Tropes of the Theatrical in Media Representations of the War in Ukraine
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AbstractThere is a theatricality to the narrative of war as it is presented in the media. News media is a mediating factor between reality and its reception. Through this process, meaning is lost and created while different perspectives are applied, incidents are narrated, and characters are developed. This research will look at the news coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine, which started in 2022, and discusses how this presentation creates an Aristotelian ‘spectacle’ in the news. Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin are the main actors in this ‘play’, and this ‘theater of war’ revolves around these two characters' actions and words. Drawing on Jonas A. Barish, I will argue that the two characters' leaderships contain elements of mimicry and self-manifestation. I will also discuss the metatheatricality of their presence in media in that Zelenskyy and Putin are themselves two political actors that direct the war between the two countries. Elements of absurdism and escapism are present in the news narrations of the war in Ukraine in a way that the literal absurdity and escape can be viewed symbolically when the war is presented as a spectacle which also provides content for the audience of the news to escape to. The symbols and their references add to the layers of interpretation of the spectacle that news media creates of this war. This research also focuses on the display of violence in the media, comparing war with a wrestling competition as different embodiments of violence in the media and the way news media uses both of these spectacles in news reports of the war in Ukraine.
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