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Nippallujah
April 3, 2004 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Start saving for your childrens future therapy. What they learned this month is dead bodies being burnt and strung up on a bridge is ok to print on the front page of a newspaper, and watch on the news at dinner time; but you better not see any nipple, even for a half a second.
posted by CrazyJub (67 comments total)

 
you may think it's funny to joke about seeing a nipple but take a step back and think about it for a second. what if an innocent child were to actually see a nipple? christ!
posted by mcsweetie at 8:44 AM on April 3, 2004


There's a great new blog by a newspaper designer that discusses this at length, using various papers as an example to see how far they wanted to go with it.

It reminds me of a story. I remember a friend that used to own a house next to a school bus stop. At one point, she stopped getting the newspaper because the front page photos were grisly death photos every once in a while and she didn't want kids staring at bodies before they went off to school.
posted by mathowie at 8:46 AM on April 3, 2004


If Ms. Jackson had her nipple exposed on Fox, she would have to have shown the other one so that the news item could be fair and balanced.
posted by Postroad at 9:04 AM on April 3, 2004


Interesting to see how different croppings of the same photo changes it so dramatically.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:06 AM on April 3, 2004


Part of reporting the news and being a journalist is not shirking from showing the story, even if it is ugly or hard to look at. It is often the case that awful things happen to innocents, and sometimes those awful things happen while the cameras roll. Does this lead to sensationalism? Of course. But I'd rather run that risk than have journalists snapping front-page pictures of kids nuzzling puppies while real, ugly, important news goes unremarked or underreported. (There's plenty of that going on already.)

I applaud the NY Times for running that front-page picture.

Time will tell whether it was a good decision. I'm just glad somebody had the stones to do it. The very fact that we're talking about it here seems to me to justify the decision.

Of course, I'd also like to see more nipples. In color. Above the fold. Female ones, please, if it isn't too much trouble.

Violence is OK, sex is bad. That's the US party line, and we can rail against it all we want and it ain't gonna change. But a picture of American corpses being gleefully defiled by the folks we are ostensibly there to "liberate" merits consideration of a different sort than Janet's boobie.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:13 AM on April 3, 2004


Those first two links, explaining why papers and TV shy away from showing some images, really anger me.

revulsion of readers, and children... exposed to this over their breakfast table

I understand not wanting to upset young children, but adults should know what they're protecting their children from. I'm not into "shock" images and am revulsed by sights of gore, pain, suffering, etc... but I think that a large majority of Americans need to be exposed to these sights to remind them of reality. It's easy to watch TV or read the news and skim over a headline that a couple of soldiers or civilians died in Iraq and a lot of people don't realize what that means. Uncensored images will force more Americans to evaluate war on its most basic level and will help them make more informed decisions about their priorities. Like a lot of Americans, I don't have any connection to service personell and anything that makes the reality of their lives more comprehendable will be greatly beneficial to this country and our servicepeople.
posted by crazy finger at 9:14 AM on April 3, 2004


I didn't see what TV did with these; sounds like they shied away. Too bad. If we can't stomach pictures of war, maybe we shouldn't have wars.

From the news designer link by matthowie (excellent link, matt)

Of the 163 American newspapers on the Newseum today...


118 ran no pictures of bodies on the front page.


45 ran pictures of charred bodies in some form on the front.


33 led the front page with pictures of bodies strung up or burning.


63 led with a photo that had no bodies in it. Of these, 7 ran a smaller, secondary picture of bodies.


35 ran no pictures of the event at all on the front page. Of these, 9 also ran no story.


Newspapers that ran the bodies on the bridge photo included The Miami Herald, the Allentown Morning Call, the Palm Beach Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Post, the Chicago Tribune, The Tampa Trib and the St. Pete Times.


Newspapers that ran photos without bodies included The Seattle Times, the Sun-Times, the San Jose Mercury News, The Oregonian, The Detroit News, The Boston Globe and the Orlando Sentinel. The (Lakeland, Fla.) Ledger and the New York Sun appear to be among the few American papers that actually ran photos of bodies burning as their main A1 image. Canada's National Post did as well.


It would be interesting to see if there is any sort of pattern along geographic/circulation/editorial stance lines. But I ain't gonna do that. That's why God made grad students.

posted by Slagman at 9:20 AM on April 3, 2004


Editor & Publisher weighed in too, and there's a roundup of links to how newspapers reacted on Romenesko.

