Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To the End of TV

In the dismally undercooked film Legion (Scott Charles Stewart, 2010), the coming apocalypse is in one instance signified by an emergency broadcast signal on an old TV.  "This is not a test," it reads.  It's got to be a test, concludes one character.  No - but if the emergency was real, wouldn't there be instructions for us? asks another.  Perhaps.  The film indicates at one point that, in parts elsewhere, crypto-government forces are reaching critical mass to fight the god-zombies.

In this film, God can shut off TV transmission, send a storm of billions of flies, but cannot send a bomb into a roadside gas station.  (The roadside gas station out in the desert: from Detour, Ace in the Hole, Red Dawn, the first two Terminator movies, the Tremors franchise, etc.)  If you've read Meaghan Morris' "Banality in Cultural Studies" (here) you may recall her anecdote of a television newsflash in Sydney about how "something has happened" in Darwin - or to Darwin.  But, initially, the startling thing was that no information had come from Darwin.  The city, which it turned out was hit by a cyclone, had stopped communication, and this was the certain marker of disaster.  "This was not catastrophe on TV - like the Challenger sequence - but a catastrophe of and for TV."

The television set is a portal to the electro-ether that soothes a nation.  TV transmission operates like antennae of the social imaginary.  When it - it, not any particular TV set - malfunctions, one may conclude that the shit has hit the fan.

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