Re: Dead body fetishism?

John Cole. (jrc@TEI.UMASS.EDU)
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 01:56:59 -0400

To all of the commenters re: my original post, thanks--but I WOULD like to
clarify one thing. I did not mean to say that recovering the dead and other
rituals were new, as such--merely that they seem to me to have gone to new
extremes in recent times in Western culture; it was the genesis of that
exaggeration which intrigued me. Tarzia may have reflected my own ideas best
about what I see as not QUITE the same old traditions.... I'd add that the
media frenzy is fairly new as a paddle stirring the cauldron. There is some
analogy to the trend in TV news to concentrate on photo ops for crimes,
explosions, etc.instead of issues, I think. Causes of crime, un-photographical
white collar crime, malfeasance of politicos not involving clear sex and money
angles...etc. don't get much coverage, and the public seems to be conditioned
to demand instant gratification--all or nothing. Even whistle-blower exposes
focus on $500 hammers, not the nature of govt/corporate interaction, for

Why is Al D'Amato a featured player in this plane crash, for example? Or any
other politician, unless they are being exposed for promoting unsafe FAA
policies? Are they not simply vultures looking for free TV time--which TV
networks excitedly offer them? (A small case can be made for a President as
"national chaplain," I suppose, but that strikes me as a fairly minor detail
compared with the saturation news coverage.)

I submit that there is political obfuscation and grandstanding and
trivialization going on--wholesale promotion of "false consciousness" about
real issues.

Meanwhile, I'm still amazed but not surprized at the news media's promotion of
"human interest" angles at the expense of other approaches; it plays up and
into the myth of individualism, I think, at the expense of analyses of bigger
or deeper issues.

Even Olympics news coverage insistently plays up the "human dramas of
individuals" rather than showing the competitions. That a swimmer, say, had a
brother die in a car wreck 5 years ago is explained in detail, but the rules
of the 100M freestyle don't even get a mention! (Pardon the leap, but to me
there is some continuity between my threads (shreds?) of thought....)

--John R. Cole