And what crazy finger and BitterOldPunk said. We should see everything.
posted by amberglow at 9:21 AM on April 3, 2004


I was eating lunch at my healthclub last week and was flipping thru either Time or Newsweek which had an article on the Madrid bombings. First pic I saw was a photo of one of the blown up trains with at least three dead bodies in full view. I remember being a bit surprised that they would print it. One was rather ripped to bits...it isn't the gory pics that upset me. It is the ones where you can see a face. It was profoundly sad.

Perhaps I should read something else during lunch, though.
posted by konolia at 9:22 AM on April 3, 2004


Dating myself here, but I seem to remember seeing some pretty graphic Vietnam war footage on the nightly news when I was a kid. I guess now I have a reason to go to therapy. What a thrill it is to finally have something else to blame for life's failings.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:27 AM on April 3, 2004


If you have kids around while looking at this media, you disclose or censor it, your the parent. What's therapy needed for? a neglected child.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:31 AM on April 3, 2004


What's therapy needed for? a neglected child.

Or a child who turns the TV on when his mother leaves the room for 5 minutes. There's so much bombardment of violence in the media that any parent is in a position where they can't stop their kids from getting these types of images all the time. Perfection and parenting don't go hand in hand.

Time was, you could plop your kid in front of a hockey game but even that has seemingly changed lately. The unfortunate truth is that kids today, myself included, have had to develop a thicker skin to the ways of the world. Some aren't quite so able to do it themselves and I'd assume that's why most are in therapy.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:38 AM on April 3, 2004


dflemingdotorg, why would a child change the channel on a child's show. You liked news as a child? If your child is changing the channel, then the child is not paying attention. We Americans need to find a better babysitter than TV.
in front of a hockey game but even that has seemingly changed lately.
Surprisingly, it's less violent now.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:47 AM on April 3, 2004


What if an innocent child were to actually see a nipple? Christ!
Sounds like we need to ban mirrors, especially in bathrooms :)
posted by kaemaril at 9:58 AM on April 3, 2004


Foreign papers often don't shy from bloody pictures. I remember that as a five year-old growing up in Southeast Asia, it was very normal for me to open up a paper and see accident photos and scenes of murder, with the bodies very much uncensored. Did that screw me up? Probably not. It has been real-life bad people who have done the most harm, and not so much the early recognition of suffering and human violence.
posted by Dukebloo at 10:03 AM on April 3, 2004


Do you guys that want to see the photos saying that because you didn't like the war, or do you really think charred bodies is something appropriate for the front page news?

It's probably due to seeing photos from concentration camps and hiroshima bombings as a kid, but I don't see the need for photos of dead bodies where you can make out individuals. I just don't see any reason to run those on the front page, whether that's from a war, a plane wreck, or a car accident. I'm not the type of person to say "what about the children!" but some of these photos (like the madrid bombings where you can see a severed limb) would be more at home at rotten.com or alt.binaries.tasteless, not a major newspaper.
posted by mathowie at 10:06 AM on April 3, 2004


As far as the nipple incident is concerned, was it even on screen long enough for the typical child to know what they had just seen? I thought it was a breast, but then again, I'm always on the lookout for those things...
posted by NationalKato at 10:08 AM on April 3, 2004


Do you guys that want to see the photos saying that because you didn't like the war, or do you really think charred bodies is something appropriate for the front page news?
I think that when an important event happens, as in the Madrid bombings, or this possible turning point in Fallujah, we should see it all. Even most of 9/11 wasn't shown. It cuts both ways, and it can help or harm whatever things we're doing in the world, or are done to us. News is appropriate for newspapers, whether it's graphic or not.

If I'm not mistaken, the NYT and other papers are also much less squeamish about showing foreign bodies (as in the Madrid wreckage) than ours, which is wrong. Also, if we're involved and responsible in an occupation and war, of course we should see whatever is going on. I remember seeing Vietnam stuff every night on tv news when I was little, for years and years, and I think that's why the media is afraid now--they remember (or are threatened by the admin.) that it helped turn the country away from supporting the war.
posted by amberglow at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2004


Violent images in the newspaper? This is not exactly news.

These were the images we grew up seeing, and these are what we're seeing as adults. The world is a violent place and the news reflects that.

