Relationship between media and terrorism: a symbiosis? In biology, it is 'the relationship between two different living creatures that live close. While both case studies can be regarded as domestic U.S. The relationship between terrorism and the media is enjoy a symbiotic relationship” (). quite nonsensical, because pictures are not living organisms, he points out that they. The Symbiotic Relationship between Western Media and Terrorism Both statements received almost no coverage or reaction from the West.
As such, it is not surprising that iconic buildings and national monuments feature prominently, along with municipal water reservoirs, natural gas supply lines, electrical towers, power transfer stations, and nuclear reactors. But the same is true with a number of far more mundane though no less significant parts of the urban landscape: Perhaps even more so in video games than in the lifeworlds of film or TV, there are literally no spaces immune to conflict Young, In other words, all spaces are battlefields.
An attack may be prevented, repelled, or countered anywhere at any time. The terrorists and counter-terrorists are waging the perpetual war on all fronts.
Terrorists are the consummate objects of fear and hatred in 21st-century America. They have far surpassed their domestic or foreign predecessors from the previous century e. While the concept was originally conceived of in relation to the way the news media presented members of youth subcultures first British Mods and Rockers, but later American zoot-suiters, hippies, skinheads, goths, etc.
As the work of many scholars illustrate, folk devils are highly stylized images of despised and reviled groups of people. Indeed, if the Los Angeles terrorists of 24 — are any indication, the terrorist repertoire includes assassinations, car and train bombings, and chemical and radiological attacks. While by definition screen villains must be larger than life, these terrorist characters have reached levels approaching super-villainy.
- The Symbiotic Relationship between Western Media and Terrorism
Of course, this is not surprising given that their activities pose such an unprecedented threat, fully in keeping with the theme of exceptionalism.
However, the presentations vacillate wildly. While the presentation of terrorists as extraordinarily evil is quite consistent across media including the strictly nonfictional media, such as news coverage, documentaries, and some reality-based programming their competency and agency varies across and within forms. Designed to be frightening and reprehensible and always numerically significant not to mention ubiquitousterrorists are sometimes highly competent, exceptionally intelligent, and unrelentingly devious adversaries, while at other times they teeter on the brink of being subhuman caricatures—frenetic in their movement and barely intelligible in their guttural speech.
By the s the figure of the generic Arab as terrorist was firmly established in popular culture and featured prominently in a host of action, war, spy, and mystery-thriller films such as Chain of CommandIron Eaglethe Delta Force series —FranticNavy Sealsand True Lies Whilst both are designed as objects of fear and loathing, the non-traditional terrorists are afforded far greater agency than their racialized counterparts, particularly if they are of white European descent.
This is even true, though slightly less so, of those ambiguously coded as being of Balkan or Slavic origin. For example, we can look at two main terrorist characters from the Call of Duty Modern Warfare videogame series — as an interesting comparison.
Likewise, Anarchy 99, a terrorist group depicted in the film xXx and comprising former Russian soldiers and mercenaries, are politically calculating, highly organized, and prove to be quite a match for the agents of the US National Security Agency. On the rare occasions that members of white, non-eastern European ethnic groups are shown employing terroristic violence in popular culture presentations, they are typically scripted as instrumental, sometimes heroic or noble if perhaps slightly misguided —and almost never as terrorists.
Unlike so many of the settings for Jihadist or Communist or ex-Communist or neo-Nazi, etc. Instead, they are frequently set in the distant past, a parallel world, or a dystopian future and take the form of big-budget historical films, period pieces, or sci-fi action adventures—not terrorist films or even films about terrorism. There was also the The Hunger Games: Indeed, as was previously illustrated, it rarely even acknowledges it as violence.
Instead, it is presented as counter-terrorism—astutely preventative or righteously retributive. In other words, there are far more representations of terrorism among popular-culture products than ever before. Blacklistare disproportionately presented as undifferentiated Arabs. The presentation of them is largely absent any historical or geopolitical context. The unifying message is quite clear; these terrorists are unredeemable, barbaric savages, and their use of violence against innocent non-combatants is visceral and fueled by hatred.
Stark but telling is the example of the White Masks terrorist organization from the video game Rainbow 6 Siege Predictably, these popular culture narratives about terrorist threats to America emerging from nowhere carry considerable currency with an audience whose worldview is so insular that it appears to them as though social, political, and economic forces do not exist.
Violence and its consequences, while certainly a part of the human condition, is undeniably distasteful and ugly. Because violence, particularly large-scale violence such as that employed by the state in times of war, is so horrific that it is necessary to neutralize the revulsion that viewing it would typically elicit. While the suspension of disbelief on the part of viewers, players, and other audiences is a precondition of consuming fictionalized entertainment, consuming violence and more actively participating in it, the way one would in a video game requires more than this tacit agreement between popular culture producers and consumers.
