Posted by: Gregg | April 17, 2007

Disaster porn.

I was busy all day yesterday, so I completely missed news of the Virginia Tech shootings until after work that evening. I turned off NPR after I got the basic facts. Like most people, I immediately thought of the World Trade Center and Columbine tragedies.

I made the decision not to give in to the seductive lure of disaster porn, of endless television shows with streams of pundits telling us about how their pet hobbyhorses caused the disaster. I’m not watching interviews of some student’s best friend’s high school shop teacher about what a nice boy they once were. Because none of it gets to the heart of why.

This was an irrational act. For a rational person like me, that means that I can never, ever, really know why. All the interviews in the world cannot allow me to see into the mind of the student who did this. Point the finger at whatever cause you like: gun control, video games, Dungeons & Dragons, illegal aliens, the cancellation of Studio 60, whatever. It’s all just guesswork. The only person who can answer that question is gone.

So I won’t watch. I’ll follow the headlines and the basic details, but that’s it. I won’t give in to the hours of soul-sucking disaster porn. My heart goes out to the families and the community, but I’m staying away.

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Responses

  1. I can’t think of a better term than “disaster porn.” I feel terribly that so many families have lost their children too but I’m with you: I turned off the TV almost immediately. Not soon enough to miss the painful George/Laura Bush interview, but after that I turned it off and kept it off.

  2. Also, I most definitely did not want to see the shooter’s ramblings on videotape all over the news last night. Or his poorly-written essays. Or his equally poorly-written plays. Or, especially, the photos with guns pointed at the camera.

    Seems like the only person is this whole affair who tried to do the right thing was the Creative Writing prof who pulled him out of classes and tried to get the guy in some sort of counseling.

  3. Even if he were alive we would never know why. The guy was having the equivalent of an epileptic seizure. People whose psychosis has reached the level his did are not cognating any more, but are acting on schizophrenic impulse. Even with meds to bring him around he never would have been able to explain it anymore than someone convulsing can explain why they kicked and twitched.
    The brain is an evil thing. I hope to cripple mine with beer before it can take over and cause any real damage like running for office or buying capris pants.

  4. Even NPR’s coverage has been excessive, lurid, and exploitative. What would happen, god forbid, if we knew less about this situation rather than more, more, more?

    I’m personally bummed because the shooter was an introverted Asian English major.


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