the point where americans draw the line

Every now and then, the corporate media in America push the envelope too far. About six months ago, that happened when Fox tried to bring a book by OJ Simpson to market in which he told, in detail, how he took the lives of two human beings. When the American people heard the details, they demanded the books be destroyed. Well, something very similar happened yesterday, as a result of the media orgy brought on by the discovery of videos showing Cho Seung-Hui, the architect of the Virginia Tech massacre, talking about his big plans. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who reacted badly to the forced exposure. (I should point out that I was in a public place when it hit the airwaves and there was no turning it off. For an hour, I was trapped at my table, soaking up a constant stream of the killer’s voice and face, interspersed with ads for SUVs and prescription drugs.) The complaints started rolling in, demanding a reprieve. NBC, who first started the escalating war of Cho saturation, took the brunt of the backlash.

The suits at NBC, once they became tired of justifying their actions, agreed to stop the heavy rotation. In part it had to do with the growing public sentiment that it wasn’t right to give this killer such an incredibly huge podium, but there were other, more practical concerns. The family members of victims were refusing to appear on NBC’s Today Show. The network, having milked the videos for over 12 hours, decided that they’d made enough advertising revenue from it, and they backed off, trying to make it look like a noble gesture. The other networks followed suit.

It’s good to know that the American people have a limit. I wish it wasn’t quite so far out, but it’s good to know that it’s there.

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6 Comments

  1. ol' e cross
    Posted April 20, 2007 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    The families refusing to air is huge for me. It’s the most effectively defiant act against big news media I can recall. Obviously, I don’t think they calculated it to bring about some big social change here, but if it gives others some sense that they don’t have any choice but to comply with the media that hounds and exploits their suffering, it would be a great shift.

  2. mark
    Posted April 20, 2007 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Of course, after the tapes of Cho stopped rolling, all the families started filing back in to the Today Show studios ready to tell their tearful stories. From a shareholder’s perspective, NBC played it exactly right.

  3. It's Skinner Again
    Posted April 21, 2007 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I hear there’s a big sign up at Virginia Tech: “Media Stay Away.” I hope they do.

    I refuse to own a TV, so I’ve been spared the Cho-fest. I did read one of his plays; it struck me as less violent than most Hollywood movies. We are a very sick society.

  4. egpenet
    Posted April 21, 2007 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Why are Koreans shamed and apologizing to us? It’s OUR culture that has corrupted their children (as we’ve corrupted out own). We should be apologizing to Korea!

  5. Hillary
    Posted April 22, 2007 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I doubt American pop culture has much to do with this case. A recurrent theme in Cho’s plays is child sexual abuse.

  6. egpenet
    Posted April 22, 2007 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    And what crime, if NOT child sexual abuse, is the most notorious crime in Western Civilization … continuing today with abuse in homes, in pre-schools, in seminaries, in rectories, and on!

    “Step into my oven, little ones …”

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