In 2006 David Milch (Creator of Deadwood, NYPD blue) gave a talk at the MIT Great Writers series. His take on war as a media spectacle of the powers that be is very illuminating. Especially, since in the last 13 years nothing has changed. Quite the opposite, the spectacle is now raging on social media and has turned the once passive consumers into active conspirators. Which only proves that posting, commenting, sharing of tweets and soundbites serves no other purpose than keeping the majority of the public occupied to refrain from critical thinking. MiC

Transcribed from the video:

“I think the war in Iraq has ever so much more to do with the media’s abdication of its moral responsibilities than with the deficiencies of our president. The media has infantilized the expectations of the audience, because of the lack of some sort of trancendent informing vision. The surrogate existence provided by television has come to supplant the genuine emotional life of the populace.

“I believe therefore that the reason that I have chosen not to do anymore contemporary drama is because the assault on the collective sensibility of 9/11 was such to give the audience so much fear that the only way that could be placated was with a television series, a mini-series which would be finished in three weeks, and which would tell them that: you do not have to fear danger here, because we are going to take the war over there.

The rationale for that war had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with the habituation of the viewing public to the shaping of human experience in distorted forms, for which the media is responsible.

“So that the first three weeks of the Iraq-miniseries was received enormous public approval, because it was the series that we wanted to see. And it was the triumph of America weaponry, and it had a beginning, a middle and an end. The disaffection with the Iraq war has nothing to do with what is going on with the Iraqi people and everything to do with the fact that that series is over, we don’t want to see that series anymore.

We wanted to be narcotized in our reaction to the assault on the world trade center. We got what we were looking for.

“Don’t be bothering us anymore with the god damn roadside bombs. Bring the boys home. Well the boys were never gonna come home after three weeks. War isn’t like that.

It was a war undertaken for the wrong reasons, and responded to for reasons the public has absolutely no conception about.

It is a different drama enacting itself in our country right now, and it has to do with a to acknowledge the necessary moral and imaginative predicate in what has become an entirely virtual existence. People spend more than half their waking hours watching television. That has to shape the neural pathways. It creates an impatience for example with irresolution.

(N.B. The only question remaining: How much and how fast does the smartphone change the neural pathways of the young generation? MiC)



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