The success of terrorism: Natalie Portman explains


If you thought watching a Hollywood blockbuster is entertainment only, you are wrong. Some of Hollywood’s best masterpieces are able to entertain and unfold social issues. The production of the movie Vox Lux is one of that kind. Although Vox Lux has multiple political-, psychological-, social- and historical components that make the story interesting, the true impact of Vox Lux lies in the dialogue explaining the success of terrorism.


The situation


During an interview a journalist askes pop-star Celeste: ‘What have a pop-star and a terrorist in common?’ Celeste –magnifically played by Natalie Portman- answers:


‘If you give both no attention, they disappear, they don’t exist anymore’.



The words are right on the spot. This line is sharper than a knife. The point is clearly made.


The dialogue is perfectly part of the movie. Celeste is an overconfident, glamorous pop star. She survived a school shooting as a teenager and becomes a world phenomenon after performing at the memorial. Years later similar mask of Celeste’s show will be used during a terrorist attack in Croatia.

Terrorism and attention are the damaging parts of Celeste as a person. She transforms into a pop star that has made her career of her survival. Now she lives by the attention, she craves it; her whole career is based on it, not to say her whole personality. The media has become her main reference point.


In the dialogue, the journalist gives a stage to the one who seeks attention to make a living of it: pop star Celeste.


Celeste knows perfectly how to manipulate this stage to gain fame for her qualities. She realises her existence depends on the stage she is given by the journalist.


Indeed it’s twofold: the media decides who gets a stage. On stage are the ones who are the best in the game.  On the other side, there are the ones who are in search of attention, in need for a stage to get that attention: pop-stars, influencers, even politicians and yes terrorists.



Like Natalie Portman says it: terrorists need their audience to exist, like pop stars



So why terrorists?


Terrorists need their audience because every act of terrorism is only successful because of its reaction. Terrorism’s goal is to destabilize, to make an enemy weak and to grow in power. Not the amount of deaths. Read more about this here: 3 essential facts about terrorism you should know. If a lot of people are impressed by terrorism, these people change their behaviour based on emotions like fear and anger and the goal of destabilisation is more easily accomplished.


The attention, reactions and the manipulation of emotions are the biggest parts of the success of terrorism


To make the point clear


Some expamples: for sure IS was front-page news when they kidnapped journalists, dressed them in orange coloured clothes, placed them in front of a camera, said their political messages, beheaded them and broadcasted the video online.

The same is true for the bombings in public areas and meaningful places like 9/11 and the Madrid bombings. The impact on society is huge: fear of public places and anger to all who are associated with the possible terrorist. For sure headlines for days will be guaranteed.

As in the movie Vox Lux: for sure massive attention was guaranteed for the terrorists by using similar masks like one of the biggest pop stars of the moment. It would gain attention and get the stage they wanted.


The success of terrorism would have been different if it didn’t get massive attention in the media.


No doubt that is in no way a solution, even unethical to do so. But for sure the way terrorism plays with emotions gives them the highest guarantee to get media attention and subsequently the success of their actions.


Important is to be aware of the fact that it doesn’t matter for media attention if the emotion is negative or positive, as long as it’s a strong emotion. The ‘star’ who are able to master the game to manipulate those emotions the best is the winner. That is their talent. For a pop star, it would be singing and for a terrorist, it would be ways to destabilize.


Point is: fame is dependent on the audience.


Like pop star Celeste wouldn’t have a career if she weren’t given a stage. So it is for terrorism. If their audience wouldn’t be impressed by their way of acting they wouldn’t have success. Media gives a stage for those who can do that the best, and those who know how to that the best are the ones are know how to play with emotions.


Indeed like Natalie Portman says it: pop-stars and terrorist stop to exist if you don’t give them attention. Attention is the oxygen for those who want to make an impact.

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