False pretexts

When Greek television channels finally decide not to show gruesome images (because they don’t want to, not because of the threat of a fine), it is possible that the glass screens of our TV sets will crack, unused as they are to such responsible behavior. The repeated footage of the dead bodies left behind by the killers in Agrinion has little to do with informing the viewing public. The news itself – five people killed, perhaps for no serious reason – does not need to be accompanied by the images or hair-raising reports of the forensic experts in order to cause sensation and shame. And yet some reckoned that their task would be incomplete without showing the hunters’ unburied corpses – with a sadistic insistence that passes for anxious interest. Sure, they blurred the image but, even so, failed to salvage the pretext. One of the pretexts invoked by those who expose lifeless, blood-covered, scorched or decapitated bodies, or appalling images in general, is their purported intention «to shock.» That is, they claim to be practicing mass psychotherapy along homeopathic lines, bragging about their inventiveness and social responsibility. Recently, a famous TV presenter aired shots of child pornography, rehashing a motif that was first introduced into Greece’s media market many years ago when a newspaper published a woman’s slashed body on the front page: shock education. Similarly, TV channels for weeks showed mechanical diggers searching for the dead body of 11-year-old Alex Meshivili in Veria. Instead of teaching lessons on history and morality, our TV channels should get one instead.

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