It’s times like these that make me so disappointed in our American Media. By insisting on asking the wrong questions, the media help perpetuate the confusion and stupidity surrounding our gun violence problem.
By keeping things emotional, by decrying into the camera, “How could something like this happen?” the media keep asking the wrong questions. I want to scream at the television, “Aren’t you a JOURNALIST? How long have you lived in this country? You know Damn Well how something like this happens.”
If I were a Hollywood screenwriter preparing the story of this tragedy for the movies, I might be interested in how the Connecticut town in question is a nice, quiet, peaceful little town. I might find the story of every single student and teacher of emotional fascination. These stories are obviously agonizingly painful. But such reactive, purely emotional observations move us forward not one inch in the understanding of “how something like this happens.” It may keep us glued to the TV, it may engage our natural human sense of drama, but it has NOTHING TO DO with “how something like this happens.”
And “motive.” Motive is a biggie in these media murder stories. If we could just Understand the Motive of the killer, we could….we could What? Prevent the next tragedy from occurring? It’s as if the media concentrated on everything BUT the crux of the matter.
The shooter obtained his weapons legally. There. THAT is a huge part of “how something like this happens.” But, unlike most Earthlings who would calmly ask about the wisdom of this legality, the American Media dutifully change the subject, and start playing a gut-wrenching montage of terrified faces, along with some very sad music.
Well, I don’t NEED my gut wrenched further. I need my proxies in the media to ask, “What’s going to prevent the next gun-related tragedy?” I need media that will ask tough questions and will stop treating their audience like a bunch of fourteen-year-old girls.
Let’s be brutally honest: the media LOVE stories like this—they’re good for business. These tragic stories sell magazines, and keep viewers morbidly fascinated. This economic incentive may be one reason that the media never move into areas of debate that might speak to actual fact, actual policy and actual consequence.
I hate to be cynical here, but these tragedies are going to happen again and again and again until laws and policies change. In the interim we will forget and distract ourselves with other things.
I promise to act surprised the next time someone yells, “He’s got a GUN!”