Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam's execution as entertainment -- Update

Saturday morning:
I'm not embedding the YouTube video, but here is a link to another summary post in which one can be found. It was on Iraq television. I expect our own networks won't be far behind. You know the saying...if it bleeds, it leads. Well, there's usually no bleeding at a hanging, so it may not have enough oomph to make the lead.

Friday morning update:

They're not messing around. NBC is reporting that Saddam is to be hanged in the next thirty-six hours, in time to start the Eid holidays.

What was that about circuses?


Martin Kaplan contemplates how the hanging of Saddam Hussein will be handled by the media.

It's not hard to imagine the Iraqi authorities allowing cameras at the gallows. Even if they don't, it's not unlikely that a cellphone or two will somehow manage to video the execution. In either case, thanks to the 'Net, footage of the hanging will conceivably be globally available. What will the networks do?

On one side of the ledger, there's the issue of taste, and of the possibility that children are watching, plus that pesky what-kind-of-society-are-we? question, none of which has so far prevented the mass media from depicting the most barbaric violence in their entertainment programming, or from covering car chases or hostage situations with the never-to-be-admitted hope of capturing a fatal money shot on tape.

On the other side, there's the this-is-news argument, and the deterrence rationale, and the fear that they'll be eating the Nielsen exhaust of a competitor who isn't so Emily Post about broadcasting judicial porn. Those who do air it may prefer to cloak their reasoning in public interest terms, but the lurid truth is that there's a centuries-old tradition of the public being extremely interested in watching executions.

My own objections to capital punishment seem more and more quaint, don't they? The scheduled execution or this despicable man is like the cherry on top of the dessert. This is the circus part of "bread and circuses."

1 comment:

Huntor said...
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