Sunday, July 16, 2006

The impact of globalism on war in the media


The recent escalation of hostilities between Israel and Lebanon (I hate to call it a "war," although that is what it is) demonstrates more clearly than any previous conflict the impact of globalism on how war is seen in the media. The picture above epitomizes this.

Lebanon and Israel are both westernized countries with many amenities of the globalized world. In the photograph you see the mix of old and new - the traditionally-garbed woman, and the father and daughter hustling by in completely neutrally global western gear. Whereas the American audience might not respond to images of people traditionally garbed (since we view such things as alien to us), the American audience will respond to images of people "just like us" getting killed. And many of the Lebanese and Israelis do in fact look "just like us."

Here, we have a war where the images maximize the impact they will have on the western world. These are 'civilized' countries at war. More importantly, here we have a war that the media has free access to, unlike our censored venture into Iraq.

Here in the US, we've forgotten that war can be brutal. The sanitized images brought to us by our embedded reporters showed more jubilance than suffering. The number of civilian casualties in Iraq is presented as an insignificant, incomprehensible number - a number without faces behind it. And at home, the boys coming home without arms and legs, with shattered minds and broken spines, blind, deaf, and crippled are left to fade away from public memory, even though they seem to be more and more visible with each day that passes.

In this war we have faces. We have faces on both sides - faces that look "just like us."

War is brutal. Maybe seeing it this way will remind some people of this fact.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Understand that I will never forgive my superiors for not being superior.)
If there us anything that could make me want to go cultural revolutionary and raze every university in the country it is your strange and completely uncharacteristic fits of brainless wonkism. Globalization is third worlders all getting laptops and grateful to us for slave labor! Maybe seeing Western t-shirts, which LEBANESE WERE WEARING TEN AND TWENTY YEARS AGO AND LONGER, will affect Americans who think and enable Israelis to do whatever they want. Hitler is vindicated by Israel inasmuch as they demonstrate that international law really is a bad academic joke that aspires to racist selective enforcement.
What is really happening is, Ehud Olmert is in way over his head; even the chosen are saying this. His batshit insane Israel makes that of Ariel Sharon look like a Prussian model of order, sensibility, thrift and intelligent militarism: who could've foreseen leftists wishing Sharon could come back? Olmert, who never in his life was anything until he attached himself to Sharon as a lackey and personal PR man in the army, is trying to be Osama with a better staff, budget and toy box. There is absolutely nothing in the Israeli terrorism, from using massive naval shells to fry a beach party, to trying to murder American citizens on the runway of a civilian airport miles away from terrorist camps, that can even be argued (Bush's wisdom aside) to be any kind of response to or defense from Hizbullah. And for once lots and lots of people realize this.
Maybe this is the real globalization "angle," and far from a human interest dead end about clothing (which really hasn't changed in Lebanon), it appears in American liberal chatrooms. A year and a half ago talking truthfully about Israel at all got you banned; Jews are very important to what passes for a liberal political establishment here, and they are positively SAtalinist about certain subjects. About half that time ago, more and more fringe characters started talking regularly and normally about it. Three months ago it was a normal subject like global warming.
Now ordinary people who have never before expressed an opinion about Israel want to know what shelling a picnic or smashing a civilian airport without warning has to do with stability. Without the proper Zionist re-education, it would certainly appear to the uneducated ignorant masses to be the very opposite of seeking stability.

Also, an interesting note on Maoists here.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Nixie said...

What I'm trying to get at is that while 20 years ago, Lebanese were certainly much more western than many people in the world today, today it's the combination of the instant media images (through the medium of the internet in particular - which allows the dissemination of much greater volumes of information - see for instance Google News for a sampling of the countless thousands of articles on this situation) and the impact of everyone becoming the same that may have more of an effect on the average (NOT liberal blog reading) American.

We don't care about people blowing up other people if the people involved don't at least superficially remind us of us. That's just the way we are.

If Americans are questioning Israeli actions, it is not through some sort of sudden development of a conscience. It's not because of seeing western clothes. But seeing western clothes will have a proportionally greater impact than seeing someone in a hijab will.

Many Americans are shallow. And anything that helps get them to realize the brutality of war (of all war - NOT just Israeli actions), even if it is something as superficial as people looking more like us, is a good thing.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you underestimate American shallowness, and I also fail to see how you aren't essentially circling back to the same nonpoint you won't defend. Why are you lollygagging about not-clothig-but-the-deeper-meaning-of-the-clothing when you have "A Scanner Darkly" to watch? Viddy it and do a post on that.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous JSZ0 said...

You might be right about the westernization effect creating sympathy among people who actually care enough to read the news but I have zero faith in the masses to break out of their little bubble and accept that world politics is something worth caring about. Sadly I think most Americans except war as being entirely justified. There's still no national outcry about the violence in Iraq or Africa.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An outstanding bit mentioning the Moscow apartment block bombings which were all but officially proven to be the work of the Russian government.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nixie, nixie, nixie: all this hard work is just an excuse for you to not see the indisputable greatest movie of 2006, A Scanner Darkly.

10:05 PM  

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