Essay: The Reality Is Always Worse

Two days after The Day After, the Public Broadcasting Service showed a film that was strikingly similar and strikingly different: Cambodia and Laos, the ninth installment of its seemingly interminable history of the Viet Nam War. Compared with the 100 million people who watched the imaginary bombing of Lawrence, Kans., only a minuscule number watched the real bombing of Cambodia. The press, which devoted large headlines to The Day After, lost Cambodia in a kind of time warp. Since TV shows get covered when they start, the Viet Nam series had been widely...

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