Peter M Howard ::

When Myth-Making Backfires

22Feb2006 [myth]

Was interested to see the French government and media backpedalling from their previous fear-mongering about Bird Flu. As long as the flu stayed far away it was okay to turn it into a foreign threat. (See my previous post for more on the beat-up and Othering). But now that the flu has hit France, those who were previously demonising it have to turn around and say that everything's alright and under control. Chirac sent the PM to tour a farm and eat some chicken to prove its safety; the news show detailed footage of avian vaccinations being deployed in the infected regions; they followup with details on how safe it is to eat poultry products (the flu gets killed at 70ºC!).

Suddenly the bird flu has to change from a dangerous virus ravaging foreign lands to a harmless bug, and our leaders are in control and able to protect us where foreign leaders failed protecting their own citizens.

It'll be interesting to see how the Australian media react when cases hit here. Though of course, they've had some time to change their stories, with the portrayal of the flu in Australian media being slowly toned down ever since the first cases appeared in Western Europe. Or maybe the media just got bored of that story and moved on...

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