Inhuman television

After a long education, we’ve finally learned to experience death as a mere episode in our TV-based daily lives. We are shocked, at first, and paralyzed at the sight of the tragedy that is broadcast live on our screens. Routine, however, soon begins to heal the wound so that the distant and the alien, which, for a moment, seemed to be a part of us, again becomes distant and alien; it’s reduced to an image. This is one of the most radical and dangerous psycho-spiritual transformations – or degenerations – that our television-based civilization has forced upon us. This is what the rescue workers probably had in mind when they tried to push the television crews away from the site of the tragedy, the bridge over the Aliakmon River. Not only because they obstructed the rescue operation but also because their vulgar focus on death offered for mass consumption what must be protected as holy and confidential. «And what about informing the public?» someone will ask. Informing the public – if this was truly the principal aim – could take place in a completely different way, on the basis of different ethics and without the pressure of television ratings (all television channels rushed to superimpose their giant logos on the footage so as to claim it as an exclusive), a pressure which causes panic and makeshift solutions. Informing the public does not mean we have to turn death into a base television spectacle so as to put it on the same level as the rest, the staged shows. Informing the public does not mean insidiously mixing file footage (without the necessary indication) with original material. Nor does it mean repeatedly posing the same, crudely insensitive «How-do-you-feel?» question to people who are frightened at the fate of their loved ones or are mourning. Informing the public must not succumb to the dogma «Your tragedy is my spectacle.»