Television Language Of White Noise Essay Research — страница 2

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five hundred human beings…against mud slides in California … against any great adversity; adversity juxtaposed against the detached backdrop of blue-screen bleach-white toothed television. DeLillo cautions that we should not be frightened or repulsed by our vulture-like tendency to happily consume the bloodshed and gore of the disaster epic. After all, it is not true misery we are witnessing; it is only a copy of their copy of how the misery should be. It is only a televised simulation of the expected responses of “people” shocked out of their reality. Why should we fear a copy, it cannot harm us? Why should we fear our fascination with that copy; isn’t that fascination only human and in a way life-affirming? Our safety is in our distance from the actual object if ever

there was such a thing; the Simulacra protects us from its danger. DeLillo writes about the Gladneys witnessing TV disaster: “For most people there are only two places in the world. Where they live and their TV set. If a thing happens on television, we have every right to find it fascinating, whatever it is” (66). The Toxic Event montage in White Noise can be paralleled to the Simulacra of television and the comfort it brings to those who experience it. The Toxic Event is not an event in and of itself but only becomes an event when it is made one through the official filters of media. Jack and Babbete discuss this perplexity during the onset of the Event: “What if the symptoms are real?” “How could they be real?” “Why couldn’t they be real?” “They get them

only when they’re broadcast” (133). The power of the media Simulacra is so convincing that even a lesser source, such as the radio, can control the symptoms of its participants. The responses of the Gladney children to the Toxic Event are only materialized when they are affirmed and created by the radio. The entire Toxic Event is coded in the language and terms of the media and more specifically television. Safety from the Event is found by the characters coding the real disaster as a television epic. The safety is found in the association of “real” horror with the “simulated” horror on television. DeLillo codes the entire scene as a TV event by using TV jargon words such as “scene” and “panoramic.” Frow acknowledges this and includes a selected passage in his

notes: “In its tremendous size, its dark and bulky menace, its escorting aircraft, the clouds resembled a national promotion for death, a multimillion-dollar campaign backed by radio spots, heavy paint and billboard, TV saturation [italics mine]” (qtd. in Frow 423-4). In the mind’s eye of the spectators the black cloud is something they’ve seen before; it is something they’ve experienced before in Bhopal etc. through the Simulacra of television. The people are not seeing the true Toxic Cloud but instead a cloud conditioned by thousands of hours of toxic clouds they have seen on television. The helicopter lights—the spotlights on the superstar at the center stage of the exodus epic—the Toxic Cloud. The Toxic Event is further seen as paralleling television in its

obvious distance from any reality. No one is killed by the Event, as would be the case with any self-respecting disaster. The reality of the toxicity itself, due to the lack of death, is called into question. If no one dies there can be no disaster; for the only disasters that cause no death are those beaming into living rooms of America from the television. The children, the most astute seers of the Gladney household, recognize the unimportance of the Event and demonstrate this by sleeping through it. Not only is the event made unimportant by its parallels with television it is made beautiful as is seen in the author’s fixation on its grandeur. Television, especially disaster television and the bigger and better crash films discussed by Murray, are not beautiful due to their

American ethic, but rather because of their distance from an immediate reality. DeLillo maintains this assertion and ties it into Deleuze’s theory by showing that the disaster unfolding outside the windows of the Gladney’s station wagon is itself unreal—just a Simulacra. Although the Toxic Event parallels the hyper-reality of television, it is the lack of television in the physical sense, which causes the greatest deal of stress to the survivors. Frow notes DeLillo’s concern of this: “The most horrifying fact about the evacuation is that it isn’t even reported on network television. ‘Does this thing happen so often that nobody cares anymore?’ asks one man” (qtd. in Frow 423). People are shocked by a noticeable lack of a copy of their distress. No cameras are