accidental media boycott
March 11, 2002 11:22 AM

I can't watch the news today.

Or listen to the news today.

Or read, think about, or otherwise have any sort of involvement with the news today.

At least, not the American news. We all know what happened six months ago. And now, with such a scant distance, it is being carefully restructured into sentiment. There may as well be a parade.

Or should we try to be as gruesome as possible? To honor the dead? Which means, apparently, to bring their still sad relatives to speak to the media, to be as invasive as possible (and then some), or to share in-depth footage of their deaths. Or to pay millions in corporate dollars for advertising to say "We Remember [now Remember our brand]."

The structure of the news keeps slipping in recent months into the structure of the well-made play. Or not the structure per se, but the nature, the motive of it. Carefully executed to evoke maximum tears, but without the heartwarming end or the feather duster scene.

I will not have my emotions pulled and pushed by a tear-jerking action-packed adventure disguised as Truth. It comes too close to propaganda.

It also encourages Americans to be stuck on one event, one day, and keeps us from thinking about and challenging the actions our country/government has taken. This is how war is sold to civilians: look at all the tragic innocent deaths, but only look at ours; look at what they did, not what we are doing and will do and did, too. A life of one nationality is better than another. [Think: what would we say of someone who trapped and slaughtered hundreds of American soldiers?]

And to continue this unkind sentiment, to keep it fresh in our minds, we have a convenient monthly marker. We can count one month, three months, six. And in case we've started to wonder what Iraq has to do with all this, well, have another anniversary. How can you be against retribution for all that pain? How can you question?

I'm embarassed by a press that can't just do silence. That chooses to pimp emotionally brutal schlock rather than to simply accept that there's nothing appropriate to say, and the truth is best approximated in conjugation. Died. Are dying. Will die.

Silence is at least a temporary answer for a much too complicated world.

This is how I've found myself, accidentally, boycotting the media upon which I depend to feed me. To tell me (even if the message comes in sentiment-syrupy code) what is happening outside the narrow shell of my own life. I won't hear from any sources that beg to toy with my emotions.

Except, maybe, this:, a group we talked a lot about six months ago and have since learned to ignore. Their message is too complex, too lacking in retributive solutions for us to whore it the way we thought we could. And perhaps it would be too confusing to value lives that are other.

Tomorrow I may turn the radio back on.

Today, I'm listening to the silence.

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