Elements or Lower

Wed, 05 Jan 2005

Missing the BBC

The missus and I took an excellent and much-anticipated holiday to Las Vegas between Christmas and New Year. News of the Asian Tsunami was just beginning to emerge as we left, although at the time no-one in the West yet had any idea of the scale of the disaster. When we arrived in the States, we kept an eye on the TV news as best we could, Vegas existing in a weird little bubble of entertainment and gambling.

It’s little wonder that Americans have a reputation for being ill-informed about events beyond their shores, as the news coverage they get is simply dire, even on CNN. Reports focussed intently on the stories of individual American families being reunited with people they’d worried had been lost, and opinion pieces on “could it happen here” — further confirmation of the culture of fear choking the nation.

When we returned to the UK, it took ten minutes with News 24 for us to get properly acquainted with the extent of the situation, the mechanics of the tsunami, the differing cultures of the regions involved, the Buddhist attitude towards suffering and the religious context for other groups, and the sincerity of people’s reactions to it all. There’s a great deal I love about the US, and I adore holidays there (US-VISIT notwithstanding) — but I swear that TV here is just better in all respects. Even TV of US origin is better viewed over here, by dint of a substantially less infuriating programme/advertising ratio.

Incidentally, at least while we were there, the Tsunami Asian Bar and Grill at The Venetian, had precisely no visible acknowledgement of the sudden tastelessness of their name. It’s possible, since we didn’t dine there, that they were quietly donating 10% of their proceeds to an aid fund without an extravagant announcement to the effect. But somehow, Vegas being Vegas, I rather doubt it.