The age of the apocalypsticle

My first article for Politico is on “disaster porn”, with Ukraine coverage as a key example:

The Kyiv protests were also starting to look like clickbait. By the end of the day on Wednesday, Business InsiderTalking Points MemoBuzzfeed and Mashable had all published their own listicle versions of what Huffington Post called “Ukraine Crisis: 12 Apocalyptic Pictures After Nation’s Deadliest Day.” High in resolution, low on explanation, the articles painted Ukraine’s carnage by numbers.

A new genre had been born: the apocalypsticle.

Ukraine has never been a country that attracted mainstream media interest. The tens of thousands of people viewing, sharing and posting photos of the Eastern European state likely had little knowledge of what Ukraine looked like before the violence—protesters are now claiming at least 100 people have died in the latest clashes—took place. The fascination of the photos is not that Ukraine no longer look familiar, but that it finally does. Ukraine looks like a movie set, like World War II, like the apocalypse. It spurs the imagination because it is real.

Ukraine looks like nothing is really supposed to look, and so no one can stop looking.

Read the whole thing: The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine: What does our addiction to disaster porn say about us?

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15 Responses to The age of the apocalypsticle

  1. YMA says:

    Great article. I’ve thought about this for a long time; whether the images in American media of death and despair in “far away places” are to elicit empathy and support, or are just a sort of reality show for viewers that allows them to feel disconnected from what the images really mean. At least in the case of natural disasters, such images inspire people to donate money or help out in some other material way. In the case of war, what are the stricken communities gaining from our media plastering images of their most vulnerable people in their worst moments on our screens? Seems the only people that benefit are the news outlets that are stooping lower and lower to attract viewers.

  2. Christopher says:

    The article by SARAH KENDZIOR is still guilty of what the writer implies all the other media outlets are guilty of. Sarah’s article is so…. nineties intern. It’s kinda catchy, kinda play-on-words, but it still avoids the grist of the story of what’s going on there because she’s not reporting EITHER.

    She is playing the introspective individual smarter-than-anyone wherein she is producing a media report about…. the media! (Boring. How dumb do you think we are?)

    It’s like election time in the US. All these stories about the campaigns, but nothing really substantive about the candidates. Same you-missed-the-point writing but you still get credit for being cute about it?

    Brash internish Sarah spouts off for two pages about how the media is using the event for web traffic yet ignoring the people that are experiencing the difficulties at the heart of the event.

    Her schoolgirl article lacks the same she accuses others of leaving out; it’s just that she thinks she rides a higher horse. Nice try. It probably would have gotten you a pass in a community college communications class.

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