Essay title: White Noise
In his extraordinary novel White Noise, Don DeLillo presents a scene of the technological age. A dysfunctional family of the post-1970's era, two adults and a collection of children from previous marriages, is gathered on a Friday night in front of the TV set, eating Chinese takeout. The family is entranced by the scenes of â€œfloods, earthquakes, mud slides, erupting volcanoesâ€ (Delillo, 64).The sight is all too common, but there is something especially interesting about the familyâ€™s engagement in the mediaâ€™s portrayal of adversity.Jack Gladney, the father figure and professor of Hitler studies, says â€œEvery disaster made us wish for more, for something bigger, grander, more sweepingâ€ (Delillo, 64).
He realizes this while the family is engrossed in the television.The incident bothers him, and by the next day he is looking to his university colleagues for explanations.Jack asks, â€œWhy is itâ€¦that decent, well-meaning and responsible people find themselves intrigued by catastrophe when they see it on televisionâ€ (Delillo, 65)? Why are disasters so intriguing?Why are these images ever-present? White Noise by Don Delillo is essentially a story about a disaster, â€œThe Airborne Toxic Event.
â€ Troubled by the fear of death, the novel presents our interest in disasters as an expression of concern, as an entirely natural response to dealing with thoughts of personal and collective annihilation. Jackâ€™s colleague, Alfonse Stompanato, replies to the previous question with, â€œOnly a catastrophe gets our attention.We want them, we need them, we depend on themâ€ (DeLillo, 67).DeLillo and Stompanato put disasters as a modern craving, hinting of what is now and what is to come.
Alfonse sees disasters as a break in the flow of everyday life, they grab our attention.He explains peoples interest in disasters as â€œnaturalâ€¦normalâ€¦it happens to everybodyâ€ the longing for â€œan occasional catastrophe to break up the incessant bombardment of informationâ€ (Delillo, 65).In our world of constant information, only the severe events get our attention. This, he says, is why we watch, simply for the emotional and visual impressions they make rather than for any moral significance or meaning they may possess.Disasters are common place in todayâ€™s society but, who is it exactly, that needs disasters? Essentially we, the consumers of society, need them.Disasters consume America on a daily basis.Consider entertainment today: movies, television, the nightly news, shoot-em up video games.Calamities in the media are more prevalent now than ever.Catastrophes are presented in movies like Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, Cloverfield, and the list could go on.Television is saturated with catastrophe shows, Tru Tv a network devoted to real life disaster experience, Worlds Most Amazing Videos, and the nightly news are all sources of calamity on television.America is obsessed with the fascination of other people getting hurt or the world coming to an end.It is appealing when considering why disasters rule our television screens, to single out the role of the news and entertainment.