The End Of The World
Week 12

James Leavey's


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By James Leavey

We're living in an age where we have become so anesthetized by the media's constant bombardment of images of brutality, war, greed, hunger and intolerance, that our interest is only grabbed by 'sexy' headlines. Such as, 'All the world's illnesses are caused by passive smoking'. Or some such balderdash.

The sad reality is that whenever there's a disaster, those of us who have access to the world's 24-hours news networks (CNN, Fox, Sky, BBC etc) are often glued to life's evolving dramas. 'News' has now metamorphosed into a ghoulish form of spectator entertainment. Not that any news channel would ever dream of manipulating events, or manufacturing 'exclusives' to boost their ratings. Not much! Indeed, some news channels are already promoting interactive polling by their viewers.

Surely, it's only a short step to:

'And today's vote, coming to you from Selective Manipulators Ltd, is 'What should we do next in Afghan/Israel/Iraq/China/North Korea/Cuba" Press:

  1. for sending the troops in
  2. attack by air
  3. naval bombardment
  4. nuke the bastards, especially if they smoke,
  5. a combination of a, b, c and d, and
  6. dispatch a team of Coca-Cola and Nicotine Patch salesmen. ‘

As some wars seem to be actively encouraged by the world's arms industry, and other self-interested groups of like-minded ghouls, why not create a new television channel appropriately called 'The War Channel'.

This is how you could set it up:

Senior politicians representing the world's leading countries - only those who have the money, army and political clout need apply - meet with their counterparts from multi-global corporations and decide that all future wars (and famines, but that could be for another cable channel franchise) would be agreed in advance in terms of:

  • The actual war zone,
  • The main protagonists,
  • An agreed number of casualties (you could limit it to say a maximum of 50,000 dead in any one smallish war, and increase it in stages to several million, for global conflict, depending on the budget and pay-per-view earnings potential),
  • Officially accepted media coverage (anything outside this would be actively discouraged, by force, if necessary)
  • And an agreed division of the spoils of such a war in terms of armaments, a post-war infrastructure rebuilding programme, etc.

Officially approved coverage would be then handled by the new television channel, which in turn could be sponsored by all those businesses, individuals and organizations that benefit from the spoils of war, such as the manufacturers of land mines, weapons, bullets, tanks, armoured helicopters, food and drink (one brand, 'Kill Them, Eat Me', for the military, another brand, 'This'll keep you barely alive after we've decimated your homeland, you poor sods'), uniforms and ambulances. You could actually have several wars going on at any one time, and an evening, or programmes, devoted to each of them, i.e. 'Afghan Hour ', 'Middle East on Monday', 'Taliban Tuesday', 'Anti-smokers' Sunday Superbowl Special'.

The War Channel and its top-rating shows could then do some merchandising deals (logo'd MASH units, camouflage clothing - 'Today's fashioned from the war of your choice', children's' toys 'Here comes Uncle Uzi and his jolly weapon', and so forth).

Lucrative deals could also be made with the Hollywood studios for a series of blockbuster movies, which in turn would be sold into the DVD, video, satellite and cable markets. All you need is a theme tune, such as the one used in 'The Longest Day', and 'The War Channel' is ready for business.

Just imagine a mini-series in which two wars break out: the sponsored 'real' conflict, and the internal ratings war (back-stabbing, character assassinations - would could in turn progress to the actual use of guns and mortars). It would be just like Hollywood, but less bloody. It's marketing campaign message, 'Don't smoke, make war.'

If I hadn't already got a Havana and single malts habit, the idea of setting up an official 'War Channel' would be more than enough to start one. And we, the poor beleaguered smokers, are already fighting a war against the born-again puritans, but nobody, yet, has managed to sell our side of the story to the studios.

I really don't fancy a job as one of this bloodthirsty channels' presenters, not even if you put a gun to my head. But hey, if anybody out there in California's La-La Land would like to see my treatment for the movie, please get in touch. You've already had, 'The Insider'. How about, 'The Outsider trilogy', in which the smokers fight back.

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