Last night, looking for some “light and entertaining” documentary watching, I selected “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden” from my Rogers On Demand listings.
For the most part, I had enjoyed Morgan Spurlock’s FX Network series “30 Days” in which he challenges people of opposable faiths, creeds or lifestyles to live in close quarters for 30 days. Sounds like cheap reality TV, but I found it to be an original and bold concept, a sometimes fascinating look at human nature and the variety in our ability to love and hate, judge and condone.
Watching “Where is OBL,” I determined that Spurlock has a keen desire to promote dialogue. He’s a self-appointed diplomat and his goal is to prove that we all share a common human experience. Throughout all the conflicts he witnesses, his narration displays his naivete yet flows alongside a more reflective undercurrent. Spurlock is charmingly thoughtful but can be frustratingly loquacious.
The premise of “Where in the World” is to make the world a safer place for his soon to be born child: find Osama Bin Laden and reduce the incidence of terrorism worldwide. He himself jokes that singing “Kumbaya” is useless, so he embarks on an entertaining quest through Egypt, Morocco, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The search for Bin Laden is a ruse – Spurlock’s true goal is to meet everyday Islamic people and show his audience that they are very similar to everyday Americans: most work hard at menial jobs to put food on the table for their families.
Spurlock’s approach is superficial and targets a lower common denominator – the young, disengaged male – through funny (though glib) animation. But I can’t help forgiving his lack of journalistic depth for his desire to reach that next generation and humanize the faces on other side of the conflict.
Spurlock’s egotistical pontification and his failure to present any practical solutions is cringe-worthy – but I say good on him for getting out there and bringing something back. Especially the laughter – it’s refreshing to see laughing faces from the Middle East.