This Friday, a young Arizonan killed himself during a nationally broadcasted high-speed chase on Fox News, preceding a copious apology from anchor Shepard Smith.
What was the only problem with Shepard Smith’s apology? Americans weren’t there to listen because they were too busy already trying to find footage of the suicide on YouTube.
After the wardrobe malfunction incident at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, many news and television agencies implemented a 5-ten second delay between live video and what the television audience actually sees on their home screen. This technology is used daily to safeguard television stations from outrageous Federal Communication Commission fines, so they can monitor free speech before airing it.
This was the technology that was supposed to be in place during Friday’s broadcast, but as Shep was yelling, “Get it off, get it off, get it off!” he knew he was already too late and millions of viewing Americans had already witnessed the young Arizonan’s death.
The problem is that Americans live for action and violence-packed television and movies. The popular television show “24″ had a total of 268 on-screen kills by main character Jack Bauer, including one on-screen beheading in a season that topped out at 13.7 million viewers. Americans are hungry for blood and television ratings are there to prove it.
Americans have it completely backwards. Europeans are far more open to nudity than Americans are, but are much less likely to accept an on-screen killing.
How are we saving anyone when we prevent a 15-year-old boy from seeing a naked woman or man on television, but allow him to take on the teenage cult-classic, “Boondock Saints” as his favorite movie?
The five second delay technology can be used to filter nudity and foul language during live television broadcasts that may be within earshot of young Americans. The problem with Friday’s Fox News glitch is that the majority of Americans weren’t that surprised by the live-suicide. In fact, many of them probably looked up the video afterwards to see it again.
It is easy for any liberal to argue that Americans just love to “stick to their guns and religion,” but having the right to own a gun and the right to view a violent death are completely different. While police dramas and investigatory shows are incredibly popular, their level of violence is sickening and it has become addicting to American viewers.
Since Friday, the several different copies of this young Arizonan’s sad death have over a million views on YouTube. Until American ratings corporations realize that we have whetted American appetites in the wrong direction in the support of violence, viewers will become more and more desensitized to one of the worst things any of us could ever see — the killing of another man.
Reach the columnist by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @calebvaroga.