Does anyone else think that the TV coverage of the war looks too much like entertainment? It seems that most people are watching it not because it’s important to our lives, but because it’s exciting and, well, fun. Should war be treated as just another reality TV? If not, what can/should be done about it?
It looks like entertainment because it’s meant to be entertainment – the more entranced you are, the more you’ll watch, which means more viewers for the network and more money when they charge higher advertising rates. Plus, of course, if you’re distracted by the pretty lights, it’s easier for you to forget all the other problems in the United States and around the world today, such as the economy, the Patriot Act II, North Korea’s nuclear threat, yadda yadda yadda.
What can you do about it? Don’t watch the damn thing. There are plenty of other news sources that don’t involve attaching flashing graphics and half-baked John Williams theme music to the illegitimate bombing of a nation.
It’s entertaining to an extent, the networks have a vested interest in making it so. That said, the operations to date have gone extremely well and there is always something to be said for watching professionals do their job well. This is why we have reality based shows about doctors in emergency rooms, people occasionally die in those episodes… some due to violence. It’s fascinating to watch a skilled doctor literally wrench some poor soul back from death using the marvels we have at our disposal today. It’s similar I think… we’re watching the most powerful military the world using some of the most advanced technology there is engage in combat and manage it about as well as could be possible. I feel comfortable with this war being in the spotlight, it’s the hidden wars that you have to worry about IMO.
We SHOULD be watching. We SHOULD be interested. This is our society, and how it is managing the world at a very critical time. Everyone should be paying attention, lest we not learn some lessons that help us avoid this the next time.
Given that it’s a social good for all of us to be paying very close attention, I’m very thankful that we have a professional media that can package this and present it in a very informative and entertaining way.
But mostly informative. My god, CNN’s visuals are awesome. From live footage on the battlefront to cameras in the heart of the enemy city to digital sky views that allow commentators to ‘fly’ around the entire country and zoom in on battles to give us a sense of context. We are learningg more about the conduct of our society today than we used to, by a huge margin.
In the old days, say about 20 years ago, watching the media was like watching the world through a soda straw. We’d get photos from here or there, maybe a snippet of video, and not much else. News reports would be second or third hand, read off the write from a correspondent in a press pool somewhere.
Now, we’re all able to live it in real time, with all the best visualization tools at our disposal to understand it.
This is a great thing.
Lovely. War porn, and Sam Stone is hooked.
The only thing professional about the coverage is the high production values. There’s virtually no actual information content. never mind that it glorifies destruction. Never mind that the first report is just about always wrong. So what! the packaging is really well done; and the editorial slant is designed to validate the prejudices of the pro-war set. It’s sexy! So party on dude! So what if it’s really just just a spectacle? It’s interesting, and the porn-addicted can tell themselves that they are getting valuable information! :rolleyes:
Spare me, I’ll get my news once it’s actually information, which isn’t going to happen until after the shooting stops.
Tejota’s rule of news: If it’s really news. It will still be news a week from now.
Look closely at the logo on the bombs over Badhdad video. Al Jazeera. These same videos are streaming into every TV in the Muslim world.
And if you think this looks good to them, you’re too dumb to make your own oatmeal.
Have the US networks shown any dead or injured Iraqi civilians? At least one of the European ones did this morning. It puts the shocking & awesome images we saw yesterday into context.
Well, we carried the various news conferences that the Iraqi’s have put up, and in at least one of them, he has what he purports to be civilians that have been killed or injured in pictures.
I’m skeptical, but that’s a whole other thread.
I was talking about the way the Western media has packaged the whole thing as entertainment. I agree that much of it is vital information, and it’s better to know this than not. But shouldn’t there be a limit on how much we can glorify the war? I’m frightened that the public is led to think war is good clean fun.
Also, biased coverage can be worse than no coverage at all. We think we know everything that’s going on, and forget to think about what may be going on behind the scenes. I’m not claiming the current Iraq coverage is biased, but we can’t be sure it isn’t.
Haven’t had a teevee for seven-eight months and I’m still learning how I feel without one at a time like this. My current thoughts – and, of course my main teevee media isn’t that commercial / ratings-entertainment dependent crap in the US – is that I feel very comfortable. An odd choice of descriptions.
I talk to people and many scare me with how involved they’ve instantly become, how dependent on the tube they are to form their views, inform – if not proscribe – their morality, to relax and let talking heads shape their agenda’s … and the crazy thing is, they feel they’re knowledgeable.
Yet the teevee has presented them with the questions and the answers, the agenda and the perspectives; it wants you to accept it as the police, the prosecution, the defence, the judge and the jury.
Just early thoughts …. *I’m still fermenting * ….
Just as an aside to your last post there? Personally my favourite source of info down here in Australia at the moment isn’t the TV Journo riding in with the 7th Calvary for example - rather, it’s the body of press journalists who write for quality broadsheets - who ALSO happen to be giving radio and TV interviews over the phone from Baghdad. Man, they’re coming up with some fascinating shit.
By far, they’re the best - primarily because, unlike TV journalists who are prisoners of the medium, press journalists are free to walk the streets and interview the locals and get a real feel for what the “person on the ground in Baghdad” is thinking - in private. And so you’ll hear these guys, who speak so wonderfully well because they use the written word all the time as their weapon of choice, talking away about stuff which no one else is talking about - being set to footage which everyone else is seeing.
