If the last clip I posted (Prophetic Mashup) was hinged upon a belief in (some sort of) sacred truth, and the possibility of its revelation by means of montage, this post is dedicated to the statement “the content of the video is edited,” and the disavowal of any dialectical conception of cinematic truth which it so clearly manifests.
I think the above video needs little introduction – the fact that I’ve been trying, and failing, to write one for the past week or so, might testify to this. But then again, perhaps it’s all about “introducing” it. The reason I picked this clip, apart from its apparent disturbing qualities, is in fact its “introduction” by the Israeli police, who’s comment was: “the content of the video is edited” and “it does not convey the full situation.” Now, their claim is simple: something in this clip, they say, has been falsified. They seem to argue that scene has been violated, deprived of its indexicality, and that it now must be relegated to the realm of fiction.
Let’s have a look. What is shown to us is a man, laying on the ground, wearing a white T, Kakhis and sandals. Distorted screeching can be heard. Two men, dressed in what looks like dark navy police uniforms, are perched above him. One of the supposed police men holds a gun-like object. As the video starts, it seems the man on the ground stares at the armed policemen for what must be several milliseconds, he then suddenly clenches, screams and rolls onto his back, floundering. The second policemen approaches the man (his body momentarily recovering from the 50,000 volts which just pierced through his limbs) and cuffs him. Thus far, one should note, 15 seconds have passed. The man, now cuffed, seems to slowly regain his senses, gets up on his knees and gestures towards the observing crowd, towards us perhaps, for help. At this point, still cuffed and on his knees, he is shocked once more, his body clenches, rolls and shakes involuntarily. At this point we may already note something is wrong, not cinematically wrong, but rather ethically – we have just witnessed an abuse of power, police brutality, perhaps torture, on account that that the man was cuffed, posed no threat, and was electrocuted nonetheless. So, going back to the police’s comment, we can now either deduce that whatever editing the clip supposedly underwent, had to do with the context, and is thus irrelevant, or that some transparent form of editing was used, perhaps the whole scene is an apparition created by after effects, post-produced? As interesting as that could have been (after effects rendered to 240p) it doesn’t seems to be the case.
No, there is something incredibly simple and straight forward about this video, so simple that it is difficult to understand how such a claim could be evoked regarding the testimony it produces, and yet it was evoked, and the clip’s truthfulness placed under doubt.
The reason I chose this clip is that it points towards a problem and a need. The problem is that such material is denied its right as evidence, rejected and ignored. This can be done because we have learned to doubt film, video, and photography, to treat them as impostors – once touched they become fake, fiction, false. Thus, it seems some sort of cinematic exorcism is needed, or perhaps a counterinsurgency by way of truth infestation. We need these videos to be true and conceived as true, we must not be deterred by low resolution or poor editing, nor by editing at all. Images hold some sort of truth within them – be it in their metadata, in their chemical reaction, or digital encoding, or in their pictorial narration – and this truth should be recovered, cherished, and taught.
Some details concerning the video -
The clip was posted on Youtube by a user called anamnalqudscom (in Arabic, I’m from Jerusalem) on the 22/8/12, a day later it was written about in a story published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The clip was filmed on Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday which marks the end of Ramadan. According to numerous witnesses, police forces arrived at the scene (a water park in Tel-Aviv) to intervene in a brawl between two families. The police pepper sprayed a young teenager who was involved in the incident and when a concerned bystander – Tallal Syaad, a 42 year old father of three, from East Jerusalem – approached them, asking them to stop pepper spraying, although he had done nothing wrong, they responded by shooting him with their taser gun. It is then that the available documentation of the event starts, with Mr. Syaad on the floor, and the policemen proceeding to shock him again and again. A complaint against the police was filed by Mr. Syaad at the division of internal affairs. The police responded to the video presented by stating it was edited, and did not convey the events.