Gadhafi, did you really want to be in pictures?
Gadhafi, what did you expect? You died in the streets of your home town at the hands of your vassals. You were dragged around like day old garbage as you begged for your life to be spared. Television viewers were privy to the hole in your forehead after you were shot. For forty-two years you ruled with an iron hand and carried a gold pistol as an extension of your persona.
News coverage throughout the world carried the message and images of Gadhafi’s death. Reports of celebrating went streaming in cyberspace. Libyans were dancing in the streets, shooting guns in the air, and yelling out shouts of victory. In the City of Detroit, all was relatively quiet compared to Libya. But our television sets were making us think twice about this world that we all inhabit and the draconian nature of human survival. Likewise, we may be closer to the action than we think. Modern technology has made our world smaller and more accessible. With the speed of light, one can connect to all of the good, the bad, and the ugly. (McNaughton-Cassill, et al 2009) Television exposure and emotional responses to violent coverage in a population geographically removed from the violence does not happen in a vacuum. The responses are linked to deliberate viewing and coping choices, and are influenced by the personal characteristics of those involved. Likewise, a mental picture on the television screen can outlast the words that accompany the image, simultaneously causing the viewer to experience an emotional reaction.
In Detroit, and all over the country, the images were in our living rooms and the horror of the aftermath did not conclude when we turned off our television sets. Unfortunately, one could touch their television screen and vicariously embody the dissention and confusion surrounding Gadhafi’s real time death. Our television sets are so clear that we could see the smile lines around the faces of Gadhafi’s tormenters. High definition television has made the latter possible.
Gadhafi in syndication
Under Gadhafi’s regime, the government executed and mutilated political opponents in public, as well as broadcasting these atrocities on Libyan television (Elijahmi, 2006). Maybe that prophetic gem, “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you” does carry some weight.
Do you think that television might have a pinch of twisted poetic justice?
Gadhafi’s intelligence had a “…cozy relationship with western spy organizations including the CIA, who voluntarily provided information on Libyan dissidents to the regime in exchange for using Libya as a base for extraordinary renditions” (Wedeman, 2011). His relationship with world leaders became a roller coaster of diplomatic finger pointing. Sources indicate that Gadhafi condemned the bombing of the Twin Towers, but contributed to the funding of terrorists. He allegedly had a crush on Condoleezza Rice, and he was shown in many pictures, as of late, with dignitaries and world leaders.
We may not know who the real Moammar Gadhafi was. The television camera depicted him as well dressed, well maintained, and clean. The print media painted him as a brutal insane dictator. Nevertheless, we saw him in pictures during his demise as dirty, bloody, dazed, and totally disgraced. Currently, he is in a still photo, flat on his back, in a market freezer for all to see, even those a thousand miles away from Libya.
Pandora is out of the box now, and there is no turning back. It appears that we want to see all of the guts, pain, and glory.
Eljahmi, E. (2006). “Libya and the U.S.: Qadhafi Unrepentant”. The Middle East Quarterly. http://www.meforum.org/878/libya-and-the-us-qadhafi-unrepentant.
McNaughton-Cassill, M., Novian, D., Holmes, T., Smith, T., Smith, T. (Winter, 2009) Emotional Stress and Coping in Response to Television News Coverage of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. Journal of Media Psychology, V 14, No. 1.
Wedeman, B. (4 September 2011). “Documents shed light on CIA, Gadhafi spy ties”. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/09/03/libya.west.spies/. Retrieved 3 September 2011