Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why the media is responsible for the next rampage

Any good parent or teacher knows that when you have a kid who is acting out, throwing fits, making a scene, you just play into their hands if you give them too much attention. That's what they're after, your attention. By getting drawn into their world, you let the tantrum-thrower take control. I remember one parenting expert who advised the best way to deal with a kid throwing a fit is to simply walk out of the room and deny them your attention. In other words, you will not get what you want by engaging in this behavior.

So the Virginia Tech shooter, whose rampage is just another form of throwing an "I'm not getting my way" tantrum, is now trying to draw us unto his world and control us with his calculated acting out. The package of photos and videos that he sent to NBC are clear evidence of not just a twisted mind, but of his goal to perform the ultimate "look at me" act. Unfailingly, the media does exactly the wrong thing in almost all of these cases. By endlessly airing the photos and videos, by turning this nutjob into the anti-hero he longed to be, the wheels keep turning to crank out more and more of these fame seeking sociopaths. Isn't it obvious that this guy knew just what would happen with those images? That he would then become known, we would all look at him, know his name, hear his complaint? Are not all the media accomplices after the fact?

How is it that we have figured out that it's not right to keep the camera on people who run out onto the baseball field during a game, but we can't figure out that we should not aggrandize the whining grievances of crazy people with guns? We don't want to reward the drunken fence jumpers, but we give hours of airtime to the killers. Where is this story angle - the media's role in creating the next massacre - on Primetime, 48 Hours and all the rest? Don't hold your breath...


hillbilly deluxe said...

Right on, Barry. Very good point. To think that we've all heard the anchorman say "we're not going to show the _________ (fight, naked guy, etc.)", but we WILL show the murderer repeatedly. Similarly, I find it ironic that we will show the Iraq suicide bomber footage and our military losses, but the 9/11 footage is "too disturbing". If I was a conspiracy theorist I would say Big Brother is censoring and spinning and spoon-feeding (or force-feeding)us only the info they want us to see/hear. I don't like it one bit. Great minds think alike, Barry. Long live the free thinkers!

Scott said...

So, let's just assume you're an executive at NBC. You looked at your ratings for the last week. Dead last again. Your top show, "Deal or No Deal," is mediocre at best. Just then your phone rings. Apparently, there's a package downstairs from You Know Who. Your directive? Make sure you make a copy of everything before calling the FBI.