When The Evening News Is Obscene

I’m quite certain everyone knows by now about the terrible death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Nodar Kumaritashvili was the 21 year old Georgian luger who crashed into a metal pole after being one of twelve Olympic athletes to have an accident while training on the worlds’ fastest course.

NBC showed the accident. And then they showed it again.

Although the world is entitled to know that Nodar Kumaritashvili died while taking a trial run, are we more entitled to view his death than his parents are entitled to not view it?

Granted every network does their 3 second disclaimer, “this is difficult to watch”, but they go right ahead and show it. I would rather my children see naked adults kissing strangers than have them viewing the death of a 21 year old athlete.

What’s interesting is that my lunch earlier in the week was interrupted. Unfortunately my two favorite Pho places in town both have televisions on at all times, and the televisions are almost always tuned to CNN. Earlier this week I was unable to finish my lunch as CNN showed this video. Please do not feel like you need to watch it. If you do not click “play” you will not have to watch it.

Is the luge death more obscene than pornography?
The beating? Is this more upsetting to you than porn?

Why is America able to embrace mayhem and manslaughter, but not an embrace?

You know, besides the other porn The Terrible Porn (NSFW)I sent to my husband’s office.

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27 Comments

  1. I don’t like any of these news stories. I suppose they are stories for the day and job securities for reporters. Think of this- and we, as a society, wonder why our kids have so many issues? Look at these stories that our kids can see day in and day out! Personally, I find the beating video the worst of these. But, I don’t like any of them…..Lots of food for thought here. We’ve got a lot of work to do! Our kids need strong, supportive role models and it sure is becoming harder to find them. And too many of them don’t have that. I hope my boys appreciate what they have, as many do not have the home that they have. A safe haven- a place to call home- where parents care.

  2. I have always been surprised at how uptight the United States is about sex (or anything even remotely like sex), but yet so open about violence. I’m also dismayed anytime I see Canadian broadcasters becoming more American from that perspective.

  3. Not quite sure how we can “watch this” on the sidewalk?? But just as sure as these guards who did nothing jump in to pull these kids apart do the lawyers come out and sue someone over touching their underage child.

    I will say that I was disgusted to read that the Olympic committee said it was “human error” that Nodar died. HUH? Really?

  4. I completely agree with you, and I’m glad you posted about this. NBC’s images were incredibly graphic – they literally showed the bloody face just after 7:30 p.m. I wondered if I was watching the National Enquirer on TV instead of the Olympics. I had just tuned in with both my kids, telling them it was a special treat to watch the Olympics.

    I sent tweets expressing my displeasure to @NBC and @NBCNews, but didn’t post about it. I’m so glad you did.

    Don’t we still have a family viewing hour in this country?

  5. you are correct. His parent’s right to NOT seeing should surpass all others and never mind that they showed it at all. What was the point of it? Oh right. Money.

  6. I have to jump back in here~ Lynn- I so agree with you!!! Where is the family viewing hour in this country? I don’t think it exists anymore………

  7. Having my kids accidently come across something sexual can, worst case scenario, cause an uncomfortable awkward moment. A moment that will make a humorous story tomorrow and leave no scars.

    Yes the luge death and the beating (I assume because I didn’t press play) are more obscene than porn. On a hundred different levels.

  8. You should have seen the cover of today’s Chicago Sun-Times. It was only a still, but just as horrific. I just looked around and they weren’t the only one to put it on the front page. Just disgusting.

  9. fdhbstephanie

    I was equally as shocked. The kid and I were watching the news shortly after I got home from work and I didn’t even hear a disclaimer. I had read the news while at work so I knew what was going on but to get home and see *that*?!? I agree, porn would have been much better than this…

  10. Job security is one thing, but just because a video exists, that doesn’t mean that a reporter needs to air it. The story of Kumaritashvili’s death would have been just as heart-breaking without video. Certainly the story of the security guards watching someone being beaten unconscious without acting would have been just as horrible without video.

