Monday, February 15, 2010

When Is It Too Much?

The big controversy this week is over whether or not the news media should have aired the footage of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. Seems many people say no. Their primary reason being that it's "sick", "disrespectful", and "obscene". Personally, I'm surprised they showed it as little as they did. American news outfits are always looking for more sensational news and approaches to mundane topics. We seem to pride ourselves of following the "story" to its grisly end. Why else do we break into regular programming to follow a 3 hour car chase? Couldn't this story have been equally served as a 3-5 minute segment on the nightly news? We cover bombings and shootings and war like it's a made for TV movie, and in some ways it is. Gone are the days when news came twice a day- the paper and the evening news. Whatever you missed that day, you picked up the next. Sure, there were still special bulletins, but their infrequency helped them live up to their namesake. I can't think of anything I need to see right now.

A radio DJ this morning likened the showing of the luge footage to 9-11 (really?); more specifically the footage of people jumping from the towers. I remember that footage. I also remember that it didn't dominate the news coverage. When I think back to that morning, I know exactly where I was and what I was doing. I also know, that I don't think of those desperate people jumping as the visual for the event. I remember the people on the street, the firefighters carrying survivors, the rally of people willing to help. Somehow, I think these Olympic Games will not be remembered as the "Death Games", or for that video. Though it will certainly be mentioned in articles about the games, there are other more positive things that we, as Americans, will remember (and will be forced to remember due to American media).

How is showing the video once any worse than the exploitation that is happening now? "Luger terrified of track", "Georgian luger feared dangerous track before death". Is this supposed to make anyone feel better? Does this help the pain and suffering of his family? Does this tarnish the winter games? Knowing he was scarred is firstly, not surprising; I think you have to have a little fear to do what they do. The key to sport is to harness your fear and anxiety and use it to push yourself to succeed; and secondly, just as sick as the video.

I think the news needs to be reported. There was video and they felt a duty to show it. They voiced a disclaimer before showing the footage, and anyone upset after having watched it was fully warned, and therefore at their own fault. If other countries were showing the footage, why shouldn't we? I disagree that we are romanticizing violence and death, however; these are natural parts of life. I know that we, as a country, are slipping further and further into a pit of censorship when it seems like we should be ahead of where we were 10, 20, 60 years ago. We are too politically correct. We handle everything with kid gloves. We are afraid of reporting the truth.

The video was hard to watch. I felt as I often do watching shows in which I know people get hurt. I don't like "America's Funniest Videos" (they're not). I don't watch "Shark Week" or any of the number of reality clip shows where a guy falls off a mountain, is attacked by a bear, is run over by a car. I don't like it. It's not entertaining. I watched the clip of Kumaritashvili's fatal crash with my eyes wide open, my hands at my mouth ready to cover my face if necessary. I was thankful for a poor camera angle. I was not disturbed by watching rescue workers attend to him. I watched "er" for goodness sake. Any episode of "Grey's Anatomy" is worse. But, because this is real, we're supposed to be disgusted. What I saw were a group of people doing their job and trying their best. No one picture dominated the screen for too long; just enough to give us the idea of what happened and what it may have been like to be there. Kudos and applause to the men and woman who were on the rescue crew! I can say, video or no video; the accident left a heavy dark cloud over the sport of luge- a sport I love to watch! It was a little different watching those men race down the hill this year.

Now, I'm reading fluff liked "Man sets hugging record". Am I supposed to care?

What do you think? Should it have been shown? Why or why not? Did this tarnish your overall view/experience of the Winter Games?


  1. So you're trying to tell me that the biggest news of the weekend wasn't that Kevin Smith got kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for being "too fat"?

  2. Don't even get me started on that! According to him, the arm rests came down AND the women on either side of him had no problem. I just saw him in person, and while he is large, he's not orca fat and would have fit on any airline seat.

  3. I have mixed feelings about the luge video, mostly because I watched it and it left me feeling so uncomfortable, but I guess overall, that was my fault and the news DOES deserved to be shown. On the other hand... awwww to that dude who broke the world record for hugs. It made me want to go for the world record for kissing though...