Sunday, October 22, 2006

Reality TV

We Americans love our reality television. Celebrities pondering whether tuna is fish or chicken? Unruly children being whipped into shape by a British nanny? Pop star wannabies battling it out to be the next person we worship? We can't get enough. Yet when it comes to actual reality some of us can't take it. You've probably guessed by now that I'm referring to the sniper video that 360 aired last week. As I have stated before, I knew from the second they showed it that the hate mail was going to come flying in, but the reaction out there is ridiculous. The chairman of the US Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, has called for the Pentagon to remove CNN embedded reporters, stating, "I think Americans like to think we're all in this together. The average American Marine or soldier has concluded after seeing that film that CNN is not on their side." So now CNN is with the terrorists just because they're trying to show us what is really going on over there? It's unbelievable.

Doing a quick scan of blog posts you can find numerous accusations of treason against CNN and I'd just like to know why these people are so afraid of reality? Why are we not allowed to see the bodies coming home?
Why do we hardly ever see the bloodied wounded?

Why, in January 2005, did the rest of the world see this little girl (splattered in the blood of her parents who were accidentally killed by US forces at a makeshift checkpoint) all over their news, but we in the US barely got a glimpse?

Why do we NEVER see anything like these pictures in our newspapers or on television? Are they pleasant to view? Of course not. But this is a real war in real life with horrible consequences for real people. Not only should it not be hidden from us, we should be forced to look. Because it's all being done in our name and it infuriates me when people get outraged or offended that the news might show something that makes them feel bad.

I don't understand why the right wing is so upset about CNN showing the video other than it makes them feel bad. They say it helps the terrorists, but how? Tony Snow thinks the insurgents are using the video to "break the will of the American people," but I've got news for him. If this was a just war with competent leadership and defined goals, no horrible insurgent video could "break the will of the American people." But this is not a just war, the leadership isn't even competent enough to flip burgers at McDonald's, and even most of the people doing the fighting don't know why the hell we're really over there. So you see Mr. Snow, the will of the American people has already been broken and though the insurgents are most certainly guilty of heinous crimes, it wasn't them that did the breaking. It was the administration you speak for.

It's not only the sanitization of the war that bothers me, it's also people's insistence on seeing good news on their tv screens. Months back I was reading Brian Williams' blog and he told of how when people recognized him in airports and whatnot they always complained about how the news was always so depressing. Out of this feedback, a segment entitled, "Making A Difference" was born and it now airs every Friday. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to see good news on the national news. In fact, at this point in time I never want to see it. Now don't get me wrong, I like good news. Who doesn't? But for every feel good fluffy story they air, there is corruption remaining hidden and people in need going unhelped. I don't need the news to uplift me, I have Oprah and many other venues to do that. Why are we so afraid of reality? If we suddenly all learned we were living in the Matrix I fear most people given the choice, would opt to remain willfully ignorant. I for one would take the red pill. Always. Sometimes I feel like I already have.

Photos: England Journal of Medicine via Hondros


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with stories that are inspiring. Stories about everyday people trying to make a difference. Nothing wrong with that after all.
What I do have a problem with is fluff news. We have to hear about Brangelina's daughter's middle name, how much they spent on flying in an OB/GYN , blah,blah, blah... At what point did this crap become what we call news. Oh and by the way, at the same time there was an earthquake going on in Indonesia where millions of people were displaced, homes destroyed, hopes for the future shattered, thousands of lives lost. BBC world news ( that I respect and watch daily ) alloted less time to the earthquake. That angers me to no end.
It's a no brainer why the American government wants to sanitize the war. I don't understand how the US government doles out billions of dollars to send troops to Iraq and yet 46 million hard-working, tax-paying middle-class Americans don't have public health care. That's insane! Where are their priorities. Why is it that more Americans are not outraged. Maybe our fellow American bloggers can enlighten me because I have to say I just don't get it. Why is it that more people vote for an American Idol than vote for their president? I think we're kept so distracted that we don't see the direction our country, our world is going. I hope we'll wake up soon before it's too late.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Sharla said...

"...people get outraged or offended that the news might show something that makes them feel bad."

