All the great quests start with a question. This one starts with “Where in the world is Osama bin Laden?” but the bigger question is whether Morgan Spurlock, famed director and star of “Super Size Me,” is the man to find him. Though it would be amazing if a single man could find a terrorist mastermind, it doesn’t happen. As is typical, Spurlock intertwines serious issues with his own brand of stand-up humor. Though Spurlock may spend a good portion of his time walking up to random caves in Afghanistan yelling “Eh! Osama you there?” the film strays from finding terrorists and toward finding reason.
“Islamic extremism” or extremism in general has been a problem, according to Spurlock. For many, it’s hard to distinguish “Islamic extremists” from normal non-extremist Muslims, at least for those who watch broadcast television. The documentary focuses a lot on trying to understand what Muslims really think of America in this ongoing “holy war.” Spurlock spends much of the 90-minute documentary talking to the families of “Islamic extremists” and the people in places like Egypt, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine about Osama Bin Laden and their hatred of the West. What becomes clear is that the general hatred is for both Osama and the American government, and not the American people. Though taking the unpopular position of defending whom many Americans would consider psychos, Spurlock takes a diplomatic approach to figuring out why they hate so much and why they have such deeply held suspicions of the United States government and the West.
According to Spurlock, the question of the Middle East become a question of what these people want. They are promised schools and aid, but they are given more war. The country of Afghanistan has faced civil war for nearly 30 years, with little reconstruction being done even after the Americans have moved on to Iraq. Spurlock’s movie is similar to many other war documentaries of this age in that it puts its crosshairs on the American government, especially President Bush, who has really failed during this era of terror. Spurlock blames this government for inciting and “exporting” terror. But he goes on to show that extremism of any kind is really the problem, whether it be Jewish settlements within Palestine, Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, or Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. The problem we see is that 1.5 billion Muslims are being generalized because of the actions of the minority. To protect ourselves, Spurlock says, we have to find out what is really important: IS it one many hiding out somewhere in Pakimenaganstan? Or is it the lack of education and resources that affect so many in the Middle East? Spurlock’s position, and his insightful view of the world affairs (though not new) does provide for some entertainment. It isn’t a question of “Where is Osama bin Laden?,” but a question of what is most important to the people of this impoverished land.