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The body of war and the management of imperial anxiety on US television

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This essay considers representations of wounded US Iraq veterans on US broadcast television, in order to determine the role entertainment media are playing in the management of imperial relations in Iraq. Covering reality programs such as The Montel Williams Show and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and the scripted dramas, Bones and Without a Trace, it demonstrates how the presentation of soldier-suffering effaces the Iraqi victims of US violence and channels public anger and frustration towards emotional support for US troops. Ultimately, such representations produce a form of empty empathy that disables attempts to translate the fact of human vulnerability into a basis for non-military political action.
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Keywords: US television; War in Iraq; militainment; militarism; therapeutic rhetoric; trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Oklahoma State University.

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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