A box named Television

Ideology, hegemony and power are something that inseparable. The ruling class needs power to implement their ideas to society and also to protect their dominance. On the other hand, there is always a group of people who is trying to against the dominance and create a balance condition.


The context of power in this article is media. Yes, media-particularly television has been known for long time for its power to reach audiences until solitary area; as our information sources and entertainment. For some group of people, media is a tool to achieve their goal.

In Iraq war, Bush administration used media as their tool of propaganda, to pursue their interest; Nixon was using media to reinstate his reputation; Kidlat Tahimik uses media to protect his traditional culture.

Well, television is only a small box-square, which we put in our home. But the power of it is unbelievable.


It’s all about information

Iraq war was a moment where media could take part on war, report from the front-line and had huge exposure for that. For example, we can watch what American soldier did in the front-line; how is the war situation; and many things related with war.

Media gave us much information about war.

Bush administration wanted to use media for their purposes to make Iraq war legal. He did everything well from the preparation until the war era.

After 911 attack, american citizen were afraid with national security. They feel threatened. Then, not so long, Bush came up with information that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapon and had a tendency to attack United States.

Public were shocked…

Bush was using American’s fear as weapon to support his action. So, that all American will support him, and will not raise question anymore about the purpose of war.

Well, what I’m trying to tell that, American citizen was afraid with national security issue. In the same time, Bush was campaigning about chemical weapon and how important it is to attack Saddam Hussein and bring him to the court. So that, whatever Bush’s agenda behind the Iraq war, people will blindly support his action.

This is an example of how power (media and information) was used to force the set of ideas from ruling class to legitimate his purposes; until people are not questioning those ideas anymore.

The same principle also applied in the battlefield, the military was trying to strict the information, which is come and out from war. People around the world cannot get the real picture about the war. The US military only inform about the success of the join forces troops, but never inform what is the real condition.

Thanks to journalists who were looking for the truth of the information. Finally, people can smell something wrong in the war. However, the price of having true information did not come cheap, in fact it was very expensive since many journalist sacrificed their own lives in order to deliver the truth – based on Committee for Journalist, 139 journalists died in Iraq war.

In The Control Room movie, Aljazeera as a local network in Arab was trying to give the real pictures of the war. Being objective is one of Aljazeera agenda.

Well, they did it. During Iraq war, Aljazeera broadcast news about war, which is never covered by other television stations. For instance; the coverage of death American soldier bodies that really shook American people and made American authority mad.

What Aljazeera did is one of efforts to balance the information. Aljazeera coverage gave the picture of what was really going on, and how war actually delivered casualties for both sides. Nothing good comes from war.

So, even though Bush and his administration were trying to manipulate the media, but media itself (journalists and viewers) has ability to see what is really going on and to inform the reality.


Political journalism

The first and greatest sin or deception of television is that is simplifies, it diminishes, great, complex ideas, tranches of time. Whole career become reduced to a single snapshot.

James Reston, Jr. – Author

That is what happened with Nixon.

As an ex-President of United States, Nixon had self-confident, political skills, and knowledge of politics games. In the other words, he like a football player who knows how to play the ball and has perfect knowledge about it.

On the other hand, Frost was a British’s star in showbiz. He had knowledge about the power of television and he had an automatic instict for that. That’s why when he was watching Nixon’s last speech, he knew if he could interview Nixon, he would be famous.

Actually, when Nixon gave his last speech, many fellow americans were waiting for his explanation and apology for what happened. But, it never came out.

The full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed during presidency era was given by his successor, Gerald Ford. This apology was a smooth way to say that the investigation about Watergate scandal was closed.

So, people did not have any reason to ask or to investigate it anymore.

Moreover, Richard Nixon was trying to reinstate his reputation. He knew, with his charisma and self-confidence, he could do it.


Then the question is how to do it?

Of course by an interview session in television. He just need someone that he can control, and does not know about politics and journalism. So, he chose Frost as his interviewer. Nixon was very sure that Frost does not have critical thinking as a journalist, but he was wrong. As a media person, Frost has a responsibility to deliver the truth to audiences.

If Richard Nixon was believed in himself, then Frost was very dependent on information. He knew, that information is his magic wand. Frost was hiring two researchers to research the scandal and to dig up the reality.

The interview session did not going well as Nixon’s idea. If in the beginning, Nixon thought that he could manipulate the information, but in the end he failed. Frost had many evidence to prove the scandal.

The information that Frost had, lead the confession and apology from Nixon.

Finally, the truth was revealed. People were respond differently.

The Watergate scandal and Iraq war have a similarity. Both are trying to use media to manipulate and hide the truth. But to control media is not easy as they think. Media is too powerful, because media has it own way to tell the truth.

Past Forward Tribal Videos


As a person who live in modern world, it is a common for us to neglect our ancestor tradition. Simply for modern people, tradition is out of date. I’m is the good example of that kind of person, I was born in chinese family. Since I was a kid, my parents had introduced me to many things about chinese tradition, but I never thought that seriously. I mean, well we live in modern world. Logic is the weapon to analyze things and many of the tradition is superstitious. For example: in celebrating chinese new year, there is a tradition not to clean the house on the day of chinese new year because it will bring bad luck. For me, it doesn’t make sense. Somehow it is absurd to think that tradition can stand pararel with modernity

Kidlat Tahimik, an independent filmmaker, wanted to enlighten a modern person like me to value tradition. The message is simple: without tradition you will lose your identity. Kidlat wanted to challenge the modern society to preserve tradition. His idea of using media ( a form of modernity) to protect ancient tradition and culture is the real example of how modernity and tradition can get along together.

This thirty minutes documentary movie has enlightened me. The use of video as visual media to attract young generation toward the tradition is a brilliant. Through video, Kidlat was able to give young generation the real feel and experience about ancient tradition. In fact he made the young generation become part of tradition. He blended well the tradition and young generation.

Now, the challenge as Asian people is what we can do to preserve our own tradition?


One thought on “A box named Television

  1. hi jenny, it is really a good reflection. i like your way of adding your personal experience to that. that is great.

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