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Prescribing placebos for a terrified metropolis

Prescribing placebos for a terrified metropolis

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Published by Ash Hibbert
Luke Howie
Luke Howie

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Published by: Ash Hibbert on Feb 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/06/2013

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Ash Hibbert
http://acoldandlonelystreet.blogspot.com.au/ 
 
Prescribing placebos for a terrifiedmetropolis
Luke Howie
The remarkable impact of September 11 is as much testimony of the time and space in which itoccurred as the act itself 
.”
 Dr Luke Howie is investigating the ways in which we have collectively responded to September 11.In his earlier book,
Terrorism, the Worker and the City 
, he argues that terrorism has arrived in
Australia only as a ‘simulation’.“T
he fact of the matter is that terrorism has not
 –
and does not
 –
occur on Australia streets. Instead,
it’s
something we watch on television, something we see on the internet. An attack occurs in NewYork City, and people in Melbourne run for cover
 –
a bizarre outcome of media discourses in aglobally linked, internet-based society made up of social networking websites. The funny thing is,that did not stop Australian firms and departments spending around $8 billion on a problem that in
some conceptions simply doesn’t exist here.”
 In his research, Luke has found managers of major infrastructure who believe that a terrorist attackis both unlikely to occur yet impossible to prevent. He spoke to sporting event organisers, whotalked about how at major events they do
100 per cent bag searches
.
As I pressed such
people they eventually said, ‘Look, we all know we can’t do a 100 per cent bagsearch, we know it’s impossible, we know a certain percentage get through.’
And so, we never mean
what we say when we’re talking about security.
We want to go to a major event, we want to enjoyit, and a 100 per cent bag search makes us feel good even though we know that if someone had a
suicide vest attached to themselves they’d probably get in a lot of the time.”
 Just as the threat arrives to us as a simulation, so too should we respond to it
with ‘simulated
se
curity’
. The
appearance
of security would be enough to deter most terrorists, Luke says.
It makes would-
be violent terrorist in this mythical scenario say, ‘Hmm ... that sounds like a more
difficult
target.’
And if you were able to reduce the psychological impact that terrorism has on asociety, terror tactics lose much of their appeal.
 
Luke’s
most recent book,
Terror on the Screen
, looks at the ways in which an attack in New York Cityhas reverberated through our pop-culture artefacts. In it, he talks about TV shows such as
SouthPark 
,
The Simpsons
,
Family Guy 
, and films such as
25th Hour 
, which integrate terrorism into theircanon. And he contrasts these with shows such as
Friends
,
The West Wing
and
How I Met Your Mother 
, which he describes as depictions of a parallel universe, and
post-September 11 tributes toa world that did not blow up
.
“T
hese shows
’ narrative
s never confronted September 11 head on; they just pretended it neveroccurred. T
hey didn’t want
September 11 to be part of the fictional narrative of our television. As an

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