killed and it does not matter?


If China wants to join the world economy in the best light, it needs to stop the Darfur mess now and show that they are serious about business (other countries can make cheap good too), international relations, as much world peace as can be had (it will never be perfect) and that there is a maturity, pride and sense that action will be taken for the best reasons and not just to hold such a country together.  They may be thousands of years older than the U.S., but right now, that is not breeding the expected wisdom.  If they are unhappy with this documentary (which I bet hey have already seen) and potential disaster ahead for their Olympics, can they do the proper thing before it is too late?


If not, they should expect what they see here to become a world phenomenon sooner or later, no matter what the world power elite wants.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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