Unit 3 – Genocide

In comparing these two texts, it’s important to provide their distinct differences and main points as well. That said, Gourevitch focuses his writing on the history behind while weaving in the message that the help from other nations was rather insignificant due to the fact that they simply did not find it important. The most notable example of this lies in the words of General Dallaire who speaks on the lack of support in Rwanda. “…who the hell cared about Rwanda? I mean, face it. Essentially how many people really still remember the genocide in Rwanda?” (Gourevitch, 168). I find that this speaks to the media availability in the country and the rather gory images that were portrayed in the news for “shock factor”. Not only was this detrimental in gaining access to aid for Rwanda, but it portrayed the country’s dead in a horrid light. The correlation between Sontag and Gourevitch exists here, in the idea that the darker the complexion of an image or instances of war, the less likely it is to have support from others. This idea of relatability from others drives both of these excerpts of work. Sontag claims that the media will portray images as less gory, or blur/censor if it is relatable to their viewers. Another connection of these two works is the correlation between distance and emotion. It seems that there is somewhat of a pattern between how far one is from a ‘war-like event’ and how emotional the viewers are to it. Like Dallaire mentioned, to people in the U.S., they must have been glad to not have that happening in their country, but had it did, I’m positive that the media would have censored it to an extreme level. This falls in line with the treatment of the situation by UNAMIR who stood by and watched as people died. Just as the Hutus were under instruction by their government to kill, UNAMIR followed directions they were given instead of doing the morally just thing. The same goes for Madeline Albright who quite frankly, might not have cared about the situation, and watched from a distance. To conclude and reiterate my main point, relatability to the viewer of the media is what connects these two works, specifically how emotions are tied into play through this process.

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