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2012-04-02 Popular Geopolitics.docx

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Geography 2142A/B
Mireya Folch- Serra

Popular Geopolitics Films, television, music, cartoons, the internet and radio Reading: Chapter 6 and 3 from Geopolitics April 2, 2012 Images and representations -images circulate within and beyond national political cultures -images of political life are fused with the mass media -how do images of global politics circulate in television, radio, internet, etc. Topics of popular geopolitics: themes, films, and cartoons Films: 1. The Green Zone 2. The Hurt Locker 3. –Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy -films can be used to explore how the practical geopolitics ofAmerican foreign policy finds expression in the popular geopolitics of Hollywood, and the larger world of the Cold War Themes: -Branding -Framing Cartoons -Danish cartoons Arab cartoons? The power and the irony of cartoons -Selected framings such as the “war on terror” or the “war on drugs” favour certain understandings at the expense of others Branding -Abrand is a trademark: a name, symbol, logo, or other item used to mark a product or maker. This distinguishes it from other companies and their products -in geopolitics, branding is understood as the representation of people or places: e.g. -Countries -Muslims -Christians Framing -the power of the media lies in the manner in which events, people, and places are “framed” -Framing describes the way in which a story is explained to viewed or listeners -The case of the Danish cartoons brought to the fore two geopolitical imaginations (frames) which could not be reconciled: 1. Those who argued for critical and provocative freedom of expression 2. And those who asked for respect for the other The geopolitics of the Danish cartoon • On Sept 2005 a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a terrorist • The newspaper explained this publication as a contribution to the critique of Islam and the debate over self‐censorship • The cartoons were published in 50 other countries • This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence with police firing on the crowds (resulting in more than 100 deaths, all together) How haveArab countries responded to the Danish cartoons? • The global Christian church has been plagued by a systemic problem of corruption and abuse of minors • The western media recently disclosed the abuse • To protect the institution and, above all, its wealth, the Pope has apologised • In recent years, the Catholic Church in the United States has paid over $2 billion in abuse settlements • In Canada too, the Christian church has been made to pay and apology • No one knows how far back it goes this massive crime against humanity (children) • Arab cartoonists have not drawn cartoons about Christian clergy abusing children. No retribution for the Danish cartoons that devalue the entire religion of Islam.Arab cartoonists have shown finesse and maturity by not mocking the global Christian church while respecting the feelings of besieged Christian believers In summary • Critics of the cartoons described them as framed by Islamaphobic and racist undertones. They were intended to humiliate a Danish minority (Muslims) • The Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Europe has affected several dioceses in European nations, and many dioceses in the United States ofAmerica and Canada. • Both instances involve the global community • But the response of cartoonists to these events are quite different Mass media shapes public opinion Examples: -TheAbu Ghraib prison in Baghdad -the abuse ofAfghan prisoners -the Danish cartoons -the scandal of the Christian Church -the murder of Afghan women and children -the murder of Jewish children in Toulouse -mass media shapes the geopolitical architecture of global politics by exposing the above Images have a long cultural afterlife • In October 2004, Osama bin Laden recalled via a broadcast posted on the internet how watching television pictures of tower blocks in Beirut being hit by Israeli jets provided him with idea of assaultingAmerican buildings. • He was referring to the Israeli military action taken in June 1982. Two decades later his plan of action was implemented with deadly consequences on Sept 11, 2001 Images of 1982 in Beirut shaped the images of Sep. 11, 2001 in New York Hollywood and national security camera -‘National security cinema,’outlines highly imaginative threats facing the United States: 1. Soviet and other communists (Cold War) 2. Nazis, 3. terrorists, 4. extraterrestrials 5. meteors 6. uncontrollable nature forces and machines It is said that • “War is often fought twice – once on the battlefield and once on film” • ‘War is show business’ Films of the Second World War, the Cold War, and the post Cold War • Films explore how the practical geopolitics ofAmerican foreign politics finds expression in the popular geopolitics of Hollywood • How are threats represented? • What moral message do we get from films? Films about the Second World War -a clear storyline:Allies good,Axis bad -within this framework, all kinds of stories are open to re-examination decades later -the top five Second World War films of the past 20 years were: -Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbour, Inglorious Basterds, Schindler’s List, and Valkyrie -All had narratives with strong points of view that were easy to grasp -the heroes were racked with doubt (Saving Private Ryan), or were vengeful scalpers (Inglourious Basterds) or traitorous German officers (Valkyrie) Representing the Cold War: the power of propaganda (1950s to 1990s) -Frank Capra’s series “Why we fight” were required viewing for all US servicemen and women -American authorities recognized the importance of shaping military and public opinion -The CIAprovided secret funding for the animated film Animal Farm (1954) -The Soviet Union was depicted as “Red Menace” ceaseless in its desire to corrupt the body politic ofAmerica -over 300 people including Charlie Chaplin, and Orson Wells were blacklisted in Hollywood -a visual culture of dissent was smothered during the CW A modern Cold War film: Tinker Taylor, Soldier, Spy -Based on the classic novel of the same name, the international thriller is set at the height of the Cold War years of the mid-20 century. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government – which fears that the British Secret Intelligence Service, a.k.a. MI-6, has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets. -Smiley agrees to return and in the course of his examination learns that the secret Soviet source has become the mainstay of the service, one that they soon plan to use to get at US intelligence information. Smiley soon realizes that the Soviets have turned the service inside out. Films about Vietnam -Forty six years ago (August 4, 1964) the Tonkin Gulf lie launched the Vietnam War (there were no actual NV torpedo boat attacks) Aseries of films attempted to represent that history: -Coming Home -The Deer Hunter -Apocalypse Now -Platoon -Born on the Fourth of July -Full Metal Jacket -Casualties of War -Hamburger Hill -Across the Universe -Hair The Vietnam War films -these films are conflicting stories with no clear winner and no clear cut heroes or villains. They have a darker, but still clearly understandable, narrative -Unlike Second World War films, which are largely heroic, Vietnam War films are chaotic -They focus on the confusion, brutal violence, and political and economic malfeasance of war
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