The HBO-produced documentary film Baghdad High offers a fairly basic yet intriguing enough premise: The filmmakers gave video cameras to four Iraqi high school students and asked them to simply record as much of their "normal life" as possible. (I'm of the opinion that any time you give a teenager a camera, you're getting everything BUT "normal life," but obviously I'm not the first to claim that the act of recording something instantly obliterates "normalcy.") The point here seems to be that ... hey, you know what? Aside from the fact that they live very far away in a country that's going through some terrible problems these days, these teenagers are a whole lot like ... our teenagers! Wow, how shocking is that?!?!?
What's most interesting about these kids is that, despite the fact that they all live in Iraq, they also come from very different religious backgrounds -- and yet they're still friends! (Hope for the future sometimes comes in small packages, I suppose.) All four of the boys are perfectly charming and entirely typical: They whine about homework, they stress over studies, they gripe about being bored, they argue with their parents, and they do all the stuff that your favorite teens do: Video games, pop music, sports, rough-housing, etc. So far all its admirable intentions, the simple truth is that Baghdad High makes a very good point about the similarities of human nature (especially where teens are concerned), but then it just sort of ... keeps making the same point over and over.