Yup, that's it right there! Americans are oblivious and choose not to notice because, well, yeah- it'll make them feel bad that they're a bunch of self-absorbed jerks.

I would take the red pill too, dammit. Lemme out!!

10:51 AM  
Anonymous ivy said...

@anon -- my take on the questions you asked:
spending astronomical amounts on this war vs. healthcare -- greed and corruption.
more people voting for american idol then for a president -- egocentrism and ignorance on a national level.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your post. I'm frustrated with the media, the government and most of all, the millions of people who just don't seem to care what happens in this world.

They go into the suburban beige boxes after working just hard enough to get their paycheck. They can't look further than the three feet in front of them to realize that everything happening in the world has consequences for them.

As long as they can continue to drive the military style vehicles, drink their $4 cup of coffee and let corrupt, immoral and undeserving people run this country, their sons and daughters can continue to die for those rights.

I, on the other hand, will be waiting in the corner to say 'I told you so', and watch as eventually our country and the world is torn apart even further.

11:12 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

anonymous1-I don't have a problem with inspiring stories either, I just don't want them taking up what is already only a 22 minute evening newscast. I'm more lenient when it comes to 360 because that's a 2 hour show. There's plenty of inspiring tv out there (Oprah, Extreme Home Makeover...). And yeah, the fluff news drives me up a wall.

The American Idol thing is a myth because you are allowed to vote more than once. Many more people vote for the president, but I understand and agree with what you're saying. We live in a culture now that prioritizes celebrity, money, and just plain shallowness, and quite frankly it's slowing killing us. I mean, a Kansas City tv station just opted to show "Dancing With The Stars" instead of the senate debate that they were SPONSERING! How do we even begin to fix this?

2:30 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Anonymous2-I'm furious with my fellow Americans too. There's no way things would have gotten this bad if people were just simply paying attention. Hell, only 60% of voters turned out in 2004. The same percentage turned out in Iraq under threat of death. What is wrong with this picture?

Critics of the war/adminstration have basically been right about everything these past 6 years, yet I never wanted to be right about any of it. However, I will never say 'I told you so' because in my view it's just not helpful. When people are considering that they might me wrong and are thinking of changing their minds, saying 'I told you so' could push them back to the dark side. So while I'll defintely think it, I'll try my hardest not to say it.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous AndysGirl said...

I think people don't want to see the serious stuff is indeed, because it makes them feel bad. But it's not just feeling bad, it's feeling bad with a feeling of helplessness and being powerless.

I follow a number of environmental causes online and they ask you to write to your government officials and ask them to do this or that and show how you feel about these issues. But the fact is, this administration does not care how we feel about the issues. Aren't they in office to represent us and our views and choices? It's bad enough that we have a selected president rather than an elected one. But what's worse is that he doesn't represent the whole country, only those who agree with him.

I can handle knowing about and watching bad news like Hurricane Katrina as long as there is a way to help or change the course of events.

I still think if this sniper video had been aired last year, no one would have objeccted; the objections are there because it's weeks before an election.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can't make a difference if we remain ignorant. Its disgraceful how little we know about what's going on around the world. I'm curious where other bloggers get their news from.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Mathilde said...

Eliza, I agree with what you wrote 100%. In the first Gulf War the other Bush administration admitted they wanted to control coverage of the war because they believed the public was turned against the Vietnam war because of graphic coverage on TV. At this point most Americans are against the Iraq war and all the screaming about treason is fuel by desperation. One blogger, in addition to the usual slurs, expressed a wish that Anderson had jumped off the building with his brother. Lovely people.

10:18 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@andysgirl-I agree that a feeling of helplessness plays into it. I actually wrote Jon Klein a long email last year after they got rid of Aaron expressing all the things I thought were wrong with CNN and ideas for how to make it better. One of the things I urged him to do was to move toward advocacy, meaning don't just show a sad story, also show people how to help.

No matter how helpless people feel they should never give up because that's exactly what these people want. The Bush administration wants us to turn away from everything. I have to disagree about the election being the only reason people are freaking out now. There have been a few other incidents where something has been aired and there has been a similar reaction. Kevin Sites filming a soldier killing a wounded and surrendering insurgent comes to mind.

