Gansu Landslide - Day of Mourning
Saturday night I was in my apartment watching Terminator Salvation on HBO Asia (which never seems to be able to sync the audio with the video, causing a sensation that you are watching an English movie dubbed in English) and just as John Conner was saving his father and the future of the world… all of a sudden the screen switched to the above message. After reading the message a few times I flipped through the channels to see what was being shown on other stations. Most China mainland stations had switched their programming to the CCTV 1 news broadcast about the Gansu landslides. A few channels (Taiwan’s Phoenix channels and some Hong Kong channels) continued with their own news broadcast and only one channel (Discovery) seem to avoid the whole thing altogether and continued with its regularly scheduled programming (sounds like something said at the end of an extra innings baseball broadcast or awards show, eh?). HBO Asia was on hiatus for the full 24 hours while most of the other channels used the hours to show tamed down versions of their entertainment shows, switching to news stories throughout the day.
Other forms of mourning were also shown throughout the country. Flags flew at half mast at all official buildings. All forms of public entertainment, even at the World Expo in Shanghai, were suspended. Also, the front pages of newspapers and major websites were removed of all color.
I like the idea of paying this sort of tribute to victims of the Gansu’s landslide. I cannot remember a time in the US when all “entertainment” channels are turned off to pay tribute. The closest thing I can think of is when the major networks switch programming to Presidential debates, Presidential addresses or white Broncos speeding down a California interstate. Too often we pay no attention to the world around us. It has become too easy to switching on the television and become lost in a fictitious wartime struggle of man against robots when we have real life wars and struggles against tragedy happening around us. If anything the suspension of entertainment television did point my attention to the people of northwest China who have been affected by this tragedy. If that was the purpose then it worked in my case. It worked at least until later the following day when I went to the gym to produce my own form of basketball entertainment, when during the first game I rolled my ankle (which is now officially a fankle and propped up on some pillows with ice attached). I guess I deserved it. Now I have about a week to heal and think about the landslide disaster.
For those of you with not so much time on your hands…. Take a look at some of these images of the damage experienced by your neighbors.
FYI, I did not take these photos. They are from a great little photo blog run by the Boston Globe.