Keeping the Rabble in Line

Banging on about representation: The would be media lens

Friday, December 23, 2005

More Imagery

As a brief follow up to the post below, how can we read the following images. Here on the right, we have the very obvious "returning hero" imagery in all its glory. I do not know the persons represented, nor is it important, they are merely emblematic in this instance. I'm sure they/he is a fine human being. The point is, that these images are common place in news media. The stars and stripes backdrop serves its patriotic duty [as does the soldier] in this image. The soldier himself is made instantly human, loving, vulnerable, protective, patriotic and heroic. A tearful return as befits the hero.There are similar images of the departing troops, waving a tearful goodbye to their loved ones as they head off bravely to battle the "enemy". Television news footage is replete with the emotional upheaval experienced by those left behind. As the troops head off, the verbal narrative provided by the voiceover is often bordering on tearful. "Our Brave Boys" et al

The enemy of course is never given the same representational opportunities. A humanised version of -- for instance -- Iraqi soldiers is absent from the narrative. The visual signifiers of the "Other" are more often than not demonic, irrational, mad, raging and incapable of reason and/or reasonable response. The image on the left certainly demonstrates this point to some extent. Now I know this stuff happens, but the editing decisions and the narrative it creates is not accidental, nor is it "fair and balanced" These editing decisions are just some of the techniques that provide and perpetuate the narrative of the Rational, honest western agents versus the irrational, distrusful Other from the "East". Quite often these images are "cut against" one another. Add to the mix the laughable musical score from Panorama and the voiceover, then it should soon become clear just how insistent the western narrative is...and how it drowns out, almost to the point of silence, the voice of the other.


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