I have completely given up watching the news on tv ever since September 11th. If I had continued to watch I would have ended up including here a boring daily entry citing the same things everyday. I'm even on the brink of giving up listening to BBC radio4's current affairs slot, 'PM'. Of any news gathering or information service, they used to be the only ones that seemed to take a more neutral, if slightly left-of-centre, stance. And their slightly left-of-centre position was often 'neutralised' by the news at 6 which directly follows.
Thinking about it, though, they do have a rocky track record in regards bigoted assumptions and blithe statements about groups like 'refugees' and 'illegal immigrants' which, in my pedantry, I have sometimes called to their attention.

While I was in Lanzarote I watched CNN, though, partly because I wanted to see what they had to say about the world but mostly because it was the only english-language television station we could receive. I know there is a subtlety of opinion across the diversity of people who live in America. I know. I have friends who live there. But the kind of stuff that CNN is spewing out portrays an America of uniformly jingoisitic, militant, war-mongering, world-hating, ignorant (and proudly ignorant!) people who would gladly bomb any nation with a GDP less than Iowa State. I wonder whether Osama bin Laden's advisors ever watch tv. I wonder how much of their plans are informed by the messages being sent out across the world from 'news' companies such as CNN.
Hatred and disinformation.
Do the people who write the news have any idea of the responsiblity they carry?

But this entry today is about an ad on tv. It's for a show which is about Mostar and Mostar Bridge (in the former-Yugoslavia). There is a montage of pictures about how beautiful the bridge used to be (it was v old - built in the 16th century) and people playing from it and then its current destroyed state. There is a voice over by a man with a Balkans accent, lamenting the destruction of the bridge. The ad concludes with the line, something along the lines of, 'and now the city is divided. With Croats on one side and Muslims on the other.' I assume it's a show about the impact of war on continuing to divide communities, or something like that... and I'm also guessing it takes the line that division is bad.
The thing that struck me though, was the way the voice over said Croats and Muslims. Us and them. Like Croats are nationals and Muslims are foreigners. A Muslim can not be a Croat. I heard that, beneath the conciliatory words in the voice over. It is still about us and them, even if you hate the war, even if you believe in peace and humanity.

That 'us and them' division is one thing in the context of the show, but as a snippet, repeated over and over in advertising, it also becomes more universal. Muslims are not nationals. They are foreigners. Suddenly it seems like a way that we can frame, or understand, Muslims here in Britain. Us and them.

<< | >>