Over Thanksgiving break, we were assigned to watch a movie that largely was affected by or was about journalism. I choose The Network. This documentary is about the recent growth of media present in Afghanistan, specifically Kabul. It covers a variety of mediums: radio, TV, soap operas, news coverage, and it even sprinkles in women’s rights. What I found to be most fascinating storyline through the whole piece was how little hope each of the interviewees had for the future of Afghanistan. But they were all dedicated to staying and helping media thrive.
At the beginning, the movie discusses how there was zero media present as recently as the year 2000. With the Taliban in control, the country was in complete havoc and under extraordinary harsh rulings. This was amazing to me. While I was safe in my home watching cartoons as a 5 year old, there was a country that was unable to have any kind of media available to them.
The next part moves into to the introduction of radio. It became an instant hit with all of Kabul, and one of the radio shows is still the number one radio show there. The fact that the country could go from no media at all, and then have radio explode into the country in such a short amount of time is another amazing thing.
Tolo, the TV station in Kabul, was the next to be created. It started with 1 station and 9 people a few short years ago, and now the company employees more than 900 individuals. Its growth and popularity is unbelievable. It shows how much the people in Kabul yearned for the access to media, but were never able to have it. There was a section of the film that focused greatly on the creation of the first soap opera in Afghanistan. The producer brought in professionals from all over the world to help train individuals. The professionals are still there today and have a great bond with whom they call “the kids”. They are teaching them a variety of positions and hope to soon let them all take over.
The second half of the film focused mostly on women’s rights in the Afghani media system. While women are held in a different standard of living there, than they are here in the USA, they are still fighting, sometimes for their lives to participate. It was so motivational and encouraging listening to them speak about their passions. Even though so many people are against them chasing their dreams, they are pushing forward. While Afghanistan has improved overall, it still one of the most high risk places to live in the whole world. By these woman putting their lives on the line to bring all types of media to the country is amazing. It makes really think about how many times I have complained about simply getting an interview from some one because they are half way around the world fighting for their simple right to do so.
Overall the movie was a little slow, but it made up for it with the eye-opening factors. I recommend this to anyone who is borderline about their journalism career. To me, this will push you right back into your place. We have the right to report and entertain, and that is something that we should not take for granite.
Watch the trailer here:
PS It is available on Netflix!!