Vice’s Ground Zero: Mali – A Jihad On Tape Featured

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Rudyard Kipling once wrote ‘East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.‘ But they did and for the recent decades it has been in a collision of culture, bloodshed and war.  Recently, this bloodshed spilt into Mali in East Africa and was captured on film by…VICE magazine???

When I hear the word VICE magazine, I think cool, edgy attention seeking, irreverent satirists. I don’t think coverage of the conflict in Mali complete with graphic images of a Jihad war, death and destruction. I also never thought that something that VICE produced could make me cry, well not in in the overwhelmed, disturbed sense anyway.

Filmed in two halves, it depicts the battle of Goa. In the red corner we have France and Mali trying to stop a Jihadist invasion in the country and in the blue corner we have the aforementioned Jihadists fighting to bring extreme Islam to the North.  The trailer for Ground Zero resembles that of ITV News Special as does the first half of the footage. By the time we’re onto the second half of the documentary, however, we’re in far darker territory, as this isn’t anything like I’ve seen Trevor McDonald reporting on. This is far darker, far more gruesome. War has become reality, which makes you want to vomit and cry at same time.

We’re shown a severed leg lying in the middle of the road, a small amount of bone poking out, and more controversially a man’s dreadlocked head lying there too, right in the middle of the road. VICE decides this isn’t shocking enough and takes this one step further by showing us some footage of some half dismembered jihadist child soldiers until you’re thinking ‘What the actual f**k! I don’t want to see this.’

Upon reflection, I’m torn, is it right to show images or grim depictions or war and terror on our computer/television screens? Does it make us more aware of what an atrocity war really is and the consequences it can have on families and lives? Or should it be hidden away, too upsetting and repulsive to be considered? Are we too shielded from the acts violence that our government often commits when fighting these wars against terrorism?

I’m generally shocked that VICE has had such a large impact on my Thursday afternoon. It may not be pleasant but it is sure as hell is thought provoking and alarming. Watching Ground Zero  has made me grateful that I don’t live in a country torn apart by war or under the threat of extremists, Islamic or other.  I’ve realised that I’m grateful for my liberty and for the fact that I’ve been able to reach my 21st birthday.




Joanna Bateson-Hill

Originating from Brixton, London, I study Theatre and Performance at University of Leeds. I love everything to do with film, theatre and most of all writing, with the occasional bit of swimming thrown in for good measure. I hope to write articles that make people laugh but also make them think. To me, writing is a fun, cheap and healthier form of therapy. I hope that people have as much fun reading my articles as I do writing them, which is a lot.



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