I wasn't offended by Janet's tits but they really served no other purpose than titillation, the other images reflect the reality we live in, which is important.
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on April 3, 2004


but some of these photos (like the madrid bombings where you can see a severed limb)


interesting point.
one of the most-often published images of that bombing in fact shows the ripped-open side of the train and shell-shocked survivors walking around looking for help. it's the perfect image to explain to your readers what happened, to convey the horror and show you the destroyed metal, the sheer force of the blast. there's just a catch: in the foreground you can see something. at first you don't really get what it is. finally you do: it's a foot and leg, cut off above the knee.

different papers (I saw the Spanish, Italian, British, German daily press, can't tell you about the others) made different choices. some tried to cut off that that part of the photograph, editing out the leg. others simply grayed and blackened out digitally the (obviously reddish) leg. and a few papers simply decided to digitally remove the leg out of the pic.
tough choice to make for editors, isn't it?

I think it all comes down on the photo editor's sensibility. not easy.


also, think about the Zapruder movie. it's evidence, and also a historical document.
but it's a snuff film. and what about that pink cloud of brains flying off JFK's head? what would we think if Zapruder had been closer, and the film showed the skull actually being split open? what if the movie had sound? witnesses describe the horrible sound of JFK's head exploding, what if that was in the movie too?
just senseless gore or priceless historical document?

posted by matteo at 10:20 AM on April 3, 2004


But at what point does it become violence porn, just about manipulating the emotions of your viewers/readers and thus affecting/creating the story you are supposed to be reporting?
posted by ednopantz at 10:34 AM on April 3, 2004


*gets his favourite Tinfoil hat with heat dissipator*

Maybe it's because you're supposed to be SCARED and not be entertained or see life in a better light once in a while, or half assed stunts like the nipple one.

God what if you stop thinking we're under constant siege ! What a scary concept !
posted by elpapacito at 10:35 AM on April 3, 2004


But at what point does it become violence porn, just about manipulating the emotions of your viewers/readers and thus affecting/creating the story you are supposed to be reporting?
That's unavoidable I think, and as long as the media clearly explain the situation and background for the images shown it's fine. We're human, and will be shocked by some things sometimes. It's no reason not to show those things--horrible things happen all the time, all over the world, and I think leaving it to reader's imaginations and not showing something can actually make the emotional impact/manipulation worse.
posted by amberglow at 10:40 AM on April 3, 2004


for instance, reading about how people jumped off the WTC to try to escape the fire and everything (leaving it to me to imagine and visualize) made it much worse for me than finally (later, online) actually seeing the shots of bodies leaping.
posted by amberglow at 10:43 AM on April 3, 2004


This war is being carried out in our name. Those who did not oppose the war and even those who did have a responsibility to see the images of what is being done in our name.

Remember the first Gulf War. No images were shown of battle. It looked like a high powered video game. No one was really concerned. Peter Turnley refused to take part in the "pool photographers" that the military allowed. These images were never shown to the public. They are VERY graphic.

You have to take responsibility for what your country is doing in your name.
posted by bas67 at 10:50 AM on April 3, 2004


dflemingdotorg, why would a child change the channel on a child's show. You liked news as a child? If your child is changing the channel, then the child is not paying attention. We Americans need to find a better babysitter than TV.

I don't disagree with that. I grew up 1/3 in front of the television, 1/3 in front of a book and 1/3 playing outside. I liked my childhood because I had a combination of the 3.

Oh, and I changed the channel because I liked the control of the clicker. I did stop on a lot of things I probably shouldn't have because I knew I shouldn't be watching them. I was told that sex was wrong in the media, so guess what happened if I came upon it? I watched it, of course, just to push the limits.

Surprisingly, it's less violent now.

What do you base that statement on? I've been a hockey fan since I was 4 or 5 and there was not the same type of violence 10 years ago as there was today; or, rather, there weren't so many replay shows to show me the gruesome things over and over. Perhaps it's not the game that is the problem but the coverage of the game. I can't even begin to imagine how many times I saw that McSorley stick incident, for example, but something like that 10-15 years ago, I'd have been opportune to see it more than once.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:55 AM on April 3, 2004


for instance, reading about how people jumped off the WTC to try to escape the fire and everything (leaving it to me to imagine and visualize) made it much worse for me than finally (later, online) actually seeing the shots of bodies leaping.

Really? Maybe I'm just wired differently, but as bad as the stories sounded, some part of me didn't know if it was for real, and if so I could imagine how terrible a plight they must have been in to do it.

Though seeing the photos felt worse to me. I can now look at someone permanently frozen in time, giving up on life, mid-plummet to their own demise. It seems worse to me than the imagination of what it might have looked like.

