Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Agree With What He Said, But Not What He Means

First the quote, then the context. Sut Jhally:
"Fear has been used to paralyze people's intellects," said Jhally. "If they can scare people, almost anything becomes possible. When people are afraid their brains shut off and it makes you confused and want easy solutions."
Here is the context. Sut Jhally is speaking about 24, a show that he dislikes terribly.
As ABC phrases it, he "believes Hollywood's fascination with terrorism can have serious political consequences."
Sut Jhally, co-producer and co-director of the film "Hijacking Catastrophe," says the dramatic action in the show creates a dangerous climate in which the public loses some of its perspective on what's real and what's not. Of course that may be a minority opinion given the show's enormous popularity.
Oddly, Sut did not really have much to say about films like "The Day After Tomorrow."

I do agree with the first quote I gave here, though. I do think that fear has been used to paralyze people's intellects, and that when one is afraid, one does tend to not think clearly and tends to look for easy solutions. That is exactly on what terrorists count.

This is why despite agreeing with the words, I disagree completely with Jhally's meaning. He thinks the problem is shows depicting terrorism. I think the problem is with terrorism. I agree that fear is a paralyzing influence. I think that shows that get us talking about the issues are very much a constructive influence. They get us to think about things in the abstract, before we are put in a position of real terror where our ability to think is compromised. "The Day After Tomorrow" is a positive influence because it gets people to think about the issues and start the debates we need to have. "24" is the same way.

By the way, I wonder why ABC did not give the full title to Jhally's movie. It is not just "Hijacking Catastrophe." It is "Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire." That extra bit of information certainly would be useful to readers in evaluating from where Mr. Jhally is coming, don't you think? Regardless, Mr. Jhally does not seem to be shy about using scare tactics to get people to fear the big, bad Bush administration.

No comments: