Too much warningography | News
There is something deeply disturbing about the way this war between Ukraine and Russia is presented and presented to the whole world, but especially to the American people. Old enough as I am to remember our second Gulf War adventure, I remember even then when the corporate media added a bit more sex appeal to their coverage of the war, with big banners drama and text and special effects, with embedded reporters riding around in convoys, sometimes dying but mostly just showing thrilling brief clips of gunfire and explosions.
All of this, of course, has been heavily sanitized. I’m not old enough to remember Vietnam, but I know it was the war America could watch from home. The difference was that when America saw this war, unfiltered and largely uncensored, it reacted with disgust, horror and condemnation. They wanted us out, they wanted the war to end. We weren’t winning, we were just killing – and being killed. Anti-war sentiment reached such a fever pitch that, as news of the atrocities committed by American soldiers filtered through the population, anti-war activists turned their rhetoric and anger on the soldiers themselves, blaming them for all cruel labels for the crime of having forced by conscription to wage a war that they did not start, that they did not want.
The methods haven’t changed much today, but the sentiment has surely changed. Now the Ukrainian war is on all the channels. Social media feeds magically contain pithy memes and sound bites, images of Ukrainian leaders in military gear, images of the “ghost of Kiev”, stories of its heroic destruction of evil Russians, stories of brave soldiers and isolated on lonely island outposts defiantly insulting Russian warships and then dying for it.
The only problem is that every single one of those examples I’ve given you is wrong.
Zelensky is fighting – he’s the president of Ukraine – and he’s doing a damn good job as a wartime leader. Yet people here at home, massing Ukrainian flags in their profiles, sharing memes, calling him a hero, saying ‘we’ must go fight Putin, saying ‘we’ must unite in defense of freedom and democracy , they continue with an odious candor that is increasingly disturbing to see.
On the one hand, I can’t help but notice that the same people who cheered when the Canadian government beat and robbed peaceful protesters in Ottawa are now suddenly passionate advocates of “democracy and freedom” when this is a war they are in no danger of. I can’t help noticing that suddenly all the television channels are pushing for war, war, war – as if we hadn’t just abandoned an entire fleet of military vehicles to the Taliban, as if we hadn’t screwed up one of the most embarrassing withdrawals in military history.
There’s an underlying hypocrisy here, and commenting on it immediately qualifies you as a ‘Putin lover’ or a ‘Russian asset’, much like how any comment against the rollout of COVID vaccines made you an anti -vaxxer, or how any remark about how lockdowns are economically harmful made you a “grandma killer”. For an ostensibly free people, we seem quite willing to memorize a script and slavishly stick to it, whether that makes us hypocrites or not.
Here is the reality, in a few weeks this case will be over, one way or another, and we will immediately move on to something else, the forgotten war, as we forgot Afghanistan. The media will move en masse and a large part of the population with them. Memes and social media posts, reflections and soundbites will all fall in line with the next crisis, probably something about climate change or, better yet, a war in Asia.
War has become just another medium that the masses consume, and they treat it like team sports. Are you Team Ukraine or Team Putin? Did you see the plot twist in the last episode? Isn’t Zelensky a dreamer? Look at these beautiful Ukrainian women carrying guns! Look at these EU countries banning Russia from the banking system, PLEASE RETWEET IF YOU AGREE!
It’s ceased to be news, and it’s almost too evil to be entertainment. It’s war pornography – warningography, if you will. Look at the rubble! Look at the dead! Listen to the gunshots! Oh, that footage is from three years ago, oh that footage is from a video game, but hey, look! We must sanction Russia, we must fight Russia, “we” “must” “resist”.
Meanwhile, the Western world is spending billions of dollars on Russian oil and gas. The United States has not stopped buying. Germany continues to import oil and energy from Russia. The government assures us that this is to minimize the impact on the consumer, as if energy prices were not already skyrocketing. In fact, some “news” outlets claim inflation and high gas prices have always been because of the situation in Ukraine.
We have always been at war with Oceania.
This perverse voyeurism is the symptom of a growing cancer, which has begun to metastasize. So many people suddenly care about war, safe in the knowledge that their demand for action will not be met by their own flesh and blood. What now comes from Russia is America’s wages of sin, and despite all the blame on Putin, it’s impressive that no media bothers to remind anyone that the United States literally drove the Ukrainian government out of power in 2014 and not a single one of those experts thought it was a problem, if they even knew it was happening.
Maybe because it wasn’t sexy enough. It’s easier to undermine democracy if you make it so boring that no one cares to log you on. Well, don’t let me stop you from consuming your warnography – enjoying the thrill of death from the safety of the toilet seat.