The International Writers
& THE NETWORK RUBBER NECK
The Virginia Tech Killer's 15 Minutes Of Infamy
violence is really interesting. Especially epic slayings by lone
nuts for no fathomable reason. Big ratings. Big talk. Big headlines.
Big reasoning. Tons of that. Why? How? All the silly incomprehensible
psychobabble getting to the bottom of nothing. Sure it's scary.
There are badly wired humans everywhere. At any moment they go
off the rails and things get broken and people get hurt. This
happened at Virginia Tech this week. Horrible stuff. Can't be
explained, like hurricanes and earthquakes and Nazis.
I'm fascinated by it. So are you. Of course you are. Repulsed? Sure. Frightened?
Perhaps. But mostly fascinated. Glued to the gory details, the fallout,
the grieving, and the endless lists of possible motives. I'm not particularly
surprised, but then again I believe just slightly less than half of our
populace is capable of crazy random shit. I'm surprised this doesn't happen
more often. Maybe not 32 massacred kids in a relatively mellow bucolic
college campus, but you know what I'm getting at.
And you know who's banking on our fascination with this? The media: network
television, cable stations, newspapers, radio, you name it. Nothing new
here. That's what they're here for. Tragedy is party time for news geeks.
None will admit to it in public, but they all do the hula victory dance
every time feces hits the fan somewhere, in the bullpens and pressrooms,
and especially at corporate headquarters. I've been there, Jack. Oh, it's
mass orgasm, believe it.
You think I'm being Mr. Bad Ass Cynic again? Well, maybe you're right.
But as evidence I present the airing of the Virginia Tech killer's mailed
video/print/digital photo manifesto this week. The National Broadcasting
Company won the sweepstakes on this puppy, as they did with the Imus flak,
since they were the first to sack his sorry ass and then unconscionably
lead the evening network news broadcast with ten (Ten!) uninterrupted
minutes of racist hysteria last week. Unconscionable unless of course
we keep our eyes focused on the aim and purpose of everything media: Ratings
sends multi-media diatribe to major news organization before slaughtering
This is the Holy Grail for those profiting on news broadcasts.
Hey, maybe the murderer was tuning in as Brian Williams was gushing trumped-up
show biz empathy all over the Rutgers girls basketball team last week.
Figures here's a sucker who will make me, a lonely, lunatic misanthropic
jag-off famous. Hey, it's as good as the video game, bullied, victim of
a sick culture, gun-happy theories.
Okay, so back to Ratings Equals Cash.
I must go on record as stating that I have no problem with this. It is
a sound business axiom like Profit Is God, Downsizing Is Good For The
Soul, and Fuck The Public.
NBC News exists to sell time. The purpose of all media, no matter how
much the talent or producers or fans think their special slice of it changes
lives, advances society, or shifts politics. It is showbiz, period. And
this is not a new phenomenon. No, sir. This goes back as far as jogging
Greek messengers who were wacked for unpopular presentation. Got to feed
the audience, buster. W.R. Hearst knew it. He was an onerous mutant and
a great newspaper mogul, and the main reason he once owned 80% of the
mass media in this country. Now it's more like six mega-conglomerates
controlling all of this country's mainstream media, and they know damn
well the shit you will eat, and you will gorge, my friends, you will gorge.
No, reporting the news as entertainment is not the issue here. I love
it. Keep it coming.
My gut-churning disdain begins with the smarmy, apologetic, touchy-feely
rhetoric being spewed by dime-store barkers like Williams and his ilk
as they roll out the dung. Give us some credit. We know we're slowing
down to see the gruesome car accident, a mass rubber necking. We don't
need the laughably affected facial expressions of remorse and stilted
voicing, fidgeting shoulders and slight dips of the head.
"I'm sorry folks, it's so sad and heart-wrenching, but here's the
The whole thing is fabricated and insulting and patently false in the
most insidious way. Just play the damn tape of the psycho rambling on
about being ostracized and emotionally wounded and spewing the same tired
falderal made famous by the usual Chuck Manson wannabees. I would respect
these assholes so much more if they would just be honest: "Here is
some sick stuff, you're going to be horrified and nauseated but unable
to turn away, then let's get right to the cheery Sally Field pharmaceutical
What is the difference between this and the exploitation of the Elephant
What is the difference between this and Britney Spears tantrum updates?
Then the president of NBC or some other bloodsucking corporate suckfish
comes on MSNBC later accompanied by Williams to "explain" the
need for true journalistic integrity in accepting the package and waiting
two (Two!) hours to alert authorities -- two hours to dupe tapes, make
copies of the photos and comb over reams of gibberish. Two hours to get
the campaign ramped up, slap "NBC Exclusive" tags on every photo
and every second of amateur YOUTUBE video.
And this on the heels of NBC acting all sanctimonious last week in the
wake of Shock Jock Crucifixion. So what's more offensive, I ask you: Name
Calling 101 or airing the meanderings of a mass murderer 48 hours after
I don't find either offensive, but apparently this is a hot topic right
now and I figure since everyone is so up in arms and sensitive to public
decorum and decency, where do we go on this one?
Oh, and by the way, NBC eventually got around to the real story, why the
local authorities and college security allowed an armed and dangerous
killer to put together a promo package, go to the post office, leisurely
stroll around campus armed to the teeth and eventually butcher 31 additional
students over a three-hour window.
© James Campion April 21 2007
Have you seen the new ad for the Armed
Forces? The Columbia Broadcast System has been running it incessantly
I should be a Juror
Unfortunately the author did not experience
the privilege of serving as a juror. He was dismissed for being a freelance
Victims and Vengence
Sad Spectacle of a Radio Has-Been
Condescending. Patronizing. Exploitive. Hypocritical.
Disingenuous. All the
words that make this supposed democratic society of equals so pathetic.
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