The most striking thing about The Iraq Campaign for me wasn’t the graphic footage of the city burning; it was the mixing of this imagery with heroic scores and images from movies like Star Wars and Dune. If the filmmaker was trying to make the point that Americans considered these places far away, distant places that exist only for our entertainment, they succeeded.
More significantly, this short movie made me realize how incredibly powerful the art of suture is. I don’t know whether Phil Patiris used any original content, but I can assure you that not everything he used was in his “possession” according to the DMCA. Appropriation of media is the purest form of communication; there are literally no boundaries to what is available on the web right now. The only thing limiting an editor’s potential today for social change is their imagination and proficiency with editing software (which is rapidly becoming both cheaper and easier to use.)
Well, that and the aforementioned DMCA. I doubt that the same video could be released today, especially if the artist wanted to make a buck or two off their 40 hours of work. There are automated programs on Youtube that detect certain frames of copyrighted films, and automatically ban the videos based on an agreement between content providers and Google (who owns Youtube.) Luckily, there’s new ways to dodge this; mirroring, switching the audio, these are just a couple tricks that every editor must know in the post-corporate media landscape today.