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Shame and a sin

I can't count the number of times when, while skipping through the television channels, I've come across one of those half-hour or hour-long programs that are extended news stories about murders.

There is no enlightenment, no personal growth to be gained from watching these programs. They serve no greater good. They do not improve us as a society. Certainly this could be said about any number of television programs, books, movies, songs, etc., but the disturbing thing about these programs is that they exploit real tragedy and real human misery for the purposes of entertainment. The people appearing in those programs—criminals, victims and relatives on all sides—are not actors. They are real people afflicted by crushing, cruel fate. A parade of ruined lives flickers across the TV screen.

How anyone can watch those shows with a clear conscience is beyond me.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
charon117
Mar. 29th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
They've gotten so good at selling the misery that when it's advertised, you almost want to believe you HAVE to see it.

It only lasts a moment, at least for me, but I'm sure the faux-educational value appeals to some. Or at least allows them to justify a viewing.
patrick_vecchio
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
"Selling the misery." You say a lot in those three words.
nodressrehersal
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
But, do they all exploit tragedy or are some people involved in said tragedy exploiting themselves by participating- selling the rights to their stories, agreeing to be interviewed, re-enacting the scenes, etc.

I think it goes hand in hand with the explosion of reality tv shows and people looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, no matter how ill-gotten.

Little Miss Perfect - a show about kid beauty pageants - I was bored/curious enough to watch part of a segment yesterday. It's creepy, the whole industry, right down to the salacious host who sang a smarmy song. It was exactly like in the movie Little Miss Sunshine, only it was real.
thenightfly5150
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
I second this. Little Miss Perfect is a bizarre show, and it's quite unsettling.
nodressrehersal
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
I know, I felt like a thruway-accident rubbernecker that just couldn't not look. Unsettling is the perfect word - for the show AND for the fact that I watched some of it.
patrick_vecchio
Mar. 29th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
But, do they all exploit tragedy or are some people involved in said tragedy exploiting themselves by participating- selling the rights to their stories, agreeing to be interviewed, re-enacting the scenes, etc.

That's hard to say. I just wish there weren't an audience for these shows so it wouldn't happen. But reality shows are cheap, quick and easy to make, so I doubt they're going to go away any time soon.
lizardqueen
Mar. 29th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
Reality shows are cheap indeed, in more ways than one. I can't imagine the kind of person who gets off on these festering, pestilential, exploitative crime shows...or, not quite as bad perhaps, the kind of idiot who enjoys "funny moments" that involve pain, embarrassment or clumsiness.

But then I'm Virgo rising, and find quite a lot distasteful.

Oh, and I have never rubbernecked in my life.

Edited at 2009-03-29 09:53 pm (UTC)
nodressrehersal
Mar. 30th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
Thankfully, it was only at a tv show and done from the safety of my own bed, so no actual accident victims were rubbernecked in the making of that comment.
nokomisjeff
Mar. 29th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
It says a lot about society that a market can exist for such shows. However, the people who make those stupid shows, and the people who watch them do have a right to do so. As much as I hate those shows, censoring them would open up a can of worms that I would prefer to remain closed.

Jeff
patrick_vecchio
Mar. 29th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
I agree on all counts.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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