It was a boring day in Boston back in 1993 that I found myself at the central public library on Boylston. I was admiring the architecture of the building in the large lobby when I suddenly found myself face to face with a large life-sized photograph of combat. There was a photojournalism exhibit there that day and the pictures were shocking. I realized that I hadn't seen anything so graphic in a very long time.
It reminded me that whatever I might think of Boston there were certainly worse places to be. And it also reminded me that all of the media we consume, very little of it sticks. We are addicted to a certain level of 'realism' that is less real than it seems.
I've had a couple opportunities to remind people in conversation over the past week or so that American journalistic standards, unlike those in South America, do not allow pictures of dead bodies. Go ahead. Try to find one. And just last night, I was watching several comics on Netflix and one of them made that familiar remark about how much violence we allow kids to watch on television, and how little sex we do. But if you were an NBA fan, you surely saw the video of Rajan Rondo getting his elbow dislocated, and you cringed. That's the kind of violence that you never see in all of our media. The simple fact is that we have been exposed to a lot, but within some margins. No you haven't seen it all.
Here at the blog I recall several incidents that the media went close to a limit and the blogosphere went over the edge.Firstly there was the Nick Berg video, the poor fellow who was beheaded by jihadists went around the net like wildfire. I refused to publish it or even watch it where it was published. Then there was that maniac who went on a shooting spree at Virginia Tech. There was something awfully sick about 'Richard McBeef' the screenplay he was writing. This morning I found a link to a video taken in Syria showing people shot down in the streets. It immediately reminded me of the lost art of photojournalism of the sort I think we could all benefit from: War TV.
War TV is just that. A new channel on your lineup, in HD, documenting conflicts around the world 24/7. Forget the fake six o'clock news mantra 'If it bleeds, it leads' and show what real war looks like.
When you show some idiot cracking his nuts from a fall off a skateboard onto a handrail, you generally have to have a disclaimer 'dont try this at home'. When you show somebody's head smacking the pavement after having been shot with an automatic rifle, the warning is superfluous. Slapstick is what it is, and so is brutality. If we showed enough of War TV, our regular instincts would jump in and we would not need the editorial so much.
Just the other week, a girl fight in a McDonalds had the chatting classes afire with a thousand opinions, clustered into three categories. But wasn't that a waste of bandwidth, or testimony to how civilized we actually are over here in the States? I tend to believe the latter and I do so by keeping our mortality stats in mind.
War TV. It will be coming.