Thursday, April 19, 2007

And another thing...

It's funny - I think I come off as an oddball eccentric at times at work, and yesterday I once again felt the one out, but for all the wrong reasons.
It's been absurd the past few days the amount of news and general talk time given to the man in the US who shot all those people. It pains me to even talk about it, as I am, by doing so, perpetuating the story, but I have to comment after a discussion I had yesterday.

In the lunch room the topic was, of course, the shooting, any "new" details (none) and how it was all over the TV and even (sigh) the front page of out local paper. I was quietly eating my lunch and not trying to be involved, when someone commented on how they were glad that the judges of American Idol were brave enough to offer their condolences to the families and people in the town.

My jaw dropped, and "WHAT?" slipped out of my mouth...and the floodgates opened...I couldn't hold it in any longer.

I then actually had to debate with my coworkers (who are intelligent and well thought out people) as to why it is not the role of social figures to perpetuate fake tragedy news like this and comment upon it. Yes it was a live to tape broadcast right after it happened. IT. DOESN'T. MATTER. A tragedy to the families and town involved perhaps, but why does this necessitate public figures to comment upon it...why should anyone care what they think? Why are we suddenly interested in how the people involved will deal with the situation and how the families of the shooter and victims are coping? Why do we want to know what the shooter did, what he looked like, his favorite music, what he wrote on the internet...what his "manifesto" and photos he took of himself that he sent to various press organizations before the shooting are? This man was sick, and deserves no fame. No glory. No justification...and he should not be the fodder for our insipid need for grotesque entertainment. Reality TV is becoming the news...and unfortunately people are beginning to take their fascination with the "grisly crime of the week" shows and carrying it over into real life. If this happened on the campus where I worked I would be disgusted at all this. The shooter was a sick man who did a horrible thing. By making him news and glorifying what he's done are we not perpetuating the myth and glorifying him, even as a "bad man"?

I've always had the opinion that my commentary on pointless non-news things like Paris Hilton and other things which are in our culture that I fail to understand as relevant is to not discuss them. To not perpetuate the continual discussion of these people to keep them in the news.
Sure I understand wanting to know why someone would do this, and how someone would just decide to go and trap and shoot a lot of people and then themselves. I can't see it. No one can. Why? Because we're not mentally ill...and we can't make ourselves better by dwelling on hate and horrible acts of senseless cruelty.

I'm not telling you all to go out and ignore the cruelty of life and sit around hugging bunnies all day but honestly - when a suicide bomber hits yet another public place in Iraq or Afghanistan is their photo all over the world? Do we want to know what the had for breakfast and what their opinion on the latest issues are? Do we call up their families or talk to the victims families about how they arer coping? Largely (thank goodness) no...and why is the deaths of *those* others so insignificant? Why do I get the impression that we in North America now feel that there are those that live in Iraq "used" to this kind of thing? That it's no longer worth reporting when the victims are different from us, caused by "terrorists" or people in a culture we just don't understand. It's not a movie - it's real life. And it's terrible...something that, to me, personifies the concept of of "evil" in a real and tangible way.

Gah. I could go on and on about this, but it would get me nowhere. I hope there is some intelligent discussion about this. That people start to question just what is important. Why? Well, just yesterday while all this news crap was going on I was working to help diagnose a small person with cancer...and that put it in perspective for me right then and there. There are things that matter and things that do not. Life and happiness and love are not abstract things and when we lose focus of what matters and entertain ourselves with the misery of others we become somehow less as a culture and as a community.

Whew...better go have some coffee and settle down I think. Just had to get that off my chest.
*picks up soap box and bimbles off...*


Magnus said...

It's been like this for a while. When Marc Lepine struck at École Polytechnique, my Dad remembers a reporter asking one of the men released from the classroom: "How did you feel when you saw him pull out the gun?"
My Dad still re-enacts his response whenever he hears the same question: "How the F.k do you think he/she is goning to feel, you moron! This is journalism?" ad infinitum.
Unfortunately, yellow journalism has become the norm. Sensationalism and scandals drive sales, so the public is as much to blame as the media.

Corey said...

Two (long) points:

Having worked in the news I know that that journalism is a lose term. Its now all about ratings. News use to be a right-off, lose money to give information. Now you sensationalism instead of investigation, and journalist have been replaced with announcers. News is now entertainment. "If it bleeds it leads" has more impacted now than ever before. All news stations are hooked up to electronic media feeds where they literally pull the same news stories off a server that feeds all of North America. Then they change a few words on the supplied script to make it their own. That is journalism today.

Yearly 2.5 million people die in the States. Thats 6850 people each day. Roughly 30,000 die by hand guns and another 30,000 die by suicide yearly. That is 82 + 82 every day. So where are their stories? When will Simon Cowell acknowledge those families on his TV show. Is one death or life more significant than another? The media makes us think so. We seem to agree by eating it up.

I am sure as treads go, that these poor victims will be called "heroes" for some reason or another. The news reported that all the victims will be given degrees posthumously of course - because it makes the university look good. It is sad how their deaths will be exploited by so many for attention or ratings.

And finally lets have some sympathy for the poor bastard that committed this crime. Yes sympathy. How sad, empty, painful, lost, and lonely this guy's existence must have been to drive him to do such a terrible deed. No one should have to live that life. But we won't hear that story in the news.

Magnus said...

thing I will note about this Cho's lonley existence seems curiously similar to a friend's little brother who is under observation for a schizo-affective disorder.
Talking heads will gas on endlessly while the story is still useful currency and then it fades away along with the issues behind the story. Then another shooting happens...