By Nick Lang
Watching American TV is a fascinating, and immensely infuriating experience, but it does explain a lot. Yanks get a pretty hard time from almost everyone around the world at the moment, mostly for simply being bloody stupid – I feel that this is unfair (except for the 52% odd that voted for Bush, they are just stupid).
Watch the news on Fox, NBC, CNN and even Sky news and you realise that what has become known as American stupidity is actually nothing of the sort, but simply the result of a process of mass brainwashing; they are not stupid, but stupefied. I remember watching the coverage of Hurricane Katrina (which had the Revelationists wetting themselves with excitement) every day until a full week after the event; which was a true tragedy. I don’t think I even need to say anything about Bush’s handling of the situation, or of the wonderful job his Arabian horse-rearing drinking buddy did for the ‘folks’ in trouble, but the way the media handled it was almost as painful to watch as the actual event itself:
“Coming up on today’s broadcast; images from New Orleans that will literally move you (dramatic pause) to tears.”
“We interviewed this man, whose house was completely destroyed. Watch now as he becomes so overwhelmed, that he just breaks down (dramatic pause) in front of your very eyes.”
"Here are the EXCLUSIVE, and let me repeat that, EXCLUSIVE images of Oprah inside what has become, and I never thought I’d say this folks, an American refugee camp. We had to turn the cameras off because she was too overwhelmed (dramatic pause) to carry on.”
These are just a few examples of the sorts of phrases that were being hurled at the American viewers; I think you get the idea. They couldn’t film anyone without zooming in on their tears, or at the very least explaining that as soon as the cameras had stopped rolling the person burst into tears. It felt as if there might as well have just been a constant running line of large, bold text at the bottom of the screen saying:
“Cry!!! Cry you bastards!!! Are you crying yet? Come on, cry!!! If you were a real American you would be sobbing like an injured child by now!!!”
For my mind though the best part was just before the advert break (after having just seen some genuinely harrowing images of the flooded city):
“[Subdued tone, and solemn face] My God, it really puts things into to perspective doesn’t it… Up next, is crazy wild-child Paris Hilton really having a baby?”
There is a reason why a terrifying number of Americans cannot point out Africa on a world map, think that Tony Blair is married to the Queen, and that we Brits really do drop absolutely everything that we’re doing at 3 o’clock for a spot of tea and a scone. It’s also, more importantly, the very same reason that they think that all Arab and Muslims are basically split into one of two groups: They either love the west, and want nothing more than to passionately embrace its sweet democracy with all their hearts, or they are an Islamic terrorist who just wants to behead Americans.
The irony is so great that it almost makes you sick to your stomach. How can a country that is so proud and passionate about freedom that they are willing to whole-heartedly support a war, causing young troops and innocent civilians to die in their thousands, saving some primitive desert-folk from a nasty totalitarian dictator, so that they too can bask in the kind of freedom that the happy Americans enjoy, be so blissfully unaware of just how dictated they themselves are? In a country where the news tells you how to feel, is freedom even possible?