And to be clear, I'm all about context on this stuff. The Zapruder film makes perfect sense to be shown as is in certain settings (like discussions of whether or not there was a second shooter), but on the nightly news, it dangerously gravitates towards violence porn, where ratings and pleasing advertisers trumps common sense or good taste.
posted by mathowie at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2004


dflemingdotorg, just went to a hockey game and the hockey being played on the american content is becoming more european, in regards to "no fighting." Also notice the camera pans away from the fights now which maybe a Dallas, Tx thing. The game I was at, the referee did his best keeping the fights down and allowed one scuffle.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:05 AM on April 3, 2004


Well, i think we are wired differently, matt. ; >

But it seems weird--and fundamentally wrong--to me that fake violence and death and gore is perfectly fine on tv or in movies or other media, but actual things that happen in the real world aren't. I think the censoring is recent, and--coming from people whose job it is to inform us--troubling. That famous pic of the burnt Vietnamese girl running down the street is a good example of that--it ran in newspapers all over the world and won a pulitzer, i think. Nowadays it would never be shown.
posted by amberglow at 11:26 AM on April 3, 2004


On War Footage:
I want flag-draped coffins, I want bloody pictures, and I want eulogies for the fallen dead every single day. We are at WAR, damnit! War means carnage, and it is time for this nation to take responsibility for that carnage. You, Mr. and Mrs. Parent, stop worrying about what your kid is seeing now and start worrying about what your kid is thinking. Hopefully he is not getting the message that war committed in another country is harmless.

On Nipple Exposure:
It is time for women everywhere to rise up and take back the nipple! The breast is a baby-feeding tool as well as a secondary sex characteristic. I say we wrestle the boob away from men who want to own it. Take it out of the smut magazines and put it onto the streets and beaches of America. I think we need a Million Woman (and Two Million Breast give or take) March on Washington. I would march by myself, but somehow I don't think one topless woman is going to change anybody's attitudes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:27 AM on April 3, 2004


Maybe I'm just wired differently

Guess Matt got the point here : differently wired, different reaction depeding on what you see. Amberglow rich imagination and Matt who gets it from visualization.

But both Matt and Amberglow had potential access to both channels (the written story, the picture) because both were produced and distributed and nobody said "no, Matt can't see the visual because *somereason*" or "no, Amber can't read that story because *somereason*"

If I censored the pic, Matt wouldn't today have the image that stuck into his mind (and the meaning he attaches to it) and If i censored the story and only offered pictures Amberglow would be the one not getting the tragedy the way she remembers better.
posted by elpapacito at 11:28 AM on April 3, 2004


It really does go back to parenting. My grandmother loves to recount the story of when JFK was assassinated. I was just under one and my mother, along with most Americans sat in front of the t.v. for three days watching the coverage. She held me in her lap facing the t.v. for most of the time. My mother believed that it was a momentous event and that my infant brain would somehow retain the gravity.

A staunch anti-war protester, as well as patriotic American, my mother required that we watch the news, which included war footage nightly. She also kept me out of school in 1973 for the live coverage of the troops returning from Vietnam. I learned at a young age that you cannot hide from the violent realities of the world. We talked about what we saw and through that I learned about morality and social justice. I thank her for that gift.

I also saw those images of people jumping from the WTC. I saw the images before I read any of the reports. I am still haunted by them. But I believe that is because I was an adult and could understand the terror that those people felt when they made the decision to jump. When you're a child, you don't have the life experience to give you the context. You haven't yet realized that it could have been you.

I agree that the reasons for showing these images in the media are not noble, but instead they appeal to a large segment of the population that gets off on graphic violence. But, valuable lessons can be learned when they are handled the right way by the parents.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:33 AM on April 3, 2004


As far as I know, no one has ever shown the video of the WTC jumpers. A friend who was there told me there were scores and scores of them, one after another. That's an image quite different again from the single pastry chef frozen in midfall that freaked us all out.


I agree that the reasons for showing these images in the media are not noble

Do you really think editors pick graphic shots thinking they'll get a ratings boost? Do you not think they have a responsibilty to show what happened?
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:48 AM on April 3, 2004


but on the nightly news, it dangerously gravitates towards violence porn, where ratings and pleasing advertisers trumps common sense or good taste.

