Culture of Death Watch: Death as Entertainment

This seems to be an ongoing theme here suddenly. But, gosh, it’s all around us.

Remember the old ABC Wide World of Sports opener? How it was kind of controversial that they showed that skier wiping out? (He survived, suffering only a concussion and a distinct lack of abandon in his subsequent jumps.) I remember being a little freaked out when I was a kid, but my father told me the skier was okay – he walked away!
Caution of this kind – showing sporting accidents only when the athlete survived, even if injured – is now officially gone.
Earlier today, a luger from the country of Georgia died in an accident. (Warning: Images of the accident are in the video on the link, but it will not play automatically.) He came around the last curve of the track, lost control, and hit a steel beam at nearly 90 MPH. God rest his soul, he was worked on at the track and on the way to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The images shown at the ESPN story linked above are nothing, though, compared with what I was greeted with when our family – including our 11 and 8 year old daughters – tuned in to the Olympics at 7:30 PM EST. First story up, naturally, is about the death. But not content with showing the already-disturbing-enough photos of him going over the wall towards the beams, NBC made the decision to show the actual video footage – not once, not twice, but at least THREE TIMES – and then follow that up with pictures of the EMT’s working on him, blood and all.
And so the death of another human being – a real person with real family and friends – becomes entertainment for gawkers.
But that mentality isn’t really all that new, is it?
I could not let NBC just do this without saying something. And everyone who is offended (which, I hope, is everyone who watched) should tell them so, too. DO NOT BE SILENT.
Here’s my email to the NBC Olympics department:

I want to make an official complaint about your opening coverage of the Olympic Games on Friday, February 12, beginning at 7:30 PM EST. I tuned in with my family, which includes our two young daughters who are 11 and 8, only to be greeted by multiple showings of the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. The decision to not just discuss the death, which is certainly newsworthy, but to actually show video footage of his accident and the attempts to resuscitate him were simply beyond the pale. First of all, and most importantly, the man who died is someone’s son, brother, cousin, friend … a real live person with real live family members who very well could have seen the video. Secondly, there are millions of families who tune into the Olympics to watch family-friendly entertainment. What parent wants their children exposed to such horrific scenes? What parent wishes to see it himself?

I am utterly disgusted that you chose to air this footage not once, but at least three times, right at the beginning of the program when families are most likely watching together. And honestly, airing it at all shows not only a total lack of taste but a complete lack of regard for Kumaritashvili and his family and friends.

Whoever was the final decision-maker for airing this footage needs to be reprimanded or fired for displaying such a complete lack of judgement. I sincerely hope that you not only discipline whoever made the decision, but also offer some kind of apology to your viewers, as well as his family and friends.


Christine ***********

************, VA

Want to make a complaint to NBC about the Olympic opening coverage? Send them an e-mail. If no one complains, they won’t stop there. That kind of coverage will continue, and can only get worse.
[image sources: gladiators, Christian martyrs]

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