Manning the Muse: The Creative Interpretations of an Alleged WikiLeaker
Bradley Manning's arrest and confinement on charges that he provided secret government documents to WikiLeaks quickly became a cause celebre, to the extent that before his first courtroom appearance on Friday a substantial and growing trove of Manning-inspired creative works has already sprouted up.
Bradley Manning's arrest and confinement on charges that he provided secret government documents to WikiLeaks quickly became a cause celebre, to the extent that before his first courtroom appearance on Friday a substantial and growing trove of Manning-inspired creative works has already sprouted up. Between a Manning indie movie, a Manning play, and a host of Manning-inspired songs and paintings, Manning himself has become quite the muse for the creative set. And the real-life courtroom drama hasn't even started. Could the Manning trial turn out to be the most portrayed U.S. court martial ever? It's off to a good start, though there's not a lot of competition.
Manning, the movie: In classic anti-secrecy fashion, Director Kyle Broom posted his 20-minute Manning treatment, Prevention of Injury, to Vimeo after screening it at a few Occupy Wall Street sites instead of taking it through the festival circuit, Salon reports. The film deals with an unnamed detainee in a military jail who, while he doesn't look like Manning, clearly represents the one-time Army specialist. You can watch the whole thing here:
Manning, the play: British playwright Tim Price wrote The Radicalization of Bradley Manning because, he said, he identified with Manning "as a human being first," who "shared certain values." Those include Manning's decision to follow his own code ahead of his military one, but they also include his ties to Wales, from which Price hails. The Guardian has more:
As he wrote in a blogpost on the Guardian's Stage site LINK: "This young soldier, who names the president of the United States as a defence witness, knows bus timetables around Haverfordwest. This young man who played a part in the Arab spring, knows the trials of schoolboy rugby. This young soldier who apparently chose his moral code over his military one, speaks rudimentary Welsh."
Staged in April, The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning explores the role Wales played in Manning's journey from sexually confused schoolboy to world-famous whistleblower. "Wales has such a comprehensive radical past from the Chartists all the way up to Aneurin Bevan," says Price. "I think coming to Wales [from a small city in Oklahoma] with his first exposure to nonconformist thought, how big a part that played in forming his ideas is up for debate, but it certainly played a part."
Manning, the music: A YouTube search turns up quite a few Manning-inspired musical numbers, but some in particular stand out. Political folikie David Rovics has scored a moderate hit (as far as political folk songs go) with his tune Song for Bradley Manning. Rovic will be performing at a vigil for Manning outside his hearing at Ft. Meade. Here's a video:
Another group of folkies, Cabin of Love, has a version of the French folk tune Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella, with the lyrics changed to be about Manning as the victim of tyranny:
Then there's that Fresh Juice song with which protesters were heckling Barack Obama way back in April:
Manning, the artwork: The Bradley Manning Support Network website has a whole Images and Paintings section, with various prints, paintings, and photos (including the one that leads this post, a still from the Collateral Murder video Manning allegedly leaked). A lot of them use the iconic photo of him in uniform that's become so familiar, such as this from an artist known as Devolve: