Breaking News: It’s Time For Your Daily Dose Of Paranoia

Breaking News

I don’t often watch the news but I am a very paranoid person. How do these two relate? To quote Aunty Uji in Americanah, “If you keep watching television, you will think these things happen all the time. Do you know how much crime happens in Nigeria? Is it because we don’t report it like they do here?” (140). This quote specifically references the paranoid behavior Ifemelu begins to exhibit after coming to America, more specifically after she is exposed to a heavy dose of American news. Upon reading this quote, it got me thinking about how plausible it is that paranoia stems from the news Americans are subject to everyday. Robberies, kidnappings, murders, the works. It’s around us, all the time, practically shouted from the rooftops. It’s almost impossible not to be subject to some of the crime and negativity the news stations rave about.

crime scene

I think it’s interesting that crime-something that isn’t specific to only America-isn’t as heavily broadcast-ed in other countries as it is here. Ifemelu mentions prior to the talk with Aunty Uju that she was used to seeing militarial broadcasts occupying the Nigerian news station, which gets me thinking. Obviously news reports depend on the area in which they are located, but does the location also affect which news is presented? Like in America it’s all crime stories but in other countries it’s more military focused or stuff like that?

That would make sense, especially if censorship is involved. When I think of censorship in the media, I specifically think of China because I remember learning about Tiananmen Square and realizing that almost no one in present day China knew anything about these series of protests and this massacre that had taken place almost thirty years ago. And then, with that comes the inevitable question of what the American government is hiding from us.


Overall, the whole concept that the American broadcasting system is somewhat responsible for widespread paranoia opens a million others doors regarding censorship and government secrets and I completely understand why Adichie chose to include this in Americanah because it truly exemplifies something that is very prevalent in American society that might not stretch to many other countries. The whole idea is an invitation to really consider the mechanics of mass media in America.

That’s it for now.


1 thought on “Breaking News: It’s Time For Your Daily Dose Of Paranoia”

  1. If we look back to the fifties, one figure would stand out as the pinnacle of encouraging and creating mass paranoia for his own agenda. That man would be Joseph McCarthy. His tactics created a massive Red Scare that lasted for years after his own accusations had been determined false. The paranoia his rampant calls created resembles the very paranoia most Americans feel today. Just as McCarthy sought to get famous for calling out the various supposed communists, today’s news outlets feel the same pressure. They all compete to get the most views and visitors by creating sensationalist headlines and stories. Some, such as Fox News, deliberately lie to get their viewers riled up. This has exacerbated a new kind of McCarthyism, Islamophobia and hate for immigrants. Trump, Fox and Breitbart have all accused and blamed them for any number of tragedies and problems, similar to how McCarthy blamed the communists for all kind of crimes. This has created a similar crisis in America. Many whites in America are now suspicious of the Muslims that have lived across the street for years. Suddenly they are hostile to immigrants they see walking down the street, calling “Go Back Home” to any that look foreign. The Americans have placed blame, without warrant, on these groups for such things as stealing jobs or all of terrorism. Paranoia has consumed this country, not only for normal crimes but pitting white Americans vs the supposed “other” who they blame for every mistake.
    Censorship is a problem equally as large. The pure truth is nay impossible to come by, all of it censored, with purpose or by simple biases. How can we trust a government that calls any news they dislike “Fake News?” We live in a world where the people pick and choose their own truths from the immutable truths given to them. Outside censorship and internal censorship are rampant.
    In a world such as this, it only makes sense that Ifemelu is paranoid. Paranoia against a world hostile to her because of her skin color and hair is natural. In a world where institutionalized racism thrives, and even in this day grows due to censorship and McCarthyism, she is only right to watch her back.


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