All in all, I’ve learnt more from the interviews with the press journalists than I have from anywhere else.
But it has to be said that the live footage with 7th Calvary is fucking awesome to watch - at a visual level.
One thing i’ve been pondering on: during the Gulf War I, the US/UK never admitted to having planes or helicopters shot down.
So what do you guys make of two helicopter “accidents” already?
It is spectacular, it is awe inspireing to see the size of the explosions and the precision which they are guided. To have actual pictures from inside the enemy city is incredable.
I am not enjoying watching. I am watching it pretty closely. Yesterday I was out and about and I listened to the coverage on NPR. Just because one is interested in what is going on, doesn’t mean you are enjoying it. I worry about the people there and how terrifying it is for them. I think about the children that are having to endure this. I think about how a parent would go about trying to keep their families safe. How would you comfort your kids or explain to them how something like this could happen?
These are some of my thoughts about the news coverage. Enjoying it? I don’t think people are enjoying it. I don’t think people are “entertained” by it.
Beware the state-sponsored hospital tour. Some journalists don’t always do their homework in this regard.
Generally, this is the culmination of 12 years of ongoing debate and thought. Ever since Gulf War I a lot of people have been concerned this might happen. Now, it actually is, and I’m not going to watch the crucial first few days of the war? No farging way.
With all the outlandish predicitons about the US bombing orphanages, schools, and hospitals I’m interested in seeing if it happens. Then I would have to eat some words. So far, I’m cooking up a plate of words for the other side to eat.
And just who, exactly, is making these “outlandish predictions about the US bombing orphanages, schools, and hospitals”? If that serving of Crow a la Beagle is is intended for moi, be advised that I make no such prediction. I merely underline the obvious: that civilian casualties in time of war are entirely unavoidable. I have no doubt that our military is as professional and humane a force as exists, or ever has existed, for that matter.
Seems to me you have set up an utterly dishonest and self-serving dichotomy: you are only wrong if the US deliberately commits war crimes.
Actually, elucidator, I do not recall you making such outlandish predictions. Moreover, I’m all for limiting civilian casualties. When I heard the so-called Shock and Awe plan described by some of the US media I assumed, first, that they had it wrong and were reporting some typically mutated version of what would actually happen. Or, two, I thought “Shit!” I hope we don’t strike at a whole bunch of targets in Baghdad right away.
So far, including the al Jazeera pictures, I have not seen any bombing in civilian areas at all. According to Peter Arnett (not a US government lapdog) the bombings in Baghdad happened in an area filled with government buildings. Thus, I question any claims of large numbers of civilian casualties.
As much as I respect everyone’s right to mourn over every death in this war, and criticize war generally, and I do - sometimes there are thousands of what I will call quiet casualties that take place when you leave a certifiable sadistic tyrant in power. If half the stories about Saddam are true, it is worth a fairly substantial war (even with civilian casualties) to dislodge him.*
Right now every network is showing stories about every death in this war. Meanwhile, Saddam could torture ten people to death, the only mention might be on human rights websites eight months later.
I would love to hear your definition of war crime if there is no element of intent.
*And, no, I personally do not have to care what GWB’s actual motivations are for the war. I can judge him on his actions.
If Saddam’s relative evil is to be your cassus belli, then I think you are obliged to install that as your guiding principle. Otherwise, it is merely a convenience to be hauled out to justify policies decided upon for other motives entirely.
Is it your proposition that the US shall become a nuclear armed Don Quixote? That we are dedicated to rooting out evil dictators wheresoever they are? If that is the case, say so, and we can debate the relative wisdom of such a policy. If not, kindly do not insult my intelligence by claiming the moral high ground while hiding the true motivations behind your back. I’m not that stupid unless heavily sedated.
Seems to me, if the Iraqi regime gives up and the americans seize Bagdad without fight, the civilian casualties may be held down at low numbers.
If and when US/UK ground troops have to take bagdad by force, civilian casulties in large number are probably inevitable.
But i don’t understand why you would question the 200 or so civilians that iraq claims injured? Seems like pretty low numbers, considering the extent of bombing to me…
I don’t recall any debate over numbers. I questioned the typically propagandistic “hospital tour.” With a few minutes of preparation and some fresh bandages I can make any hospital look like a war just broke out.
I’m glad you mentioned the city fighting. I think the US is going to put that off as long as possible. I don’t see us engaging in it until it cannot possibly be avoided.
I would bet US troops will be all over Iraq by the end of today. By that I mean just about every major city will have troops nearby. Still, I’m guessing, there will be no city fighting right away. Not started by the US anyway.
First there will be massive intelligence gathering, followed by psychological operations and negotiations. Then, I’m still guessing, as a last resort we will use overwhelming firepower against the holdouts. I don’t think we will go house to house in Iraqi cities. There are ways to avoid that.
Back to the war coverage. I love how boring it has been so far from an action adventure standpoint. The goal of the war was to strategically control Iraq to facilitate toppling the regime. So far we’ve avoided massive ground engagements or having to slaughter the Iraqi army. That is fantastic. I hope it stays that way.