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Another offensive, nasty commentary from the Globe and Mail. My emphasis added:
Do I have to say it?
CBC's military obsession just feels creepy
By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 – Page R3
As you may have gathered from yesterday's epistle from the TV Cranny, the mood here is evasive.
It is mid-December and a certain matter, so obvious and in your face that it would poke you in the eye, has not been dealt with. Far from it. It's all digression and evasion.
The matter is Christmas, the holidays, whatever you're calling it yourself. Tinsel, mistletoe, Frosty the Snowman, Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, eggnog, shopping and having a meltdown in the mall. You know what I'm talking about.
I'm not against it. It is what it is. But I come from a contrary people. And the time has come to speak plainly: There is no period in the calendar year that breeds more nonsense and specious, nitwit sentimentality in the popular culture than this, the holiday season.
The media in general and television in particular can often exceed sentimentality and get outright sanctimonious on various issues. Right now, the CBC appears to be using the holiday season to go overboard on the matter of our military.
The other night, I turned on The National on CBC, expecting the day's news coverage, as any person might. Up popped Pastor Mansbridge in a black turtleneck sweater and suede jacket, yakking at me from a military base near Edmonton. He informed viewers that this special edition of The National was about "the home front" or some equally inane phrase. It was about our military and the mission in Afghanistan, in other words. But it was couched in we're-all-in-this-together coverage of the military and their families in that Edmonton location.
There was an air of giddiness and excitement. It was easy to tell how important it was -- the actual news of the day was hurried along so that we could get back to talking about how great the military is.
Excuse me? I haven't counted the minutes and hours that CBC-TV News has devoted to chronicling the mission in Afghanistan and the military's role, but I know what it feels like. It feels creepy. There's something odious about our public broadcaster appearing so obsequious in its obvious celebration of what the military is doing in Afghanistan.
Of course, any thinking, feeling person can grasp the difficulties facing families with a member serving in Afghanistan. It's tough and emotionally wrenching. But we don't need to be hit over the head with the message.
Besides, the population is not united in support of our current role in Afghanistan.
The CBC's obsession with the military bespeaks a diminution of journalistic standards that is reprehensible at any time, but the clear and obvious linking of the military with the holiday season is simply appalling. It sentimentalizes the armed forces and their action in Afghanistan. War is not something to be sentimentalized at any time. To sentimentalize is to fetishize under the guise of good feeling. To fetishize the military is to appeal to the authorities for respect. And in this case, "authority" is the minority Conservative government.
The debate about Canada's role in Afghanistan is one of considerable scope and complexity. It is debated almost daily by politicians from all sides. The day after The National indulged in its boosterism, this paper had, on its front page, a report that Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe is ready to trigger the defeat of the Conservative government if Canada's role in Afghanistan does not change soon. Opposition Leader Stéphane Dion is also demanding a refocusing of the Afghan mission, and says the government was wrong to prolong its military commitment there until 2009.
In this circumstance, CBC's attitude and actions give the appearance of an obedient press corps, placating the government.
The other night, that National special included terrifying footage of our soldiers in action. There were profiles of soldiers who had been decorated for bravery, and interviews with some of them. A few were clearly giddy from the experience of combat. Their perspective on combat was raw and unfocused. Medals for valour they may have won, but logic and truth they have not. Instead of advertising, the National special might as well have carried the message "Brought to you by General Rick Hillier."
The military command our respect. But CBC-TV News doesn't need to drool over our soldiers. The country is not united behind the current Afghan mission and, at this time of year, self-doubt is still okay. Discomfort and disapproval too.
Airing tonight: Bones (Fox, Global, 8 p.m.) is a souped-up episode. For a start, it's directed by David Duchovny, who was Mulder on The X-Files. It also has two notable guest-star turns. Kathy Reichs, the writer and forensics expert whose work was the basis for the series, makes an appearance. And Ryan O'Neal turns up as a priest.
The plot has a man's body found gutted, burned and hung up like a scarecrow on the roof of a government building in Washington. While "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) investigates, she gets a message that the case has something to with her long-lost father.
Me, I'm away for a day. Back here on Friday.
Dates and times may vary across the country. Check local listings.
Do I have to say it?