Thursday, September 22, 2005

I'm watching my possible death on TV! Lucky me!

After making it through a quick hike along the Potomac yesterday, I came home to feed my empty stomach and take it easy the rest of the night. Well, I made the mistake of actually viewing one of the bogus all-news channels (I mistyped the channel I wanted) and saw an airplane. I really thought nothing of it. Maybe it was the President flying home, or some military official landing at Andrews AFB. Oh silly me, it wasn't something as nice as an expected peaceful event. Nope, the only reason CNN, FNC, MSNBC, or any other news organization would air something live, such as an airplane landing, is when it's an anticipated violent event. An airplane's front landing gear malfunctioned, shortly after taking off from Long Beach Airport, with its front tires turned to the side. Don't worry, the news directors didn't get their wish of a fireball, since it landed safely without any injuries to the 146 passengers and crew.

What good does it serve the public to view an airplane, live, as it gets ready to possibly explode and kill about 150 people in the process? Every TV news executive feels the need to prove how sadistic they are, so if there's a chance that an image will be so horrifying that it will be permanently ingrained in the viewer's mind, well, they had better jump on that chance or else lose their job. This was a Jetblue flight which offers 24 DirecTV channels, meaning the passengers could see their flight on TV, as it circled to dump fuel, and attempt a dangerous landing. What about relatives and friends of the passengers...what could they have been thinking? The airplane's TVs weren't turned off until a few minutes before landing. I'm still not sure if they should have been turned off earlier. There's a reason you don't see airplane disaster movies on cross-country flights.

But seriously, it must have been an out of body experience to watch your possibly doomed flight make its approach, while talking heads got hot and bothered when asked about what was about to happen. One passenger said he was happy to have a back row seat because a commentator said if the plane crashes, it'll be the front section that would breakoff in a ball of fire. For the record, I quickly changed channels after seeing what every channel was covering. However, I was curious what happened to the plane (not as it was happening though) so I tuned back just as it was landing. Upon which I saw the flames from the landing gear so I quickly went back to what I was watching. It's rare for me to checkout the news channels because I despise them and they're also deleted from my list of channels, so I don't have to worry about coming across them when I'm looking for something to watch.

I know I tuned back to see what happened (notice: after the event occurred) because it is a news event, but not because I wanted to see destruction and death. Was there really a need to see this event live? What about other instant impact events over the last few years that feed the media's (and public's) appetite for shock? Just where and how is the line drawn when determining if some real-reality TV is too hot for TV. Suppose news directors and executive got wind of the events on 9/11 about 15 minutes before their you think they'd go to a live feed and show everyone what was about to occur? The ratings sure would be as great as the event was horrifying. As for me, I'll only lower myself to the all-news channels AFTER an instant impact event occurs.

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