Orwell 2.0

Every time I broke my arm as a kid, I started noticing people in casts everywhere. I’ve been mulling over a paper presentation about consumerism in my field, and I am having a similar experience. Suddenly, everywhere I look there’s an article suggesting something about new communication technologies, good or bad.

Most recently it’s a Slate piece called, “War is Gaga.” It’s written, in typical bourgeois journalistic style, from the point of view of “our troops.” The point, in other words, is that these “ridiculous dance routines on the Internet” (as the subtitle notes) are a way for soldiers to blow off steam. No doubt.

There’s a brief nod to the creepier side of some of these videos (not much on the racism or xenophobia) and an acknowledgment that these videos are a profoundly denatured view of war. It’s imperialism as sketch comedy. The piece also notes that the military, which once resisted web 2.0, has now embraced it.

It’s hard to imagine a better way for the military to naturalize war and to help focus our concerns on “our soldiers” rather than on the policy that put them in danger. It has to be one of the most direct propaganda channels– straight to the hearts and minds– ever created. There’s no putting this genie back, either.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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