I personally prefer news that doesn't have sugar-coating on it just so it goes down better. If these are supposedly our links to what's happening in the world, why shouldn't they actually convey what's happening in the world? I say less good taste in the media, and more raw truth. As it stands, media 'good taste' is the perfect excuse for most of us to engage in, ignore, and/or willfully endorse uncivilized behavior with an otherwise undisturbed conscience.

Forget shielding the children. Adults are shielding themselves.
posted by precocious at 12:02 PM on April 3, 2004


As far as I know, no one has ever shown the video of the WTC jumpers.

you had to catch them live on the US networks that day. after that, the scenes weren't replayed.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu showed those scenes in his episode of the 11'09''01 film

in Europe, videos of the people jumping off the towers have been shown a little more, but not much.

a few months after 9-11, late at night I caught a documentary by the French filmaker who filmed the first plane crash in the WTC (he was traveling through Lower Mamhattan with firemen shooting a documentary). in it, you can also catch the sound of the bodies touching the ground after the fall.
I wish I hadn't heard that hellish *thud*, thank you very much.
posted by matteo at 12:09 PM on April 3, 2004


As far as I know, no one has ever shown the video of the WTC jumpers. A friend who was there told me there were scores and scores of them, one after another.

The documentary about the firemen that was coincidentally being filmed at the time of 9-11 included the sound of the jumpers hitting the roof of the lobby where the firemen were running things but I don't think they showed footage of actual jumping.

Forget shielding the children. Adults are shielding themselves.

It's not just that though, citizens are being shielded from seeing the results of political actions taken in their name, and the shielding is being done by the press they are effectively forced to rely on for political issues of this kind.
There's a pretty good article about the relationship of the media to the authorities in wartime here and another one here.
posted by biffa at 12:16 PM on April 3, 2004


If you have kids around while looking at this media, you disclose or censor it, your the parent. What's therapy needed for? a neglected child.

thank you for making that point. now change "this media" to "those boobies," and you have my point.
posted by schlaager at 12:45 PM on April 3, 2004


I don't have a problem with the pictures being run, but I will comment on the "in our name" stuff.

I support the war in Iraq, and it only takes a few images of what the sort of animals we are fighting are capable of to remind many people of some of the reasons. Think of what happended to those people - now imagine the scum who did it being the sole governemental power and final arbite of life and death... thats what saddam was.

However, just because I support the war does not mean I have some ethical need to see burned bodies every minute, or that it isn't reasonable to have discourse ont he topic. My parents supported WWII, should they have had to be shown a never ending stream of imagery of dead and burned Nazi corpses as a result? I don't think so.
posted by soulhuntre at 1:06 PM on April 3, 2004


As far as I know, no one has ever shown the video of the WTC jumpers.

Insteresting, I thought that I had seen video of the people jumping that morning as everything was being broadcast live. Perhaps I only saw the photos but my mind remembers them in motion as a video. Either way, the images of people caught in the moment before certain death haunts me more than images of corpses. Maybe because I know that the pain is over for the dead.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:08 PM on April 3, 2004


I remember a photo of a jumper in at least one newspaper. Against a blurred, racing background, head-down, body straight except the right leg, bent to make him look like a backwards number 4. Head bent, looking straight at the onrushing earth.

-----

There was a debate here in Eugene not long ago on thi topic. There was a shoot-out between police and a guy who had just killed a couple of family members, which ended with the murderer shot up badly, and being carted away to the hospital in critical condition. The local paper ran a photo of the guy wrapped up on a stretcher, being loaded into the ambulance shortly before he died.

Many protested on the usual 'boody images at breakfast' line, but a few were offended because the image, due to framing, whatever, gave the killer the appearance of a victim. People were shaken up by identifying with a monster.

Which is plenty of reason to run the photo, in my opinion. We need less straight demonizing in our discourse.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:13 PM on April 3, 2004


The first real photographic war coverage was actually way back at the American Civil War. Now due to technological restrictions of the time there was no live action as exposure time was in minutes instead of the tenths of a second that is possible today.

A team of photographers lead by Matthew Brady covered the war, then Brady sold and displayed the photographs at his New York studio:
In 1862, Brady shocked America by displaying his photographs of battlefield corpses from Antietam, posting a sign on the door of his New York gallery that read, "The Dead of Antietam." This exhibition marked the first time most people witnessed the carnage of war. The New York Times said that Brady had brought "home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war."

Does The Camera Ever Lie?
What really makes this interesting is that a lot of the more famous photographs where actually posed. They actually moved dead bodies of the soldiers around to create their compositions!

