The Responsibility with Replays
When I was ten years old I won a pair of hockey tickets on the radio. And not just any tickets – seats at game one of the second round of the playoffs between my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and the St. Louis Blues. The Leafs were outmatched by the Blues and had to come out with the win.
For all those non-hockey lovers out there, overtime is like crack to a ten year old boy. And playoff overtime? That is high-grade, uncut crack. The win was pure rapture.
Of course I've lived this moment again and again over the subsequent years. The joy that instant replays have brought me is immeasurable. And not just this particular memory - being able to hear Martin Luther King speak to a nation, seeing Neil Armstrong bounce across the screen and watch Muhammad Ali stand over George Foreman has been a blessing.
But is there a limit to this? Are there examples that garner no good from reviewing?
Enter Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian man who died on the luge track hours before the 2010 Olympic opening ceremony. I'm not here to argue about the hazards of the sport nor to pay tribute to a man whom I did not know.
What vexes me is the fact that the video of his death was aired moments after the opening ceremonies drew to a close on national television. I didn't want to see that. The video topped YouTube and Google Video while the IOC desperately tried to have it removed, but of course, to no avail. Just go to Google and type in 'luge death' and you are sprayed with hundreds of choices for videos.
This got me thinking. Obviously there is a gray area when it comes to tasteful video matter and what one considers 'okay' is entirely subjective. Personally I find watching shows that show car crashes and personal injury to be gut-wrenching. There are literally hundreds of websites devoted to no other cause except the collection of video showing motorcycle accidents. Or car accidents. Or sporting injuries. And so on and so on.
I can remember being a kid and wincing every time Bob Saget would introduce another video showing a kid on a tire swing where the rope breaks, or a pitcher getting hit in the crotch with a line drive. And America's Funniest Home Videos was in the top ten shows on television during its hay-day. Look it up.
But I am getting away from the example in mind.
The video of the Georgian's death was not only horrifying as a uninvolved viewer, but what about his family and friends in Georgia who had only rumors to go on? Those who were glued to their television sets hoping to hear any news they could? How does an explicit video of a loved one dying process? Or better yet, in slow motion? Probably not too well. I can't imagine seeing my own brother, father, friend, or even loose acquaintance suffering such a tragic death. And to see it again and again as some six o'clock update between the top ten highlights and the weather is unfathomable.
So where does one draw the line? Is a car-crash as the Daytona 500 acceptable to show? What if no one was hurt? What about pain and suffering in a political context? What about war footage? Rwandan genocide? Isn't that important for the world to see? Sometimes shock value does have it's merits.
One could argue being forced to watch stock footage of the atrocities of war helps people who have never had to fight a war better understand the horrors of it. Without the footage flooding in from Vietnam perhaps the American public wouldn't have found their voice to protest. The more we know about the world around us only helps us make sound decisions as to how to live our lives. Right?
Of course there is a thin line between entertainment and education; a line quickly becoming blurred to desensitized generation. But I won't bore you with empty rhetoric on the matter.
Each situation needs its own decision and my point is that in the situation of Nodar Kumaritashvili the decision made was in terribly poor taste. That time could have easily been used to show Doug Gilmour score in OT to send the series to game two.