The War on TV

I haven’t been watching much of it–I find it hard to take–(whereas Jacalyn has had it on all evening)–but the war coverage on CNN and the other news channels is quite bizarre. Endless shots taken from, and showing, tanks rolling across the utterly empty desert, nothing happening, nothing to see except for the occasional white flag of surrendering Iraqi soldiers (who look like they haven’t gotten a square meal, or a bath or a change of clothes, in weeks). Inane, repetitious voiceovers by the news anchors and reporters, reminding me of nothing so much as the “color commentary” in football games. This is quite different from the war-as-videogame metaphor that dominated media coverage of the first Gulf War. This time, it’s war as reality television. Only it’s not edited down the way Survivor or Anna Nicole are, where each day is compressed into seven minutes or so. Screen time equals real time in the Gulf War Show, which gives it an oddly avant-garde quality. Boredom is the sole redeeming quality of this war coverage. But I wonder what will happen when they get to the actual carnage–will it be the reality show version of Saving Private Ryan, or will it simply not be shown at all?

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