What made the Vietnam war so much different was that it was the first major war with mass media coverage.
posted by diVersify at 1:47 PM on April 3, 2004


Something that seems to be left out of the discussion is that these four people were hired mercenaries, some of whom are paid up to $20,000 per month. Although I would not wish that gruesome death on anyone, I find it hard to get worked up over paid killers who chose to be there when on that same day we heard almost nothing about five young marines killed who would have rather been anywhere else but had no choice.

One can debate all day the merits of any particular war and the requirements of duty to country but it is hard to argue the morality of killing for dollars.

It might be better if the press served up the horrors of war for breakfast, lunch and dinner so that those back home who urge them can see the consequences and those who don't can overcome their apathy.
posted by JackFlash at 2:05 PM on April 3, 2004


"We need less straight demonizing in our discourse."

kaibutsu, are you impying that a guy who murdered his family and had a shootout with police maybe wasn't such a bad person after all? Is that your point?

I'm honestly very confused by your statement.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:21 PM on April 3, 2004


Sigh...once again most people missed the point.

Here it is in English...

In America, the powers that be are ensuring that the only way you will see a naked body on television is if it's a dead one.
posted by CrazyJub at 2:24 PM on April 3, 2004


are you impying that a guy who murdered his family and had a shootout with police maybe wasn't such a bad person after all? Is that your point?

He was likely a very screwed-up person, mentally ill, or just plain nasty. But he was not a monster, he was a human being, perhaps a deeply damaged one, but human nonetheless. People like to label people like this as monsters, because it allows us to distance ourselves from them. That distance and the alienation it causes is often a big part of the reason many such people go off the deep end, and the reason so few people get involved and help before something bad happens. Labelling someone as "other" means you can absolve yourself of any responsibility to them as a fellow human being. It's very rare that there are truly no warning signs, but very common that people see them and don't give a shit about them.
posted by biscotti at 2:31 PM on April 3, 2004


I think kaibutsu was suggesting that there's always a larger cause than, "He was just born bad." Murderers don't pop out of the womb strapped with handguns, y'know.

on preview, what biscotti said.
posted by precocious at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2004


Murderers don't pop out of the womb strapped with handguns, y'know.

Although if Jerry Bruckheimer is reading this thread, it's only a matter of time.

posted by cortex at 3:11 PM on April 3, 2004


The WTC jumpers and the cultural decision to not show them is discussed deeply and hauntingly here, in Harper's "The Falling Man", and here, in an AP piece by photographer Richard Drew, "The Horror of 9/11 That's All Too Familiar". Most people don't realize that there were not just a handful of jumpers. There were perhaps a hundred or more jumpers from the two buildings. It was nearly constant. This, we were not shown. The right decision? I don't know. My former gf's brother is one of the 3,000 who died that day, and perhaps he was a jumper. This is something you really, really don't want to think about if you knew someone personally or they were family. Maybe you don't want to think about it at all. Maybe you should. Maybe you shouldn't. The two articles raise a lot of interesting issues.

My own intuition is that people have a responsibility to be aware of the horrors of the world we live in, and a responsible press plays a role in this. But if someone is properly aware of this—and I am—then a lot of stuff starts to look like perverse sensationalist fodder for the people who want to deny the reality that this kind of thing happens a lot. What bothers me greatly is not whether violently graphic images are displayed as news; but, if they are, then I have a problem why some are displayed and so many are not.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:25 PM on April 3, 2004


that esquire piece is something, Ethereal. What distinguishes the pictures of the jumpers from the pictures that have come before is that we—we Americans—are being asked to discriminate on their behalf. What distinguishes them, historically, is that we, as patriotic Americans, have agreed not to look at them. Dozens, scores, maybe hundreds of people died by leaping from a burning building, and we have somehow taken it upon ourselves to deem their deaths unworthy of witness—because we have somehow deemed the act of witness, in this one regard, unworthy of us.
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on April 3, 2004


i sort of think that what outrages us in the US is pretty backwards. i don't really give a damn about nipples on TV. they're nipples, if they offend you then go have yours surgically removed or something.

the war images? maybe a large portion of this country needs to be reminded that there is still a war going on. my brother is stationed near fallujah. anything that gets him home safe, sooner, would be good. i was going to make the same point as amberglow here; the footage showing what was actually happening in vietnam was a sharp contrast to what the public was being told. that needs to happen again. i know you can't fight any kind of a "clean" war, but the least we should expect is that our leaders and press ought not lie to us about how things are going.
posted by caution live frogs at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2004


The jumpers made you confront your own acceptance of mortality. Would you make the same decision in the same circumstances? I found them were much harder to stomach than these photos, maybe because I could not concieve myself in that situation.

