with support from the corporation for public broadcasting

The Devil in Me

February 24, 2009 by Heather

To tell the story of Sam and the Muslim Association I would begin with an interview of Sam describing himself before he enlisted in the Army.  I would supplement this interview with photos of him at Purdue and interviews with his parents.

Next, I would have Same talk about enlisting in the Army and once again supplement the footage with any photos.  I would continue the interview by having Sam talk about the early days of the invasion and get permission to use footage of Iraqi’s dancing and cheering in the streets after the invasion.  The next scene would be Sam describing the ambush on 9 October 2003, supplemented with footage of soldiers fighting in Iraq.  Next, I would transition to Sam and his experience at the recruiting station.  I would let Sam tell the story and show photographs of palm trees and the Mosque as he brings them up.  After that I would have Sam talk about retiring from the service and starting school at Parkland College, meanwhile showing images of the campus.  I would let Sam descibe his feelings during the first encounter of Yossuf and have the two reenact the meeting up until Sam sees the Muslim Student Association poster.  The next reenactment would be Sam’s first meeting.  I would then return to the interview of Sam describing how each meeting got better and how he moved away from the door.  I would conclude the film by having Sam and Yossuf interview together.  This segment would include how their friendship grew after Sam performed the magic tricks and the two watching and commenting on Sam’s Iraq footage.

I believe Sam’s character is humanized after he talks about breaking down in the recruiting station.  For many people, admitting you have a problem is difficult.  It is even more difficult to ask for help.  I think it is remarkable that Sam got help from the VA and even more so that he took his recovery into his own hands.  I also believe Yossuf’s character is humanized when he talks about his fear to voice his opposition to the war in the beginning.  I believe many other middle easterners felt the same way during the start of the war.  They may not have opposed it, but I’m sure they were fearful of Americans reactions to them.  Unfortunately, we still live in a world that stereotypes people and since they looked foreign, they must be a terrorist—WRONG!

The believe there is more than one arc of the story.  The first is evident when Sam is still in Iraq.  During the invasion, the Iraqi’s loved the Americans and Sam had no reason to hate Muslims.  However, after the betrayal on 9 October 2003, Sam was transformed.  He grew to hate all Muslims.  I believe the second arc occured in the recruiting office after he heard all the “lies” the other recruiters told about the war in Iraq.  This lead Sam to breakdown, retire, get help from the VA, and enter college—ultimately leading him to Yossuf and the Muslim Student Association.

I believe the hook of the story occurs in the very beginning when we hear Sam and Yossuf giving their season’s greetings message and then learn Sam “hated” muslims.  It makes us want to learn how did Sam get from one extreme to the next.

The story is an exceptional story.  It shows us through voice how two men completely different can let their guard down and become the best of friends.  If everyone could do this, what a world it would be.  Now, I don’t want to sound like a “hippy”, but I feel if this were the case there would not be war, just harmony.

Anyway, even though the story is more focused on Sam’s transition from hatred to friendship, I believe we also see the journey Yossuf took.  Yossuf was opposed to the war, yet he became friends with a man who fought and killed in his country.  Despite the reservations from Yossuf’s friends about Sam and seeing the video of Sam in Iraq, he was able to become friends with Sam.

With this in mind, I think using Yossuf as the primary character the documentary could take a different and interesting angle.  The film could begin with Yossuf talking about his fear when the war broke out.  Then Yossuf could describe the first Muslim Student Association meeting Sam attended with a reenactment.  Next, the campus run in where Sam shakes Yossuf’s hand could be described and reenacted.  Afterwards, Yossuf could describe the significance of this handshake due to Sam’s hatred of Muslims.  Finally, the film could conclude with Yossuf talking through the footage of Sam in Iraq and why he was not offended.



February 26, 2009

heather, thank you. I like the way you consider whose perspective gets privileged, and what might happen Yossuf were the primary character. Very thoughtful response.

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