Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

10 August 2008

'Boys from Baghdad High' is a riveting HBO documentary worth sitting down to watch

The other night, I had little to do. So, as I do every time I'm bored, I searched my digital cable lineup for something to watch. Though it wasn't on when I'd be awake, I saw something called "The Boys from Baghdad High." It was a documentary about four teenagers — all living in the war zone of Iraq, and all of whom were entering their senior year of high school — who were given video cameras to document their school year.

All four of the teens knew each other, though some were better friends with others. They weren't a traveling group of friends, so to speak.

Three were Muslim and one was Christian. They Muslims were from different sects. And yet, all four went to school with each other, and without issues — hardly the way things were in their very surroundings.

When all was said and done, the producers of the show took some 300 hours worth of footage and packed it into a 90-minute documentary that was some of the most riveting television that I've ever seen outside of "24" and "ER." 

Perhaps it was the sheer reality that what was on the screen was as real as it gets. Perhaps it's the notion that I can relate to the lives of teenagers having spent years as a teacher. Perhaps it's the shocking value of seeing these kids struggle as teens do with teen issues — girls, academics, family, growing up — all as guns were being used, as explosions were happening, as buildings burned, right in their very own neighborhoods.

The documentary brought to life the War in Iraq — a war we often only see in 30-second sound bites on the news or on cable. It brought to life the harsh reality that kids, just like the kids we know in this country, struggle with day-to-day issues. But unlike their American counterparts, they've got to deal with the horrors of war. They've got to worry about getting shot at and killed as they drive from their homes to school. They've got to worry about whether they'll be able to keep the electricity running through the night with their power generators, since electricity is staggered throughout Iraq.

Yes, the Iraqi teens are a lot like American teens. They wear ripped Abercrombie jeans. They listen to hip-hop. They like to use the Internet. They worry about whether they'll do well enough to go on to university. But seeing the side shows they deal with — seeing their incredible struggle to survive — demonstrates just how difficult this war is ... how difficult life in Iraq is ... how different things are for the teens of the United States of America.

"Boys from Baghdad High" is absolutely worth a watch. If you have onDemand and HBO, you can watch the program anytime through August. Check listings for other air times. 

If you watch the documentary, be forewarned: some of the scenes are hard to fathom. One thing's for sure though — if you don't come away after watching the show with a better appreciation for what we have here in America, then nothing, I repeat, nothing, will ever affect you in any way.


Post a Comment