Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Grey Shades of Terrorism

Two things are on my mind today. Both rehash ideas that have been tossed around by others but today I need to say my piece.
The first is a beef about CNN. At my day job I spend my breaks in the staff room. It is a relatively pleasant rest spot even with the TV on. In fact, I like watching it. I haven’t owed a TV for over thirty years. Sure I will watch it when I visit my father but other than that I am still lost in a time warp of Gilligan’s Island reruns. That is, until I started this part-time job.
I take a liberal approach to whatever happens to be on—I never change the channel; just open my mind to what the nation, or at least a lot of folk, are watching. It’s been entertaining and sometimes even illuminating … but most of the time its utter crazy making. Who knew that people still jumped up and down in a frenzy on The Price is Right, albeit for Drew Carey and not Bob Barker; that Dr. Phil has developed quite the messianic complex—he actually delivers his summaries from a pulpit like structure—and that storage locker auction sites are considered exciting viewing?
Then again, there is a bizarre continuity in this that somehow reassures me. Haven’t we as a society always liked and expected TV to be simple with carefully boxed up and/or scripted emotions? What bothers me about some aspects of TV, however, is its need to attract viewers with extremism. The most blatant example being CNN.
Recently CNN has been frequently on the tube due to the Boston Marathon bombing. And although it certainly was a horrific tragedy, CNN made it worse by repeatedly showing the same images. Over the course of a half hour, I watched identical footage of the first exploding bomb at least twenty times. To the naïve eye it would appear that Boston was under siege and experiencing continuous attacks. This carried on throughout the week.  Even the commentary seemed to fortify this conclusion.   Reporters and newscasters asked sensational questions or dropped cliffhanging ones just before the commercial break. It was akin to thirty years ago when the TV viewing public was constantly asked: Who shot JR?
In the shades of grey that is our life, CNN breeds it own kind of terrorism. And, like its fellow terrorists who deal in misguided interpretations of religion or politics, it comes down to greed. The powers that be behind both the newscasters and the bombers don’t care about people; they care only about their own desires for power and money.
The second thing on my mind is the realization that even after years of feminist focussed readings and classes, consciousness raising workshops and political discussions quoting Chomsky, Klein and Berger… I still view a magazine advert, billboard or a TV commercial and almost (and I stress the word almost) be persuaded that if I do “x”, buy “y” or eat “z” I will be happier, safer and prettier.
If this can still happen to me, how much more vulnerable is the naïve twelve year old?
Terrorism comes in all forms.

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