I didn’t see it
For more than fourteen years in Japan I have been getting almost all of my news through the print media - newspapers and magazines. Video coverage on Japanese television news shows is pahetic abominable, as I have written before leaving me to feel that I am at a visual disadvantage.
Japanese alternately are great fans of technology - especially if it is cute and useless, like a small robot dog - and not. In television news broadcasting they prefer the low-tech human touch. In weather news, for example, instead of using computer graphics maps they use hand-held maps and hand-held pointers to point to things. The same is true with graphs and charts presenting statistics and data. It is more than ridiculous, and a grossly inefficient way to transfer that information to viewers. When it comes to video coverage of news they prefer to focus the camera on the on-the-site reporter rather than on the events happening behind him that he is talking about. In the television studio, Japanese prefer serious-faced talking heads and only use the shortest video clips imaginable to illustrate the stories. Finally, Japanese are notorious for focusing on the Japanese connection to any foreign news. To a point this is understandable. But many foreigners feel that the news culture here motivates Japanese to ignore world events completelyunless there are Japanese involved. So I am left to get all of my news from the print media, and from the American Armed Forces Far East Network (FEN) radio station.
Consequently, I feel that I have missed out on a lot. To begin with, I never saw any video coverate of the Tiananmen Squareincident in Beijingin June 1989. None whatsoever. Next, I have not seen a space shuttle launch since the 1980s. I know about the International Space Station, but I have never seen any photographs or videos of it. I never saw video footage of the Space Shuttle disintegrating in the sky high above Texas. I have not seen an American presidential debate since 1988 (with Michael Dukakis), and the presidency of Bill Clinton is known to me only through the printed word. I never saw a news conference or a speech of his, or of Al Gore, or even of George W. Bush. The last Ameican president I know from television is George H. Bush, who followed Ronald Reagan and preceded Bill Clinton. I completely missed out on O.J. Simpson’s attempt to escape police with his slow drive along Los Angelesfreeways, and I saw nothing of his subsequent murder trial. I almost completely missed out on the first Gulf War in Kuwait, and the same with the second Gulf War in Iraq. I have never seen any video of American soldiers, tanks and trucks moving through the deserts of Saudi Ariaia, Kuwait, and Iraq, or through the streets of Bagdad. I have never seen video coverage of burning Kuwaiti oil fields, of the aftermath of terrorist suicide bombings, or of American “smart bombs” zeroing in on individual buildings and bridges. I only ever saw still photographs of the Los Angeles race riots following the initial aquital of four white policemen in the vieotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King. I have seen Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s face in photographs, but I have not yet heard the sound of his voice or seen his moving image on video or film. I knew Jean Cretien, but never as Prime Minister. My last visual and aural expereinces of him date from his failed leadership battle with John Turner for control of the Liberal caucus - twenty years ago!
I have not seen an Academy Awards show since the mid-1980s. I have never seen a‘reality TV’ show, and I saw almost nothing of the Olympics in 1992 (Barcelona), 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney), and 2004 (Athens). Most recently, I did not get to see Janet Jackson’s breast. I did manage to see one of the two hijacked aircraft fly into the World TradeCenter towers in New York City on September 11, 2001 on live TV just by chance. I had just tuned into the the 10:00 p.m. NHK bilingual evening news which happened to coincide precisely with the 9/11 terrorism. But I saw nothing of the aftermath in New Yorkor the rest of America. I only read about it is all.
Of course, I know about all of these things and more because I read the newspaper. Simply reading the newspaper means that I am more familiar with current events than most other foreigners I know who use - and (vacuously) boast about using - the Internet for everything. If I had access to the Internet (which I do not because of configuration problems inside my computer) I could get more current visual information. But one thing is certain - that my unfamiliarity with the daily visual diet that Canadians and Americans take for granted always puts me in an odd, and sometimes uncomfortable pair of cultural shoes whenever I travel back to Canada. People in Canada look at my face and naturally assume that I share the same visual experiences of daily life that they do. You never can tell about a person based only on their face, or on how they look.