I was at the Parents Television Council press conference in the Edward R. Murrow Room of the National Press Club watching a grainy clip reel with bad sound of some pretty disturbing primetime TV violence.
And speaking of Murrow, did you know that the Silver Batons (designed by architectural icon Louis I. Kahn) that are handed out by the DuPont-Columbia folks this Saturday are inscribed with this famous Murrow quote, now more famous thanks to George Clooney: "This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."
Make that piano wire cutting into the hands of a victim and a flashlight revealing a severed human head in a box.
Anyway, PTC was issuing a report on prime time violence. I am not on the group's Christmas Card list if its recent writings about me are any indication, but I do see where they are coming from, as my violence musings here before atest.
But that is not the intent of this piece. Instead, I want to talk about seeing more violence, not less. I want to know why we can see the most horrific violence in entertainment TV, the most voyeuristic gore imaginable, some even unimaginable, while in newscast, which have an even higher bar for editing out the disturbing stuff, the industry seems squeamish about showing the casualties of real violence in, say Darfur, or when Rwanda was being hacked to pieces, or when our own and other friends or sons or daughters or countrymen and women are dying valiantly in Iraq.
For some reason, entertainment departments have plenty of stomache for incredibly realistic blood and gore, while news departments shield us from the real thing, or at least it seems that way to me.
If news organizations start showing us more of what we are doing and is being done to us, we can gauge whether our appetite for pretend mayhem has desensitized us to the real thing or not, one of the claims PTC makes.
Our news is like a PG version of an R reality. Body counts by no bodies, Video of people shooting at each other but not getting shot, and craters in the street that used to be Iraqi families.
Am I wrong?
By John Eggerton