    Although of the two, I’d rather have seen the security guard video broadcast than the video of Kumaritashvili. Their actions, after all, ARE the story, and it is absolutely mind-boggling to watch them stand around. (Admittedly, it’s mind-boggling to me that NO ONE stepped in to do anything. How could you just watch and not try to do something?) But the luge accident did NOT need video.

  11. Tracey

    CTV did the same in Canada. Thankfully I watched CBC who had the good taste to show clips and still photos only.

  12. Kim

    I was shocked and appalled that they actually showed the death of this young man, and the paramedics doing cpr on his bloody face, and all the blood, and and and…I was just shocked. I was also disappointed because my 3 and 5 year old were watching it with me. I thought we’d tune in for some pre-opening ceremony Olympic goodness and was hit in the face with that. Needless to say, I turned it immediately. But that doesn’t erase the image from my mind and the minds of my children.
    It really is a sad statement on our culture that we are so desensitized to death and destruction. I am equally offended by beatings and death as I am pornography and really wish our culture as a whole was too.

  13. Saw footage of the family in Georgia – not wanting to SEE it – wonder why??? Still ashamed of the Olympic committee stating it was HUMAN ERROR – hmm…over 90 MPH who made the track…and now who has modified said track.

    Nodar deserves more than he was at fault.

  14. I watched the video. What was wrong with those people WATCHING what was going on but not doing nothing?!
    What kind of adults? they are?
    If they are security people as it says on that screen, they should be punished plus all the people around who didn’t do anything to stop/help…

    Are that scared today that we’re not able to help people who are in trouble?

    • Deb

      I live near Seattle and saw this on my evening news – just made me feel absolutely sick inside to see all of those bystanders doing not one damn thing to help! Horribly sick to my stomach.

  15. I agree – this is the last thing I want my kids to see. Images of violence and death stay with us, and I certainly don’t want to plant those upsetting pictures in my kids’ minds. It’s hard enough to learn that someone died during the Olympics, or was beaten while adults just stood and watched. I don’t need film to drive home the fact.

  16. I do not like seeing these things…I have been caught off guard many times and my heart just feels like it’s been pulled out of me. My husband is deployed…so I am alone with my young kids ALWAYS. I try to limit some of the exposure of horrific world happenings to myself…so that I don’t get myself upset & spend all night crying alone in bed.

    That said, I do think I have to address the sex attitude…I work as a doula…and during my training I was with a very international group (I lived in Florida at the time and for many of the nearby islands, Florida was their nearest destination for the classes). Of course human sexuality was the biggest part of the topic! The whole reason we have babies to help mom deliver is because of sex…and during one of our breaks we kind of broke off the main topic and were talking about sexual attitudes and education in the island nations represented. One of the consitencies was that America was so “repressed” sexually. No naked people on TV, our movies are censored & rated. But the more we talked the more I learned that they were never taught about sex, or experienced nakedness with another human unless it was their mother or their husband…they didn’t get taught about menstrual cycles or how conception works. You learned about sex from your husband…”Where does he learn it from, then?” was MY question…Lol. And there was a lull while they kind of pondered that and an older woman from Trinidad & Tobago said, “PROSTITUTES!” We all had a chuckle…but I think she was serious!

    But in the US, a girl learns about menstruation in the 5th grade. Assuming parents sign that permission slip, she knows exactly what’s going to be happening. A few years later there is a more in depth approach and you learn EXACTLY how that sperm & egg get together. So…would I rather be a little prudish or squeamish about sexual images on TV (or in emails, lol), but have the oppurtunity to learn and discuss sexual health & reproductive information freely?? You betcha.

    And FWIW, I am as equally concerned about general violence. I have stopped cartoons b/c I just felt it was too much for my kids…even being a cartoon (so obviously this Olympics death would be too much). I just HATE the thought that one day I would be watching some daily news…and suddenly see a horrific incident and realize it’s MY baby that’s laying on a stretcher bleeding to death. It’s disgusting…I could have gone my whole life without seeing what happened to that young man…My sister is 21…I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I saw her lifeless body being tossed about and then have people announcing that she’s been killed.

