Just Another Reality Show

Just Another Reality Show

Just Another Reality Show
An email conversation about the news of the day.
July 17 2002 10:41 AM


Good morning, Peter,


Your story about CNN is terrific and telling and makes me scratch my head as to why you're not more cynical about what the networks are planning in their commemoration of 9/11. Twenty years ago a great movie, Paddy Chayefsky's Network, satirized American television brilliantly. Well, since that movie came out, we've gone far beyond Network—we've got people stuffing their faces with raw pig intestines for cash prizes, movie stars (who clearly don't need the money) sticking their heads in boxes filled with worms, and network and cable news competing for who can wring the last drop of saccharine emotion from any given news story. How can the 9/11 coverage be anything but exploitative? Years ago another movie, The Magic Christian, satirized the West's obsession with money and greed. In the last scene, a swimming pool was filled with excrement, vomit, and money. Peter Sellers and Ringo Star, the movie's stars, watched on the sidelines as people waded in to retrieve the cash. It was shocking then. Today, it would be just another reality show.

I see in the papers this morning that the IRA has apologized for its brutality during its 30-year effort to unite Ireland. Wasn't long ago that the IRA was, in many people's eyes, the equivalent of Hamas. I'm stepping into it here, but I find it interesting to note that terrorist organizations, from the Algerian independence movement to the ANC in South Africa under apartheid to the IRA, tend to stop terrorizing when their legitimate demands—i.e., demands that most of the world recognize as legitimate—are met. Most moderates in Israel would agree that the creation of a Palestinian state is a legitimate demand and that, in the end, Israel will retreat to some border formulation based on the '67 borders and will have to dismantle most of the settlements if peace is ever to be achieved. Until Israel begins to move in that direction, I fear we'll only see more horrific bus bombings (like yesterday's) and suicide bombings. What do you think?