Media Circus: Lest We Forget edition

The enduring lesson I learnt about ANZAC Day from the family members who served in either/both World Wars (and later conflicts) is that political incompetence costs lives, and that the sacrifices made by the dead are best honoured by the rest of us keeping a really close eye on what our political class is purporting to do on our behalf. I wish our mainstream media understood this ongoing need for vigilance better right now, instead of the numbing hours of coverage of the minutiae of a commemoration ceremony that is focussed more on a big round number than on the failures of politicians then and now.

What’s piqued your media interests lately?

As usual for media circus threads, please share your bouquets and brickbats for particular items in the mass media, or highlight cogent analysis elsewhere, on any current sociopolitical issue (the theme of each edition is merely for discussion-starter purposes – all current news items are on topic!).

Categories: ethics & philosophy, history, media, Politics, Sociology

Tags: , ,

12 replies

  1. Timely article! ‘Gallipoli fatigue’ causes poor ratings for WWI TV shows as war weary Australians switch off :

    “I think we are seeing a sense that people see another ad for yet another documentary focussing on Gallipoli or another advertising campaign that’s focusing in some way on the diggers and there’s a kind of collective groan that people are letting out,” Professor Wright said.

    “I think that’s where we’re seeing a sense of ennui, almost a kind of nausea in a way where everybody is just over it. I don’t think it’s that there is a sense that they want to show disrespect towards the soldiers or the memory of the Anzacs but the way that that is being exploited presently.”

    • Home and Away is doing a special on it. It has come to this. I know about it because Ch7 overruns H&A when I want to watch MKR.

  2. Okay, I was never really a fan of ANZAC day since I was in primary school (I couldn’t see the point of the assemblies full of jingoism) and learning about what World War 1 involved really put the kibosh on any possible enjoyment of it by high school age (by that point, my reaction to the jingoistic speeches was incoherent rage; not helped by actually having to attend the formal ANZAC parade in Perth one year as part of the school choir, and being in the front row I had to simulate looking interested the whole time). Quite honestly, though, this year’s “it’s been so long since we celebrated an invasion” stuff is really raising the hackles (I mean, it’s been 27 years since 1988) and the commercialisation of the whole mess is just… well…

    I’ve never been gladder my maternal grandfather was a conscientious objector in World War 2, and that my paternal grandfather[1] was working the gold mines in Kalgoorlie. Neither of them served, so I don’t have the connection to the whole mess. I can walk away from it, turn my back on it, and still be true to their memories.

    [1] Said paternal grandfather was apparently old enough to have run away to join the regiments as a drummer boy in World War 1. Which to me says more about the negative quality of his home life than anything positive about the war.

    • So good to see someone else with a similar opinion on ANZAC day in primary schools in print…

      Being autistic, whenever the minute of silence was called to remember the fallen, I actively tried to “remember” – we’re pretty literal folk, autistics – and I failed because I’d never even met a digger from WWI (or even the newer wars such as Vietnam). It only took two years of that before I started wondering if ANZAC day was pointless (or if, maybe, the fault was me).

      It’s not really something kids in the earlier grades of primary school are going to understand. I get the adult’s need to instil respect for the day, the fallen, the culture… but it seems like they’re trying to teach advanced physics before the kids can add, metaphorically. And, thereby, stories like yours and mine keep coming out of the woodwork; kids don’t care because they’ve been hounded about it for so long until they learn to pretend, and then often drop the pretence when they’re out of the way of the hounds.

      • I think in my case it was less about literalism and more about the perception (helped along generously by my age peers) that ANZAC day was “meant” for people who had lost family members to military service. The kids who seemed most interested in it were the ones who could bring along Dad or Grandad’s medals and tell something about their military ancestor in News. My dad had been too young for Korea, and was too old by the time Vietnam rocked around (he turned 30 about two weeks after I was born in 1971), and see above regarding grandparents. So it was never one of “my” holidays in the first place. I mean, yeah, the story of Simpson and his donkey was interesting enough… the first time I learned it, in year 2. The repeats of the same story in years 3, 4, 5, and 6 just left me bored.

        Learning about the events of WW1 just put the tin lid on my disgust with the “glorification of military service” side of things.

  3. Tomorrow is when the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide is commemorated. The Armenian community in Australia has a webpage about the commemoration. Eight years ago, Robert Manne wrote an article for The Monthly about the connections between the Dardenelles campaign and the Armenian genocide that I think is worth re-reading.

    • Yes, I was thinking about that today as well, given that once again Obama has declined to use the specific word “genocide” with respect to a discussion of this anniversary.

  4. Ugh, John Key, what a creep.

  5. Dulce Et Decorum Est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.-
    Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams before my helpless sight
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
    Bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Wilfred Owen

  6. The General

    ‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said
    When we met him last week on our way to the line.
    Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
    And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
    ‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
    As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

    . . . .
    But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

    Siegfried Sassoon

  7. Some bloke they interviewed on the news tonight seemed to think that women only worked on farms when the men went to war. I think a few generations of women in my family would have been surprised to hear that.

    • I’m reasonably certain quite a few generations of my ancestors would be equally startled to hear it, too. As would the vast number of women living on farming properties in the present day.

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