The Big Think

August 3, 2007

Disaster Porn

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:50 am

Once again Lileks hits it on the nose:

You know what? I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt want to hear the screams from inside the bus. I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt want to hear someone?��Ǩ�Ѣs kid shrieking in panic, begging her mom to come save her. Why would I?

This is the point in the story where we start to debate what?��Ǩ�Ѣs news, and what?��Ǩ�Ѣs just disaster-pr0n. I?��Ǩ�Ѣm not making the comparison here, because they?��Ǩ�Ѣre different events in every way. But nothing about 9/11 hit me as hard as the memorial wall on Grand Central Station, a collection of all the fliers and MISSING posters people had stuck up at the site after the Twin Towers were destroyed. They were mute, handmade pleas, and believe it or not, they didn?��Ǩ�Ѣt need a voice over that said ?��Ǩ?�for now the family sits and waits, wondering what the news will be?��Ǩ�� or whatever generic tag gets slapped at the end of the grieving-survivor boilerplate story.

I understand why they do those stories, but I have a hard time watchng them. I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt want to wonder if the cameraman?��Ǩ�Ѣs wondering how close he should go on the face to get the tears, because on one hand this person is experiencing great private grief, but on the other hand the light is hitting that teardrop just perfectly. Mostly I want them to leave the people alone. I don?��Ǩ�Ѣt need to be told what they?��Ǩ�Ѣre feeing. I can guess.

I’d have a hard time- a moral dilemma, really- working sound for a tv news camera crew. This is a big reason we gave up TV- all the gratuitous emotion-mongering that masquerades as “reporting”. So just don’t watch it you say? I think they get a bigger message when we don’t pay to subsidize it.

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