Different genres require varying narratives to make violence not only palatable but enjoyable and something to be desired. The denial of counter-terrorism as violence occurs in a variety of interconnected ways. Chief among them is the presentation of counter-terrorist agents as forces for good. Like the hard-drinking, womanizing, violent cowboys or detectives, mercenaries, etc.
His shameful actions ranging from insubordination through to human rights abuses are not recognized as such in the lifeworld and certainly never punished. As heroes, their use of violence is not in fact violence but something else, such as justice. The broader and more prolonged the media coverage of terrorism turns out to be, the greater the terrorists' feelings of accomplishment, influence, and power.
As mentioned above, terrorists know all too well that the newsworthiness of their strikes is directly related to the site chosen, the number of casualties inflicted, and the type of act. Although these channels are proving useful for recruitment, the individuals who follow them tend to be already inclined to support the extremists' ideals and goals and do not trust the Western media in any case, which they see as the enemy.
Therefore, no matter how technologically savvy terrorists may become in the future, in order to reach a mass global audience it will always be crucial for them to obtain the mass coverage provided by global news channels.
Terrorism and Counter-terrorism in Popular Culture in the Post-9/11 Context
The amount, focus, and tone of news coverage of terrorism can help stir the kind of public outrage that influences governments' responses to attacks.
This is a long way off from the advice given by the British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, who is himself a target of religious extremism inthe Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his assassination for blasphemy: In his book Inside Terrorism, Bruce Hoffman pointed out that this coincided with a series of technological innovations that made it possible to send images cheaply and rapidly across great distances. Today the emergence of an array of new digital platforms has turned media competition into a fierce contest to capture people's shortening attention spans.
This has led to hyper-sensationalization in the way terrorist activity is reported, a tendency perhaps most apparent in television, still the general public's main source of information. TV has always had a love affair with drama and violence. The Easy Route of Sensationalism The ruthless nature of the news business can also be seen in the media coverage after the shocking first days of a terrorist attack.
Once the novelty of the strike wears off, news organizations race to be the first to broadcast or publish so-far undisclosed details of the police investigation.
To pick just two examples: Yet without the megaphone effect provided by the mass media, this information would not be so readily accessible to radical organizations and individuals planning to carry out lone-wolf assaults. Even when the media praises security forces' efforts to prevent carnage, it could be hinting to radicalized minds how not to repeat their peers' mistakes. Of course, public news networks are less driven by the latter but are equally dependent on the former.
It is this vying for audience attention that makes it more appropriate to perceive terrorists as being more like theatre producers than army generals. Media-wise, terrorists are able to elicit attention by orchestrating attacks with the media as a major consideration.
They select specific targets, locations and timing of their planned attacks deliberately and according to media preferences, trying to satisfy the media criteria for newsworthiness. The attacks introduced a new level of mass-mediated terrorism because of the choices the planners made with respect to method, target, timing and scope.
Terrorists also prepare visual aids for the media through means such as video clips of their actions, taped interviews and declarations, as well as press releases. Their penchant for using images is vividly exemplified by the recording of beheading videos.
Whereas these videos were previously filmed in dark rooms, produced to low-quality resolution, now such beheadings videos are filmed in the open and to a high standard of quality. The videos are slicker, utilising cinematic effects, e.
Social media has been criticised for creating echo chambers for vulnerable people who watch emotionally provocative videos. In fact, media-savvy organisations like Daesh have taken the theatre of terrorism to new heights. It is hard not to conclude that terrorism judged on its own terms- as a way of getting attention and arousing alarm- has been a success. This contradicts the evidence that proves that most terrorist movements fade away without attaining their strategic goals.
Media Frames a Distorted Threat Perception of Terrorism The symbiotic relationship between terrorism and media produces a particular perception of terrorism as an existential threat to the security of Western countries. The media plays a critical role in producing the illusion that terrorism is an existential threat to the security of Western countries.
There is a difference between security and existential threats. In many developing countries, the systematic effects of terrorism are real- e.
The existence of actors with the capacity for violence other than the state is always a threat to state legitimacy and, under certain conditions, can precipitate civil conflict. However, the current terrorism threat posed to Western countries represents a security threat, not an existential threat. It is because of the availability bias that perceptions of risk may be in error.
Second, it describes the hyper connectivity between people, places, and ideas. It also depoliticises the threat, making it seem random or evil. Consequently, terrorism becomes code word for mystery and uncontrollable threat.