That said, I think both need to be seen, just maybe on an inside page. Hmm, what is the televisual equivalent of an inside page?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:27 PM on April 3, 2004


maybe a large portion of this country needs to be reminded that there is still a war going on.
Completely--and I hope your brother comes home.

I guess, on tv an inside page is maybe later at night?
posted by amberglow at 4:49 PM on April 3, 2004


I wish I hadn't heard that hellish *thud*, thank you very much.

Amen Matteo. That was the one thing from that whole amazing documentary that haunts me still. It wasn't a thud as much as an explosion. I read somewhere those guys edited out most of the noises of landing bodies, leaving just a few.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:15 PM on April 3, 2004


Matteo and CunningLinguist et al:

Ok you guys don't like hearing the *thuds* of people jumping off buildings. Neither do I entertain myself by watching video of dead people, *thuds* of poor people so desperate they jumped off WTC ; I still guess some of them choosed to do so to avoid being burned alive.

This is worse then a tragedy, which is a play of some kind, that is what really happened and the video is backed by thousands of eyewitnesses as well.

The day I watched WTC collapse in realtime I developed a deep-down sense of discomfort with special effects ; while the explosions and collapse of WTC was nearly as "spectacular" and eye catching as hollywood can do, the images of people jumping shed a new light on the image, the light of "oh no god please this can't be real" while I knew all the time it was real.

I would still remember WTC even without the image of jumpers, but the timing of the images, the sequence, all of this was so incredibly surreal yet real and absurd no movie director could have conceived that.

But for me it wouldn't have been the same without the poor jumpers, because it touched a nerve deep down as I identified with the jumper, and the sound of *thud* was part of the process as well.

Others may be troubled by images and sounds I don't have any trouble with, stuff that I don't go look for on the net like some other may do, but I'm glad my "innocence" wasn't "protected" by a law, basically letting somebody else decide what I can see and I can't see for some reason.
posted by elpapacito at 6:59 PM on April 3, 2004


But it was. That's my point. You never saw the many jumpers - even in the live footage, they cut away. No video has been shown since and only a handful of still photos. You never heard the many thuds - there were no live cameras in the lobbies on the day and the documentaries have edited it out.

And you seem to have me confused for someone who thinks the public needs protecting from disturbing truths. I think exactly the opposite. I would have printed much more graphic Falluja photos.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:06 PM on April 3, 2004


Well, no one has engaged my contention that an ad hoc, incomplete public display of disturbing truths might actually be working against the realization of anything we might call "enlightenment". I'm deeply suspicious of the horrors that are shown to us because I know that we're not shown so many others. What is the criteria for deciding? Why do we want to be shown some horrors and not others? Not only the media, but our own motivations are suspect.

I personally don't need to see these horrors because I assume their existence. Seeing them is not telling me anything I don't already assume. And as for the people who aren't generally and constantly aware of the horrors in the world, well then, we're back to my suspicions about why and what it means that they're seeing only a very narrow selection.

If I were an editor, I'd either regularly run explicit gruesome photos (if they're newsworthy) or I wouldn't at all.

The problem I have with the WTC jumper example is that the undesirable result of suppressing the video and photos is that we (most of America) were left ignorant of the scale of it. I think most of us thought there were only a handful of jumpers—certainly not that there were a couple per minute or so until each building collapsed.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:28 PM on April 3, 2004


Although I would not wish that gruesome death on anyone, I find it hard to get worked up over paid killers who chose to be there when on that same day we heard almost nothing about five young marines killed who would have rather been anywhere else but had no choice.

Uh...not to be crude or anything, but marines chose that line of work too. And they get paid for it, ya know. Last I heard they weren't employing the draft yet.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:15 PM on April 3, 2004


But we can reasonably assume that any hired mercenaries signed up specifically to go to Iraq, while Marines didn't. A Marine might have signed up to defend the US against real no-shit actually dangerous enemies, and be peeved to be sent to Iraq for whatever the actual reasons turn out to have been.

