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Something About the G-Rated War (By Kids) August 21, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in Uncategorized.

CBC Newsworld rebroadcast the documentary entitled Enemy Image last night and I was fortunate enough to catch it in its entirety. It is an account of U.S. military censorship laid down onto the media during times of war since Vietnam, with a brief discussion on what one might expect in the future. As many of you already know, the print and television journalists were allowed to present their unfiltered war stories and images to the general public with little government intervention. The horrors of war on display brought out large scale protests that helped end the quagmire that was Vietnam. The US government promised this degree of freedom will never again be granted to the media at large. Government sponsored media during the invasion of Grenada in 1983 displayed as peachy of a picture that they could and all was well until video was released by the only western journalist still on the island capturing the scenes the way they were actually unfolding. Still, the R-Rated images of Vietnam were prevented this time around and given a G-Rating by the government. As someone who was still a baby during this time, my interpretation is entirely based on historical writings and images I witnessed during my stay on the island earlier this year. Less than a decade later, the Gulf War arrived, and the censorship continued.

During this war, the mistakes of Grenada were adjusted in an attempt to keep the free world happy. The press was allowed into the country, but only in a severely restricted way. Press Pools were set up so that only a few correspondents were allowed in and had to share their stories and images. Those in the pools were required to follow the following rules:

  1. No reporters could visit any U.S. military unit or travel outside of Dhahran or Riyadh except in a press pool.
  2. No pool was permitted in the field without an escort, usually a U.S. military public-affairs officer (PAO).
  3. No interviews of U.S. military personnel were permitted without an escort present.
  4. All pool dispatches must first pass through the “military security review system.” (PAOs at ach pool location reviewed all dispatches and could delete or change any “military sensitive information.” Reporters could appeal any censorship to the military pool coordinating office in Dhahran and then to the Pentagon.)
  5. Violations of the above rules could result in arrest, detention, revocation of press credentials, and expulsion from the combat zone.

Since everyone had to share a limited amount of information, the idea of an exclusive story was thrown out the window. Truthiness ran rampant as the major US Networks tried to fill their news hour with stories of a war that was allowed to deliver so few. But unlike during the Grenada Invasion, I have memories of the first Gulf War. Memories from a far, but memories nonetheless.

Because of television, I remember night vision. There were coalition troops scurrying around at night with fancy, state of the art night vision goggles on. Thankfully the camera shooting the action was also equipped with such a marvel of technology so I, the viewer, could see the green glow of darkness. This was war to me. Little did I know that what I was seeing was just as staged and prepared as the episode of Tiny Toons I was surely waiting to watch that day. I didn’t see what a child growing up during Vietnam would have seen. I remember buying packs of Desert Storm trading cards and learning about the war (and which colors didn’t run) through them. Now I too knew what a Scud missile was and why they had to be stopped. MAD magazine made me realize why Saddam was really, “So-damn Insane”. What I saw was a filtered version of a war I couldn’t expect to understand in the form of flashing images and children’s propaganda. In retrospect, maybe it’s good that I saw the G-rated version of war. I was only 11 after all.

But the press pools weren’t set up to protect children from seeing too much too soon. They were in place to prevent the rest of the adult population from causing a commotion yet again. If the military felt that the means (fancy weapons) justified the ends (victory), then that’s all they need to show right. The dripping red of the dead and dying, the demoralized troops, and the true images of war were replaced; A target, a flag, and a number represented the new casualties of war. The car replaced the human driver and a weapons storage facility replaced its human population and as a result, war was G-rated not only to the children, but too all. I would be lying if I said that my memories of the Gulf War impacted my life as a whole. Theoretically, the false images and ideas became platforms to developing thoughts as I aged and therefore hindered my understanding of the way things actually are. But I would never dwell on this suggestion. But I am older now, and there is a new Gulf-War in progress. This time around the G-ratings do indeed frustrate me.

Further media limiting adjustments and rules have been established during this war to keep the public from seeing too much. The media is allowed to report what they see, providing the information is derived from military sources. The U.S. Department of Defense gives the following reasons, “We need to tell the factual story—good or bad—before others seed the media with disinformation and distortions, as they most certainly will continue to do. Our people in the field need to tell our story—only commanders can ensure the media get to the story alongside the troops.” So now we have stories of the heroism of Private Lynch. Who years after her capture and subsequent rescue said in an interview with Diane Sawyer, “They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong. I don’t know why they filmed [my rescue] or why they say these things” and “I did not shoot, not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees. And that’s the last I remember.” But that’s not the story people will remember. Her story has already been embedded into the psyche of a nation as one of sheer heroism. But the horrors of the new war do trickle out every so often. The world is too small and information spreads too quickly for it to be any other way. As long as the there remains the guise of freedom within the parties involved. It appears that the majority of us who aren’t subject to war in our backyards can now see things in a PG mindset. Away with the G rating and into the world of PG. It’s amazing how far we’ve really come.



1. AnferTuto - July 28, 2007

Hola faretaste

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