Saturday, 12 March 2011

Natural Disaster

Automobiles caught up in the March 2011 Japanese tsunami are flung about like empty crisp packets on a high wind
Natural disasters do not wait for TV cameras. Like a child or animal Hamlet they clear their lungs and begin their grand soliloquies "with feeling" in one profound, unique take, often when the crew is still asleep.

Once the cameras start rolling, however, affected voyeurs shed tears, as if at a movie. As arresting as the images are, we've seen them all before on the big screen. We are desensitised to violence and destruction, and almost revel in the live action. "The BBC has an incredible video..." Only in the real light of day can such disasters profoundly affect us. Twenty-four-hour TV coverage and analysis of such events is the armchair version of crowds gathering in the immediate aftermath of a car crash, hoping for a glimpse of a severed arm, broken leg or charred face. We condescend to appraise others' pity, knowing we can do nothing to help, as if watching every move is somehow to "be there" for an old friend.

We want an apocalypse, for the spectacle of it, and it will be televised.

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