Re: [xmca] Less Mediated and More Mediated Media

From: <laires who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jun 04 2008 - 02:11:02 PDT

Hi, David
Thanks for your message. It's amazing to beginning our working day with
critical voices about our social mediated life.

Luísa Aires
Universidade Aberta (Portugal)

> 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
> Lian&nbsp;wrote:
> &nbsp;
> After all, 1989 was a very ordinary year.
> &nbsp;
> 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."
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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 PLA.
> &nbsp;
> 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
> irony.
> &nbsp;
> 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.)
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> 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.
> &nbsp;
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Wed Jun 4 02:23 PDT 2008

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