I saw this movie two days ago and it brought some ideas to my head. Before I get into that I think the movie was good; but I feel it could have explained the situation a little better. Here are a some things that influenced the events that occured which were not mentioned like:
- The UN did not allow the press to use the word "genocide" because there is a law that forces the UN to send immediate help if a genocide occurs.
- The Hutus were French speaking people while the Tutsis were English speaking people. This motivated the french forces present in Rwanda to train and armor the French speaking Hutus (Frech vs. English). The French army stood there during the massacres and did nothing.
- Anyone who saw this film would jump to the conclusion that the Hutu people are racist savages. It is true that there have been conflicts between the two groups but the majority of the Hutus were moderates including the late president. The film does not clearly specify that it was the Hutu extremists who assassinated the president and PM and blamed it on the Tutsis. It is these Hutu extremists who took control of the government and the media. Then they fooled the people into thinking that all Tutsis were secretly scheming to kill Hutus. They convinced the people that their own lives were in danger unless they picked up their machetes and started killing Tutsis.
Enough of that. Now I will focus on the media. The media in Rwanda or the media of the world? Both. When the Hutu extremists took over the government they took over the government runned radio. Rwanda is somewhat poor so TV's are not present in every home, but radios are. It is through the radio that these extremists were able to fulfill their plans. In one broadcast, the whole country knew (a lie of course) that the Tutsis had shot down the presidents plane. From then on the extremists broadcasted on every station 24-7 about the Tutsi spies who plotted to kill all Hutus and wanted to take over the country. When the extremists realized how easy people responded they started stating that all Tutsis were dangerous rebels who should be executed. They made it seem that it was every citizen's call of duty to protect their country and family. The radio was the key. It gave the extremists the power to brainwash and scare its own citizens to commit what is now remembered as the las genocide of the century (1900's). Remember that this was on all the time. The extremists even described the way Hutus should be executed (Tutsis were considered taller than Hutus, so the radio would say: Cut them from the shins and bring them down to regular size).
People will probably fail to notice that this kind of situtation could happen anywhere. It did! (Hitler's Germany). What people don't realize is that there lies inmense power within the media. The media has the power to make you believe anything the controller (of the media) wants. I think the movie Wag the Dog tinkers with this idea. But we trust TV don't we. Luckily for us no evil presence has taken over the media (corporations have taken our money, but not our lives) yet, but it is a possibility. How would you react to such an event. Will you be sheep following the herd or will you actually stop, think, and say this... is wrong.
Another idea I want look at is the concept of authority. We may hate to think of it, but aren't we all children of society. If we misbehave doesn't daddy (the government) punish us. We all hold respect for the authority; we don't steal, pay our taxes etc. So when government tell us that it is OK to do something don't we just willingly accept it. After all it is the government who is telling us to do it. This is the same ideology that helped Hitler build his army. When the Nazi party took control of the the country it became acceptable to single out Jews and take their wealth. It became acceptable to start taking over neighboring countries. So it is the government who sells the idea and we ( the children) deem it acceptable because it came from above. Even those who are not sure wether to follow will, because their friends and neighbors are all doing it.
We can also look at the role that media played in the Rwanda case outside the country, including the US. I'm pretty sure everyone remembers the Tsunami that hit Asia in December that left about a quarter of a million dead. It was on the front page of every newspaper and the opening headline news of every station for about a week or two. It was incredible! Every country was donating money. There were many private donations from american households and we even had telethons and people who wanted to adopt the orphan children. It was a very tragic event, but I would like for someone to explain to me how the death of 250,000 people by a tsunami is more tragic than the death of 800,000 being chopped up alive! The Rwanda case was given very little importance when it occured. Does anyone actually remember seeing it on the news? Before some of you start getting mad at me for playing down the tsunami tragedy I just want you to think about what would have happened if the Rwanda tragedy would have received the same worldwide attention that the tsunami tragedy. Every government of the powerful nations would have appeared indignant if they did not lend their military support to stop the massacre. The reaction of the people to this genocide would have pushed goverments to do something about it. But nobody knew, and noone came to the rescue of the Tutsis. So not only are the citizens of Rwanda deeply impacted by their government runned radio, but they are also betrayed by every other news channel in the world.
If you saw the trailer to the movie, you might have heard that the OJ Simpson case was the concern of most americans at the time. How can the prosecution of one man mean more than the genocide of an entire group of people. Now, this is just one example. Now think about how many times you think you are watching news when in reality you are just getting trash while the real news is being ignored. Unfortunetly it happens everyday. I would rather be uninformed than receive false information. Besides who gives a shit about Paris Hilton or Michael Jackson, when there is so much hunger and poverty right now at this very moment that you read this. How can it be labeled news. Think about what really matters, and then think is the media doing its job?