  17. It all sucks. To me, no one instance of violence is worse than the other. It’s all horrible and tragic.

  18. The luge is a tragic death and my hearts go out to his family and friends. But I am far more concerned about the beating. How can so many people watch this and do nothing. Why do the security guards do nothing.

    It is shameful and outrageous and it concerns me. It is already far too easy to ignore the homeless people that stand outside supermarkets and on freeway off ramps. That is not great by any means, but this is a step beyond.

    Too many people circle the wagons and worry solely about themselves. I can’t stop thinking about how much money is being sent to Haiti and how much isn’t being spent here in the U.S.

    To be clear, we need to help the Haitians, but we shouldn’t forget about what is happening in our own backyard.

    • P.S. I accidentally deleted Nodar Kumaritashvili’s name. I didn’t mean for it to be left as Luge.

  19. Stephen - NYC

    I am not a parent, so I can’t speak from that perspective. I’ve been insulated from the evening news is obscene problem for years since I don’t watch the evening news. I also stopped watching the corporate games years ago (basically, when they became corporate and not really about games).
    That being said, I agree that it’s not really necessary for the broadcasters to show the video to make the point.
    And I am not suggesting that you don’t watch the games with your kids, but rather understand the fact that the broadcasting of the games is all about money and if the collective ‘they’ feels the need to show a video of something they feel will increase the ratings, well, they are going to do so. And depending on the specifics, it might be something that they tease you about all night or they might actually show it after the next commercial break. Hopefully they will give you information so that you can decide beforehand if it’s something you want your kids (or even yourself) to watch. W/R/T the crash, knowing that it happened, I would have been surprised if the opening ceremonies didn’t show anything about it. I’m assuming they did since, as I mentioned, I don’t watch ’em. Therefore you might need to be aware of what happened earlier in the day before you sit down at 8pm to watch the stuff.

  20. There was a news clip circ-ing last year about a baby carriage getting hit by a train in Europe .

    “It’s OK to watch because the baby was fine”

    NO. As a mother, it was NOT ok for me to watch. And I didn’t watch it. Because maybe my empathizer gland is more sensitive than others. I CANNOT imagine the sheer horror of the parents of the baby….to see that happen to a stranger’s child, let alone your own?!?!?!

    I haven’t seen the luge footage. I really shy away from TV news, for this reason. I prefer to read my news online. READ. That way, I can stop reading something that is upsetting and bury my head in the sand. Ignorance is bliss.

  21. I was disgusted by the fact that the video on Nodar’s death was shown on TV. Not only was it shown but it was shown repeatedly, in the same broadcast and then rebroadcast again later. I had to change the channel because not only was I upset but I thought my 15 year old sister was going to cry.

    The fight was almost worse for me because one human inflicted that on another human and I can’t fathom that sort of behavior. I had to turn it off pretty quickly. And frankly, I don’t want to see nudity or sex on TV either. That is just as personal and inappropriate in my opinion.

  22. I saw this piece on PBS’ Now yesterday and thought of this post:

    http://bit.ly/c2tGES

    While the segment is titled “Caring About The Congo”, the connection to this post is in the documentary filmmaker’s comments about journalism, the American audience and “physic numbing”. It’s worth watching the entire 25 minute report.

    FYI – with regard to the security guards not acting in Seattle: from what I understand, they and most security guards are prohibited (they will be fired) to act. The shock for me are the people, who are not security guards, just standing around.

  23. I starting watching the Olympics right when the Opening Ceremony started – 8pm? They showed the accident once – just the luger hitting the structure. After that, when they spoke about his death, they said that they wouldn’t be showing the video then or at any time in the future. I thought they were pretty classy about the whole thing. Perhaps I missed the unclassy part before the ceremony started.

  24. I was innocently watching the olympics with my 6 year old son when they started showing the video over and over and over again. At the time I had no idea it had happened so was as shocked as my kid was. Needless to say he was traumatized. Now all he can say about the olympics is that “I am NEVER going to try the luge.”

  25. Doing what’s right always trumps following the rules, in my opinion. And in the instance of the security guards standing by…if they can’t intervene…what are they keeping secure?

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