of the many great ironies of the 9/11 attacks is that the terrorists created
a reality show beyond all of Hollywoods wildest imagination!
In my fifteen years working in television, producing reality
programs and documentaries for PBS, NBC News, Discovery Networks and others,
it has always been about eyeballs. The number of eyeballs
watching your show determines the level of its success.
The perpetrators of the September 11th terrorist attacks proved themselves
to be more than capable television programmers. Their sinister brilliance
is easily measured by the size of the global television audience watching
their reality show of reality shows. After all, at the time,
no one could have imagined any program spanking Survivor Africa
in the ratings game, especially by one allegedly produced from a cave
in Afghanistan! With the attacks, never before have so many eyeballs
been transfixed by the same frightening imagery, intense realism and human
drama. Apocalypse Live in your living room! You could almost
smell it! Hollywood, with all of its billions, technical wizardry and
shameless marketing and audience manipulation techniques, has clearly
been outdone once and for all.
double strike on the twin towers assured all eyes would be locked on target
and the maximum number of people world-wide would witness, in real time,
the mass devastation. The effectiveness of the terrorist message transmission
has been immeasurable. I believe this component to their strategy has
been understated and overlooked we were attacked at the core of
our collective nervous system, television. Three thousand dead and 16
acres of wasted real estate is nothing compared to the psychological impact
of having terror instantaneously delivered to hundreds of millions of
people. It was the ultimate pirate broadcast. The resulting
pandemic psychosis has been far more devastating and long lasting than
the melting steel and vaporized concrete that was the WTC. And you can
bet that this strategy of compelling the western world to watch its own
destruction, will be employed in the next round of attacks.
Todays controversy over the fact that G men and women
are welcomed with open arms and wallets by Hollywood, influencing content
in our media systems supporting militarism and nationalistic themes seems
irrelevant and pathetic. The people who will make a difference in the
aftermath of this mounting global catastrophe, have by now, all turned
off their televisions. The propaganda war has already been lost as Bush,
Blair and Sharon find themselves leading increasingly divided citizenry,
standing alone against the world and at war with Islam. If only Shakespeare
was still around to commit this tragedy to verse!