Trenchant Lemmings
Pointed missives thrown blindly into the void, there to pass unnoticed and unloved.
Deja Vu

This time last war, I wandered down to Pitt Street Mall. In front of the large multiscreen TV installation there (now extant*) scores of people were standing, neatly in rows, all facing the giant screen, like extras in a DEVO video, while CNN's best and brightest created news out of rumour and speculation. Earlier that day, before the bombing started, we'd been working at our desks with a transistor radio on, so we could hear the war start. A security guard from the foyer would come in every ten minutes to check for updates. When the air raid started, he rang his wife. I heard the conversation: "Hi darlin'. Yeah, love, they've commenced bombing. Yeah. No, I should be home by six."

I was reminded of this guy while watching the developing carnage of the 9/11 atrocity. We seem to have acquired this touching belief that because we can get round-the-clock video footage of history "as it happens" this somehow puts us in the loop. I don't think so - I think it just underlines our impotence.

A timely reminder of the vacuity of TV reportage, particularly in the early stages of war, can be found in Douglas Kellner's comprehensive media critique The Persian Gulf TV War. This book is out of print but the full text is accessible online, for free, here.

* Here I use extant in its "complete opposite of what the word actually means" sense. Perhaps I was trying to type "extinct".

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