Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the "War on Terror"

By Andrew Martin; Patrice Petro | Go to book overview

INTERMEDIA AND
THE WAR ON TERROR

JAMES CASTONGUAY

It is nearly impossible to miss the uncanny similarities between 1950s coldwar paranoia and the cultural anxieties surrounding the “war on terror.” The New York Times has commented on the “eerily similar” comparisons between the Bush and the McCarthy years,1 and President George W. Bush went so far as to invoke the ultimate cold war signifier of the mushroom cloud in his 7 October 2002 speech “outlining the Iraqi threat.”2 On the one hand, the capture of Saddam Hussein in Gulf War II, as Time magazine called it, provided the denouement for the Gulf War “miniseries” begun by George W. Bush's father.3 On the other hand, as the president announced the end of the “hot” war in Iraq by prematurely declaring “mission accomplished,” he also embarked on an open-ended narrative to prepare the U.S. public for a seemingly endless “war on terrorism.”

As I have argued elsewhere, during the 1991 Gulf War, most media scholars analyzed TV news and ignored fictional programming, thus implicitly accepting the generic hierarchies that the television industry both assumes and constructs.4 In the ongoing Gulf War, although the overwhelming focus has been on news programming and traditional print journalism, some media scholars have begun to analyze nonnews programming while also integrating the Internet into their analyses of the war on terrorism. Nevertheless, a major blind spot in media studies scholarship remains the near neglect of radio, which has been almost completely ignored relative to these other media. This is problematic in light of the widespread use of radio by U.S. and global publics, and in the context of what I call the “convergent intermediality” of our entertainment industries and media culture.5

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