Torture! Now Read The Book and Watch The TV Show!

You know how, for whatever reason, some ideas that once seemed like slam-dunks take so long to come to fruition, they fizzle out and disappear because the country's media parade has already passed by? Garfield: The Movie's a good example. Jeez, my heart goes out to those folks.

Well, for a moment this morning, I worried that the same fate would surely befall C4's new TV special, "The Guant·namo Guidebook," which tells the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a [tricked out east London ware]house and have their lives taped, and find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting REAL. The Real World! tortured the way the US government is doing at Gitmo, using the techniques described in declassified military intelligence documents and first-hand accounts. Did I say torture? Sorry, don't want to overpromise. The producers and documents actually call it "torture lite."

Then I find out there's a book, too: The Torture Papers, which Michiko Kakutani compares to the greats of the genre:

Justice Department and Defense Department memos on this subject make for chilling reading, and they transport the reader from the sunlit world of "democracy" and "freedom" and "human rights" frequently invoked by the president to a dark place located somewhere in the nether latitudes between Orwell's Animal Farm the Godfather movies and one of Joseph Heller's or Kurt Vonnegut's black comedies.
I hear "comedy" and automatically think, "I see Will Ferrell as Bush," but then I realize, I see Bush as Bush. And Gonzalez as Gonzalez. And Rumsfeld as Rumsfeld. All the principals are still in town, available and working together. They may be broken and covered with cigarette burns, but torture has legs. It's now a solid franchise, like Star Trek or James Bond. Far from missing their hook, "The Guant·namo Guidebook" and The Torture Papers are just great, behind-the-scenes bonus features on a Special Collector's Edition DVD. So if you thought Lord of The Rings went on too long, brace yourself. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

C4 lines up Guant·namo-style torture show [media guardian, reg req, via mediabistro]
Following a Paper Trail to the Roots of Torture [nyt]
Buy The Torture Papers at amazon

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: February 8, 2005.

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