Or, put differently, the mercs wouldn't be sent to prison for refusing to go to Iraq.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:04 PM on April 3, 2004


I don't know.... seeing a nipple on TV may make you a queer, I think. Surely there must be some religious reason why.... you know. Religious reason. Moral fiber. God fearing.

Youll burn in hell, if you dare to think differently. We have proof there was jesus. We can prove he loves you. More people have died or have been tortured directly from religion than any other reason in history.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:19 PM on April 3, 2004


How about respect for the dead? Our dead? I don't know, I'm not a big fan of the pictures of these poor guys.

Would it change things if we knew these guys names and if the caption under the picture said something along the lines of ;

"Picture of Matt Haughey's charred remains after being burned and hanged under a bridge in Iraq".
posted by tomplus2 at 9:28 PM on April 3, 2004


But informing the public about what happens under our auspices during a war isn't disrespectful to the dead, and is very important to the functioning of a democracy. And if you're going to speak of respect, what about our dead soldiers being shipped back under cover of darkness and under a government-imposed news blackout? That doesn't seem to show much respect, imho.
posted by amberglow at 9:41 PM on April 3, 2004


Yes, but it also makes a strong case asking why nudity is so "feared" by the media, but in times of war we display dead soldiers. I agree it was important not to whitewash this, and paradoxically our wars are getting much more mild in comparison to the real stuff, but I say if we have gone this far, why not go all the way?
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:12 PM on April 3, 2004


The problem I have with the WTC jumper example is that the undesirable result of suppressing the video and photos is that we (most of America) were left ignorant of the scale of it.

But that's exactly what's going on in Iraq. I wonder what common perception of the Iraqi casualties is like... I know that we good denizens of MeFi know the 10,000 dead figure quite well, but I wonder how well it is known to Joe Nascar, how often that number is compared to the number 3,000. Our government has decided to stop counting. It is suppressing the information, and, because we are American and self-centered, our media doesn't seem to care how many people we've killed in our questionable defense. We know how many of our own have died, label their killers monsters and terrorists and fanatics, but who asks how many those dead had killed?

Why do these Iraqis keep killing our troops? Imagine if, following September 11th, Afghanistan had been in Pennsylvania, instead of the Middle East. Imagine what Pittsburgh would have been like once the New York traffic was flowing again, arteries exploding with grief and bile.

We're so eager to divide - monsters and heroes, dictators and liberators. Never taking the time to turn around the cameras.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:34 AM on April 4, 2004


in Europe, videos of the people jumping off the towers have been shown a little more, but not much.

a few months after 9-11, late at night I caught a documentary by the French filmaker who filmed the first plane crash in the WTC (he was traveling through Lower Mamhattan with firemen shooting a documentary). in it, you can also catch the sound of the bodies touching the ground after the fall.
I wish I hadn't heard that hellish *thud*, thank you very much


yes, i saw this as well, the thuds were quite sickening and scary.

but in my opinion, the worst thing was the footage i saw of the jumper who was slammed repeatedly into the building by the wind as they fell. that image will never leave my mind.

oh, and i fully support graphic photos, and oppose the blurring/removal of bodies etc.
posted by knapah at 5:41 AM on April 4, 2004


I think showing graphic images & footage is okay, but it's reasonable and fair and ethical to preface them with a warning about graphic content, so people who are seriously emotionally harmed by such things have the opportunity to pass them by.

Not everyone can see these things and... assimilate them without undue stress and difficulty. Some people are especially sensitive (or perhaps mentally ill) and these images and so on can really torment them. They deserve a chance to limit their exposure to such things, imho.
posted by beth at 3:15 PM on April 4, 2004


The secret Life of Gravy is my hero.

Boobies: good...
Images of War: Good, but just as effective are the "yearbook" style photos of those killed along with their names. There should be more of those in every daily paper. And they should be on the front page, and cumulative until you realize the whole damn paper is full of these people.

As for the number of bodies falling from the WTC: I had no idea there were so many until today. And I watched and watched and watched the news constantly.

As for news: I am for realism and truth and full disclosure.

Its when you are making entertainment that you have the real choice to leave it out or not. Then you make the choice, apply the rating and answer to your own conscience.
posted by jopreacher at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2004


I don't know.... seeing a nipple on TV may make you a queer, I think. Surely there must be some religious reason why.... you know. Religious reason. Moral fiber. God fearing.
Keyser grow up, as your comment sounds real. Think first for once, you would show children prOn(sic)?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:14 AM on April 5, 2004


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