Sunday, 8 July 2007

Everything Changes But You...

What makes a moment a life-changing moment?

It’s hard to live through a time and not see how important that moment is. To hear ones parents talk about where they were when JFK was shot, when man landed on the moon, these things – both American, which says a lot about the British frame of mind about how important we are! – seem, even now, one generation removed, momentous.

Do my nephews see these things, removed twice, in the same way? Probably not. Originally made unreal by the process of being shown on television – a simulacrum of reality – at least my generation has the heralding of the space shuttle to feel connected to (again, only through – for this writer – the simulacrum of television), or even the assassination attempts on Pope and President.

The news seemed to mean something back then – terrible events write large in their horror, even when removed by sitting before us through media. Slavoj Zizek talks of the removal of reality by presenting it in glorious unreality, the processes of fighting wars with human removal – how stark the images of Vietnam must have seen. He even suggests that Hollywood had well prepared the world for the barbarism of the WTC tragedy in 2001 – what he terms the final act of the 20th Century.

Hollywood writers had been brought in by the government to talk about the possibility of terrible terrorist events that could be expected before the event. The X-Files spin-off series, The Lone Gunmen, even featured an episode that saw a remote piloted plane aimed at the Twin Towers, which was shown 6 months before September 11th.

Does film desensitise us to the horror of the world, or comment upon it? The sudden swell of box-office successes of what are being termed ‘torture-porn’ genre films. Are we more accepting of such imagery as entertainment because the news tells us about the torture of prisoners of war? Or are we less concerned about such events in the real world because film has prepared us for it?

Perhaps this is taking a darker tone than intended. We are in the here and now, living as we move through these moments – separated from the world by an idea of what it is, but connected fully to it. Life changes every moment of every day.

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