Friday, October 29, 2010

The unintended audience still watches

When the movie Bowling for Columbine came out, I was living in London. As my friends there would watch it, they would start to ask me questions. Did I carry a gun back home? How was I not afraid to leave my house? At least a knife, right? You know, for protection. Little did they know that I don’t know hardly anyone who owns a gun. Maybe a couple people in Maine. Then I saw the movie. It was completely obvious to me that this was a film made for US audiences to learn something about their own culture, but people abroad could not know that this it was not everyday life for Americans.

In “The symbolic power of transnational media,” Chouliaraki is making the case for how transnational news affects its particular audience by the way they frame the news. We are either distanced from far away panoramic suffering or brought to sympathize with close personal accounts. The first story is about “them” and the second is about “us”, and the bias is the “hierarchy of domestic relevance”. My question is, what happens when a story is not viewed by the intended audience but by someone else? While close us suffering on 9/11 made some sympathize, it made others rejoice. While a distant Iraq war made us feel farther away, it enraged others. A story about one crazy guy with a forty person following who wants to burn a Koran will reach an unintended audience, and it is no longer a sensational story that we all here know does not represent reality, but others perceive as typically American.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that there is no such thing as global news. And I only mean that in the sense that there is no “global” audience.

Thinking back to Chouliaraki, it seems that the distant panoramic “spectacle to watch rather than…as a political act to take sides on” is a much safer bet for “global news” (338). If more personal news is meant to incite, you can bet that you will incite your unintended, audience too, and that seems to only serve to perpetuate conflict.

No comments:

Post a Comment