Monday, August 23, 2010

Media Manipulation

Like most things that go "viral" on the internet these days, I usually see it after one of my friends post it on Facebook. I'm not sure if this video was one of these but several people that I know posted it to their Facebook pages and commented how wonderful it is and how they got the warm fuzzies from it.

It is over ten minutes long but you only have to see a little bit of it to know how the whole thing goes:

So yea, it is a ten-minute montage of soldiers surprising their families - some moms and wives, but mostly kids - who didn't know they were coming home. Accompanied by shitty, new-age yuppie music (Praan by Gary Schyman, which appears to be this year's favorite montage music much like Solsbury Hill was several years back) it was created with the sole purpose of puling at your heartstrings. And I suppose it works. But I had a different reaction.

I tend to pride myself on saying that I don't get offended by anything. Sure things annoy me, piss me off or make me think, "what the fuck...?" But I don't think I get offended in the same way that people who use that word, like those who were up in arms about Janet Jackson's booby (almost) being flashed on TV. But this video might be an exception.

I think this manipulative piece of shit is the definition of offensive.

Some of these clips look like home videos, but it appears a good majority of them are from media outlets, both national and local. And I know from seeing some of these clips before that these surprise coming homes at kids' schools were set up by the media themselves and were not just cameras tagging along.

So what we've got is media corporations setting up these choreographed surprises of a kid seeing their dad for the first time in probably months, and maybe even a year or more. For what purpose? Well, ratings to be sure is one reason. But even more disturbing is how this type of storyline is used to change the narrative of war to something warm, fuzzy and patriotic from what war really is about. It is not much different than the schlocky movies that came out of Hollywood during World War II. It wouldn't be surprising to find out that the Pentagon had a hand in setting some of these up just as they had involvement in those movies from the 1940s.

And this is what the media does. Rather than investigate what a war is about, why it is being fought and the brutality that is happening, we get heartwarming homecoming videos and a heroic president landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit. And yet the conservatives of this country continue to to push the bizarre charge of "liberal bas" in the media.

Another purpose of a video like this is to prop up the conservative charge that to criticize a war or the (Republican) President is to "spit" on the "troops" and, by extension, their children. But who is spitting on the children here?

I just don't understand how people can look at this and have good feeling about it.

How dare they use children this way? These kids are going through what is probably the most emotionally fragile time of their lives. One of their parents has been halfway around the world for a long time (even longer to a kid) fighting a war and there is a good chance they won't come back from it. When this parent does come home someone thinks it is a good idea to surprise them in front of news cameras, at their school surrounded by their classmates? Who's to say how that might affect a kid? Do the producers even consider that? Do the parents? The principals and teachers who let it happen in their schools?

Another issue, do they check to make sure this kid is not in a class with the child of a soldier who maybe came home in a box and that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to do this in front of them?
I don't think they give a shit as long as they get their ratings and get across the narrative they are selling. Fuck the children.

If anyone suggested that they have cameras there when they tell a kid that mom or dad are not coming home because they were blown up, nobody would think that an appropriate thing to do.

This isn't either.

People shouldn't feel warm and fuzzy from looking at this video. They should be pissed and be reminded of why these homecomings are happening in the first place. Because the media is not doing the job it is supposed to be doing.

If they were then maybe we would be living in a world different from one where soldiers get ripped apart from their families because of stupid, pointless wars started by a retarded Texan for the financial benefit of his pals in the military-industrial complex.


Anonymous said...

I saw this piece of video a while back; I actually never paused to think about it since these sort of things are a dime a dozen, and they don't particularly touch me in any way.

But it's not in anybody's interest to show the coffins and the body bags arriving on cargo planes. And certainly, as you outline, this sort of video elicits all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings and ooohs and awwwws and most importantly: ratings (which translate into revenue, of course).

A while back I did a column here about Wikileaks. I've been meaning to do many follow ups on Wikileaks; but either I have no time or I'm lazy. Or both.

Anyway, Wikileaks works for me, and in this climate is necessary. I don't believe one iota of that rubbish the Pentagon and the government is putting out there regarding Wiki endangering Afghans' lives. And just look at the despicable, irresponsible charges were first brought, then quickly rescinded against Julian Assange.

Wikileaks is extremely dangerous for governments and military, and media in general. To counteract the warm and fuzzy junk that we see in pieces such as this video in this post, we have the horrendous massacre caught on the gun camera from the helicopter in Iraq that Wiki first exposed some months back.

Wikileaks is the antidote to the media as we know it now.

Keith said...

I hadn't yet seen any videos like the one you've posted here. Watching this video through the lens you've presented, though, I am compelled to agree with you on the balance of the things you've said.

Now that you've got me thinking, the sad fact may be that we just don't have enough critical thinkers in our country, let alone the media, to make the connections that you make in your article, and so opinions like yours get relegated to the fringe, or labeled "unpatriotic."

Too many people are only letting the media wash over them, never actually inserting their own intellectual analysis into what they read or watch. Say what you will about the media, and I won't stop you, but a lack of critical media consumption (which includes not only thinking, but writing reaction pieces, etc.) is also to blame. In other words, they can serve us shit, but that doesn't mean we have to eat it, right?

Bravo! Thought-provoking stuff, man.

P.S. I wasn't sure you were going to be able to work the phrase "military-industrial complex" into the article, but you slipped it in just under the wire! You make me proud!

anna said...

Probably not the reaction you, or the media involved with this pablum, were after, but... about 2:21 into this video I felt compelled to blow up some shit.

That is my highly intellectual response.