Tsunamis shatter celeb holidays

by Andy Polaine on January 1, 2005

Following up from the previous post about Channel Ten’s reporting, CNN get a bit of Tsunami entertainment news out with their Tsunamis shatter celebrity holidays story. Tragic. This quote from skier Ingemar Stenmark is particularly profound:

“The water from the first wave disappeared, but then it came back with terrifying speed”

Thanks to Matthew Linderman for the link.

1 Bethan January 4, 2005 at 10:32 am

From your attitude I as expecting a trivial story about a B-grade celebrity having to tragically reschedule their New Year’s beach holiday to Bali. However, that article is reporting deaths, including that of a 14 year old girl named Lucy. Your sarcastic comment “Tragic.” is insenstive and just as appalling as a bad ‘wave’ pun from Channel Ten. Worse, even. True, making trauma into an ‘entertainment’ piece is perverse, but that article does something that a statistic can not. It gives us a name and a face and a family just like our own that is suffering. 155 000+ people is tragic beyond comprehension. So tragic that I cannot even begin to understand it. Finding out that Richard Attenborough has just found the body of his teenage grand-daughter means something different.

Why do the news bulletins report the comparitively tiny number of Australians dead (13 at present) when there are 155 000 other victims? Because it gives us something to relate to. It breaks down the disaster into a tiny understandable piece. News and current affairs programs don’t just give us statistics either. They send Ray Martin over to visit hospitals and show us orphaned 2 year olds; they show us grieving fathers who have lost their entire families; they show us the one man left in the village who is still searching for his wife and they have a translator telling us what he is wailing.

That article is just translating the disaster into a comprehensible chunk for those people living on the other side of the world who have never been to the region, who don’t know anyone from there, who live in the suburbs. It is very easy to think that something is ‘too big.’ It is very easy to forget that the rows or corspes were once people when the TV footage shows people holding cloth over their noses.

Giving people a familiar face and name to relate to is far better than allowing an ignorant ‘Oh, that’s terrible, but so far away from me’ sweep the tragedy away.

2 apolaine January 6, 2005 at 8:56 am

Bethan, of course you’re right about making it personal and I do have closer, more personal experiences of near misses and places I know there that have been affected. However, I still question the use of celebs to make it more personal. It was tragic to hear about Richard Attenborough lost his grand-daughter, but is that any more personal or tragic that complete villages being swept away, people whom no-one will notice nor remember because all their friends and family died too? I don’t buy that argument. I think it’s seeing the every day people – people like the rest of us – that makes it more personal. Seeing “missing” posters of loved ones, often with a photo taken on holiday, etc. really brings it home.

Maybe my sarcastic “tragic” was a little insensitve to those that had real tragedy, but much of the story was about fairly minor stuff (Attenborough aside) when others have had much greater losses and CNN should be reporting more in-depth than this kind of Entertainment Tonight material in my opinion.

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