Our violent world

By Hadija Gabunga

It takes more and more than just your regular five o’clock news to shock people. So what’s the story? Is it news or entertainment? How much substance is there to what you watch on television? Are you being informed or entertained?

Sex, violence and drugs sell. Flipping through the channels on television on a random day is like watching the sneak previews at the theatre. When did we get so obsessed with bombings, killings, rapes and murder stories? Is this what our society has become, or is it that nothing is censored any longer because people want to be shocked?

We seem to feed on violence. News images have become so graphic that a mother beating her child in a parking lot will make the evening news and newspaper headlines. We are now accustomed to these shocking images. The Washington sniper continues to make the news headlines, and undoubtedly, the Calgary Sun will sell with “Cops fear sniper has struck again” plastered on its front page.

Would you rather see images of UN peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East broadcasted in the news headlines, or the recent civilian killings in Indonesia? What are we being fed? Are you being informed about the world or is news there for mere shock value?

It is disturbing to think that the World Trade Center bombings now appear normal. The images have been flashed all over the world, across countless news stations and news stands. Disturbing enough, what most people remember about 9-11 are those images, not the reasoning–justifiable or not–that led up to them.

Television feeds us easily misconstrued parts of a story and paints how we see the world. CNN will broadcast their stories, paint an image that society eventually accepts, and leave the rest of the information to our imagination. Soon you will not have to explain violence to the average five-year old child: they will see it on television, toy with the idea while playing their video games and even experience it at school.

Television serves as a reminder of how gladly society chooses to be easily manipulated. News headlines often report what they consider to be news worthy, not necessarily what is informative. And for those who cannot stomach the violence, television provides a quick fix solution. Flip over to Dr. Phil, for example. He’ll help you sort out your love life, fix your family problems and help you deal with your everyday stress. For those still suffering from voyeurism, Jerry Springer, or any other trashy talk show should sooth your needs. And when you have all you appetites satisfied, Martha Stewart Living will gladly help you plan your next family gathering with a perfectly handmade turkey dinner. And for dessert, tune in to Jay Leno for some laughs.

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