New media, politics and society- Second edition
Chapter 3 War Games
We have been experiencing, for half a century, a conf lation of material his- tory and its electronic mediation, and this phenomenon is perhaps at its most remarkable in the conduct and representation of military conf lict. Jean Baudrillard (1988: 49) wrote of Vietnam as a television war – but Vietnam also of course eventually became a cinematic war, a war primar- ily recalled in the popular imagination by such films as The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. Another postmodern conf lict, Operation Restore Hope, America’s vain attempt to bring order to Somalia in 1992–93, also began as an event staged for the TV cameras (even to the extent that the Pentagon are said to have consulted CNN on the scheduling of the U.S. landings in Mogadishu), and ended up as a film by Ridley Scott: a five-month military debacle immortalized as Black Hawk Down (2001). The BBC’s World Af fairs Editor John Simpson’s declaration of his personal liberation of Kabul in November 2001 and Donald Rumsfeld’s announcement in February 2006 that newsrooms had become crucial battlefields in the War on Terror are two well-known examples of the convergence of media and military perspectives. As Baudrillard (2005: 77) wrote, ‘media and images are part of the Integral Reality of war.’ Ronald Reagan’s abortive Star Wars programme stands as a landmark moment in this process, and that Hollywood President’s Tinseltown apocalypse was to be echoed in George W. Bush’s cowboy diplomacy and in his adminis- tration’s use...
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