Television has an off switch remember that!

The funny things about the television is that people seem to forget the remote control. This can be used for a number of startling features including changing channels and even more radical feature, turning the device off.

Why am I rating this, well, due to the various levels of outrage over the live coverage of the hostage drama in Manila on Monday night Australian time. Like 9/11 this was uncensored TV that showed life and death in all its brutal reality. This was no Speed where Keanu would save the day, this was real people caught up in one man’s madness by being nothing more than in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Was it hard to watch, yes, did I watch it, yes I did. Was I watching as some sort of voyeur I would say no, but that may well be for others to judge.  Was it right for it to be shown on TV, that is the trickery moral question.  For me it is like “Bearing Witness”.  Albeit from the safety of my living room.

Certainly no one can argue that it was not news worthy. 25 innocent hostages on a bus with a deranged gun man wanting his job back is news worthy. Whether or not it is in Australia it was always going to be a major story. Cutting to live feed as it came through was most probably what most 24 hour news channels would do, both Sky and Abc News24 did. Sky I believe did switch to at least a 10th second delay giving them a “kill” switch if anything to horrific came through. The ABC did not.

But like 9/11 the drama unfolded live. Yet unlike the footage of the people jumping from the towers all we saw were slumped bodies and the eventually the dead body of the gun man hanging on the bus window.

Perhaps with so much life and death violence on TV we have all become desensitised to this level of violence. I think not however.  Perhaps I have more faith in humanity, but even the outrage that I saw on Twitter last night about the coverage in a strange way gave me hope.

At the end of the day though, it is still YOUR responsibility to change channels or turn off.  That power will always lie with you, not with the broadcaster.  Everyone watching it unfold knew it could be bad, if you kept watching that was your choice.

One Response to “Television has an off switch remember that!”

  1. Everyone watching it unfold knew it could be bad? Did anyone looking at all those bumbling cops with assault rifles actually think there was going to be a happy ending?
    I also watched it, I found the choice of footage confronting as the camera zoomed in on the motionless shoulder of the woman who had peeked out of the window earlier, but I agree Wolf. I do not condemn their style of coverage any more than the coverage of the 9/11 jumpers. I am still moved by it 24 hours later, and I am very glad my young daughter did not see it.

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