Tuesday, March 22, 2016

inside an American gun show - BBC News

Guns for sale - inside an American gun show - BBC News

This video is an opportunity for Americans to see what those who get BBC News as a broadcast or cable TV commodity see. Something that’s ordinarily unavailable to them. When it comes to straight reportage of events, this would not likely seem very remarkable to them. After all, a BBC reporter is likely to read copy about an airliner crash in China, for instance, pretty much the same as an American reporter might. But what about opinion pieces, editorial pieces that show attitudes and values?  About America?  The video becomes, therefore, a peculiar lens through which to view and understand oneself. This view is not communicated intentionally; it's something like accidentally overhearing people talk about you in an unguarded, opinionated way.

Americans and guns/guns and Americans... Americans, like me, either think people should have guns or the right to have guns or maybe they believe America needs gun control of one sort or another. But if you are an American you know and accept that there are guns, plenty of guns... and you know people who own them, own them unapologetically or proudly or maybe you know some folks who own them and don't want to advertise or talk about that fact. Still, Americans understand at the cellular level that guns are a fact of life and that if you take a wrong turn in the toiletry aisle of Walmarts and wander past the toothpaste into house wares, before you realize you're lost and make a U-turn at sheets and pillowcases, you just may wind up in Sporting Goods where you are within self-serve reach of firearms the way you would be of facial tissues and school supplies a few aisles over. No biggie! 

This video, though, was produced for others, people who live in a society in which guns are something seen on Television, are props held by villains in hour long dramas, but are rarely encountered otherwise.  

I think it's fair to say that what's communicated to the intended audience is incredulous disbelief that what's being observed, up close and personal, could actually be happening anywhere, at all. That the producers and reporter are sharing their catching Americans in the act of being themselves. That is, unabashedly indulging what for (the producers feel) any civilized or sane people would be considered a dangerous and bellicose vice,  getting satisfaction from owning devices intended to seriously maim and kill their fellow humans.

It's not hard to imagine what their day of shooting (video footage, that is) and editing might have looked like. Producers assistants scouting a likely gun show to cover, checking with the organizers to get necessary permissions or reminding them of the press' right to cover public events, pre-viewing the various vendors' stands to line up likely sources of footage of military grade firearms about to be taken home by ordinary people (ordinary Americans, not ordinary civilized world citizens). And while they likely took several hours worth of footage, what makes it into the final 2 minute, 48 second cut are shots of a pretty American housewife-type with her bored, middle school aged son in tow shopping for a laser sight for her handgun; the reporter getting his hands on a creepily World War III looking 'short barrel' firearm; display after display of rifles, shotguns, and handguns; a variety of American gun nut-types; and people talking about why they own guns. Their comments include the expected rhetoric about self defense, terrorism, and how gun control will only "help the terrorists." And towards the end, the reporter gives us his summation voice-over, "In America guns are seen as symbols of freedom and liberty, an intrinsic component to national identity... and it's part of the national psyche from an early age!" And then we see how the news crew got lucky. Edited in at the tail end is a 3 second shot of an American woman wheeling a stroller through the gun show with her toddler inside and her young child looks into the camera while waving an (is it a toy?) assault rifle. 

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