RE: [xmca] Less Mediated and More Mediated Media

From: Monica Hansen <monica.hansen who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jun 03 2008 - 20:15:31 PDT

It was not an ordinary year for me. I graduated from high school that week
and went to Europe. I watched the news in Spain, Italy, France and England.
I was very conscious of different media portrayals and of becoming an adult
in a world where such things were happening. Very conscientious of my
freedoms and privilege in contrast to those who would not have them.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 7:43 PM
To: xmca
Subject: [xmca] Less Mediated and More Mediated Media

Today is June 4th, an important day for anybody who lived in China during
the year 1989. About&nbsp;two years later,&nbsp;the poet Yang
After all, 1989 was a very ordinary year.
When I told him that it didn't seem like a very ordinary year to me in
retrospect, he said: "That only shows that you did not die in it."
Yet there is something quite extraordinary&nbsp;when the news appears
without newscasters, and then it appears with newscasters and you can hear
gunfire in the background, and the next week the newscasters show up dressed
entirely in black and refuse to look at the camera.
Nor is it ordinary when they are replaced by new newscasters the next week,
and these newscasters dress ENTIRELY in white and look ostentatiously and
unblinkingly at the camera with a relentless gaze that somehow also
suggested that something other than the dictionary meanings of the words is
being suggested.
All that happened nineteen years ago, but people outside China never heard
about it. I&nbsp;guess for most people outside China the events of that year
were mediated not by words but by some video footage shot from a window of
the Beijing Hotel, showing a man with a shopping bag and a raincoat stopping
a column of tanks and eventually getting up on one of them to talk to the
tank driver.
This footage WAS actually shown&nbsp;at least twice in China. When I saw it,
I remember the&nbsp;voice-over excitedly describing how the savagery of the
rioters was such that they cast themselves bodily against the tanks of the
No trace of sarcasm could be detected in the voice-over, which is, I
suppose, how it got broadcast. But I don't think anybody who actually saw
the footage (as opposed to merely listening to it) could have missed the
It was exactly the same tone of voice my student used when she was asked to
"correctly identify the nature of the counter-revolutionary turmoil in
Beijing". She said excitedly, and without a trace of a smile,
"counter-revolutionary turmoil is turmoil that is counter-revolutionary,
la!". (This was in Guangzhou; the Cantonese use "la" with everything.)
I heard later that the footage was shown again, and this time the voice-over
described how the behavior of the tank driver gave the lie to Western
reports of civilians being run over by tanks and gunned down in the streets
of Beijing. I didn't hear it, though, so I can't say anything about the
intonation of the voice-over&nbsp;or what the overall effect was.
The media is, of course, always heavily&nbsp;mediated. What is not at all
ordinary is&nbsp;when we are made so very conscious of that mediation; it's
extraordinary because when we become conscious of mediation we start
thinking about what a less mediated reality might be like.
The problem with living outside China is not that the news does not come
mediated; it's that people are so much less conscious of that mediation;
it's so much harder to start thinking about what that less heavily mediated
reality might be.
For example, in March there were race-riots in Lhasa, and many of the
buildings near the Jokang where&nbsp;Chinese friends of mine lived were
burned.&nbsp;CNN broadcast footage of the riots which showed the police, but
meticulously cropped the violent demonstrators beating up and killing
elderly&nbsp;Chinese and burning Muslim&nbsp;shopkeepers and their
children&nbsp;alive in their stores.
A Chinese CNN would have handled this very differently. The rioters would
have been clearly visible, and the voice-over would have commented that in
their ferocity the racist mob apparently did not realize that some of the
Chinese they were trying to murder were in uniform.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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