Volume 95, Issue 43
Friday, November 16, 2001
Profs slam television war
CNN and Hollywood create fake reality
By Marcus Maleus
Television may be entertaining and visually stimulating, but as a source of reliable war coverage, it leaves a lot to be desired, according to a panel of Western professors.
"Terror, War and Blind TV" was a discussion presented jointly by the department of modern languages and literature and the graduate program in comparative literature yesterday at University College.
English professor Michael Zryd discussed the relationship between Hollywood's fascination with disaster movies and the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The most successful genre of movies is disaster," he said. "Most successful movies have some element of disaster in them. Even Titanic, although a love story, did have a disaster element. On Sept. 11, Hollywood immediately recognized itself."
"The notable differences are that in films, characters are defined by traits they are not fully human and social forces appear only as obstacles to the will of the characters," he said.
"In reality, there isn't always closure, like there is in the movies. The United States government says it seeks to eradicate terrorism as some sort of closure. This is impossible," Zryd said.
Zryd spoke of the relationship between Hollywood and the U.S. government since Sept. 11.
"There is very little critiquing [of] the strengthening of ties between Hollywood and the government," Zryd said. "Television is showing us nothing because everything is secret."
English professor Thomas Carmichael addressed the inadequacies of television as an informative medium.
"The great thing about TV is you can watch it without any sound and not lose any content," he said. "We can only understand what TV tells us, which is virtually nothing. We haven't learned how to really watch TV."
The Sept. 11 attacks, according to Carmichael, have sparked a furious propaganda war, for which the U.S. government has hired public relations specialists.
"Coverage is, overwhelmingly, effect-oriented. It's all about spectacle a mute spectacle topped with chatter," he said.
Calin Mihailescu from the department of modern languages also spoke disappointingly of TV coverage of the attacks.
"Afghanistan is a hell," she said. "You haven't seen any alarming images of what's going on. The TV coverage has no depth. We're made to look away from what's going on."
Much of the talk centered around CNN as the guilty party in the unreliability of TV news coverage.
"With the fall of the Berlin Wall, CNN became the emperor of the day," Mihailescu said.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001