When I was young and impressionable one of my favorite movies was Clueless. And the scene where Cher argues that we ought not get rid of shows that use violence for entertainment because you can see it on the news anyway was something my father and I discussed while he paused the movie. What, he wondered, would happen if the news itself showed less violence? He taught me that violence sells at every level. Newspapers, film, music and the local news all wanted that money shot of the body laying on the corner surrounded my yellow tape. People wanted to know more about the mass murder, they wanted to be thankful that it wasn’t them. They reveled in the fear. As long as it was from a distance, it was all good to watch.
I was a part of the new generations of people who have become desensitized, to some extent. We can witness a murder on-screen and it will have little effect on our daily lives. We watch the morning news while we sip our coffee and shake our heads at the poor souls that endure tragedy. Then we go about our days complaining about traffic and unanswered texts from our significant others, we talk sports, fashion, music, and when we hear about the story again we only slightly pause, the grief, if we are human enough to feel it, is temporary and after a quick discussion with our friends or a commercial break from the news segment that had just finished, we plan dinner, we settle in for a Netflix session and we don’t think about these people or their troubles any more.
Today on the news I watched as a Sixty year old Asian doctor was dragged off of a plane because the airline overbooked. Lo and behold, the apology from United Airlines didn’t apologize to the man, they didn’t feel shame for the incident. They said “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.” They go one to mention wishing to speak with the man who was violently removed.
Two issues with this:
Whatever the reason he had refusing their asking he allow them to “re-accommodate” him, what on Earth has given the “officers” a right to be violent with a passenger? Didn’t they mama’s teach them to respect their elders? Keep their hands to themselves?
And what about this statement from United? I don’t have to breakdown the lack of humanity in it, we can all see it. But are we really surprised that a big business like United won’t easily take fault for the mistreatment of a person?
On today’s other news:
- A murder-suicide shooting in an elementary school today, teacher and one adult dead. Also one eight year old child has lost their life. Another is still in critical condition.
- Yesterday, here in Miami, a man was fired and he came back and killed the woman who had fired him.
- A police force wearing masks and standing in a manner eerily similar to that of Isis sends a “message” to criminals.
And these two-minute stories are wedged between commercials of cleansing products, restaurants, and automobiles. Now here’s Tammy in her skin-tight dress with the weather, Tony with the dining dish, let’s see what he’s cooking for us tonight.
Granted we cannot live our lives consumed in grief. But can we just stop and take it in? And then use those moments to say, well damn, I’m not going to be a person that lets an older man be dragged off of a plane. In fact I’m always going to stand up for someone before letting them be abused and insulted. Or, we should really invest in and insist on mental health care for our fellow-man. We encourage visits to the ER, but we have this horrible stigma for counseling.
Also, can we move the heartwarming stories from the 30 second spot at the end, or the noon edition that no one actually watches and let them be a main feature in the evening and morning news? I get that it’s prime real estate, but people are watching. And whether or not we acknowledge it, we are being programmed by what we take in.
I know it sounds oh-so hippie of me. I’m not ignorant of the fact that we must stay informed, but there has to be a way to ingrain a little more positivity in what we report. Has nothing good happened among humans today that’s worth the spotlight?
I am a dreamer. Tomorrowland is something I look up to. But you’re a dreamer, too, if you think the media and journalism are unbiased consistent reporting of the world as it actually is. I’m just saying, let’s b more empathetic. Let’s not let these stories wash over us and ignore them. When we hear horrible news, don’t go on auto pilot and purse your lips, happy to forget. But also, let’s add a little light to this darkness.
It may seem contradictory, but it is, in my humble opinion, a way to be more humane. Less apathetic about the bad stuff, more celebratory of the good stuff.
Who knows, we may be able to rewire ourselves with steps like this.