@mathilde-One blogger, in addition to the usual slurs, expressed a wish that Anderson had jumped off the building with his brother. Lovely people.

My God. Although really I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I hope he's not reading any of this crap.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Sharla said...

Good lord mathilde!! Some one actually SAID THAT?!! What a horrid person.

Those who say others are intolerant of their beliefs, are intolerant of OTHER'S beliefs.

Go figure.

And Anonymous, I will answer: I get my news from LOTS of places-,, Little Green Footballs, QuizLaw, Arizona Republic, Wikipedia, Google... whatever. I read it all. And ALL of them have their different slants and whacked ideas. Especially Little Green Footballs. I read that one mainly because the comment section is hilarious.

Anderson, though, is my favorite news personality (if you could even classify that man), because he's REAL. I hate Barbie and Ken doll reporters.

11:04 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous-I missed your question about where we get our news. Anyway, besides the links I have on this blog and AC360, I watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann, NOW on PBS, usually 60 Minutes, and occasionally NBC Nightly News. I subscribe to Newsweek, Mother Jones, Harpers, and Rolling Stone (they have good political coverage). I also read my local Sunday paper, as well as read numerous articles throughout the week that I come across online.

12:01 AM  
Blogger midnite6367 said...

I saw a comment on someone's blog saying they hoped Anderson got AIDS and rots in hell for having shown the insurgent video. These people are insane.

I was disappointed that CNN didn't air the entire video without blacking out the moment of impact. People need to face facts regardless of how "bad" it makes them feel. I don't like sugarcoating, I want reality and especially with something as critical as the war in Iraq.

7:39 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@midnite-And I thought bringing up his brother was low. Do these people not realize it wasn't just his decision? Anyway, I'm with you, I want reality. As long as the soldiers weren't identifiable, I think we should have seen the whole thing.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Mathilde said...

Eliza, that picture of the little girl breaks my heart. Another blogger calling himself SteveAudio made the excellent point that some people are getting more upset that a soldier was shown being killed, than about the fact that he WAS killed.

10:27 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

That's a good point. As I said in an email to 360, those soldiers would be dead whether they showed it or not.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Sharla said...

I wonder- are those people SANE? Do they KNOW what they are saying? What if someone wished that on them?


Thinking about Anderson- where has he run off to?

11:18 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

He's on vacation apparently. Getting it in before the elections I guess.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Mathilde said...

I hear he's on vacation. Odd.

11:49 PM  
Blogger xtina said...

I'm a libertarian, but must point out that some very prominent "right wingers" as you say, are in favor of showing CNN's graphic vid. (Oreilly and Tucker Carlson are examples) so I don't think it fair to generalize. Face it, if conservatives don't want the video they are "hiding" things, if they DO, well they can't possibly be agreeing with CNN because they can't think independently. Thanks for the blog.

2:55 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@xtina-I saw that about Tucker and Oreilly and good for them I guess. I consider Oreilly more crazy than anything really, with sporadic bouts of saneness. And Tucker, well, does anyone even watch Tucker? The fact of the matter is that the people going nuts over this are all on the Right.

3:13 PM  
Blogger xtina said...

I just think that the Defense Dept. wants the media to be discreet. It's not a power play. Anti-war people think the Military isn't succeeding but a lot of military stuff is undercover. It's like those old WWII posters "loose lips sink ships". This may be the first war we have fought since The Revolutionary War where our soldiers have had to worry about harm to their families from enemy sleepers inside our own country. This may be why we are not hearing as much about war heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan as we have heard in previous wars. It’s a real shame not to hear the stories, but it’s hard to argue against suppressing the news if discretion is necessary to keep loved ones safe. Videos such as CNN's could be harmful, we don't know.

I wish people wouldn't think that suppressing the videos of heroics of US forces means that the US isn't succeeding in their mission. I think the Def. Dept. wants to be discreet because they know that terrorists live in the US too.

5:15 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@xtina-I'll have time for a longer answer later, but all I have to say is they sure didn't waste time talking up Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillmon every chance they got. Of course both situations turned out to be lies.

6:09 PM  

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