Editorial Board 1999-2000
The weekend death of a well known and respected race car driver, Canadian Greg Moore, has further illustrated an unfortunate, although increasingly popular interest of television watchers in North America.
After losing control of his car in Sunday's race, Moore spun off the track, collided with a wall and rolled over numerous times, practically shredding the car to pieces and causing the driver to lose consciousness. Approximately one hour after being rushed to the hospital, Moore was pronounced dead. This all happened on live television.
The few racing fans who missed the original airing of the race, however, were not at a loss because only hours after the original broadcast, CBC showed the race in its entirety once again a morbid and unethical thought. Or was it?
True, the decision to replay the race may rub some television viewers the wrong way. Although some may see the rerun as a heartless, insensitive and shameless way for the CBC to increase their ratings, the truth of the matter is that's what the viewers wanted to see.
Whether replaying an entire event or showing repeated clips on news casts which eventually become talk show fodder, with every gruesome event caught on tape, it seems television's watching public is looking to catch a glimpse of what the hype is all about. They want to see the gore and blood of real life and as long as the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission allows it, television broadcasting companies have every right to run such programs.
The instances are numerous. Only a few short months ago, the World Wrestling Federation's Owen Hart fell to his death live on pay-per-view when a stunt he was performing went terribly wrong. In fact, Hart died about five more times the following day when various news agencies replayed the tragedy.
And who could forget the misfortune which took place in Columbine this past summer, where secondary students were gunned down in the halls of their own school by classmates. The truth is, the event is unforgettable. It's unforgettable because if the evening news wasn't running an update on the situation, then you could bet a pretty penny that either Oprah, Sally or even Leeza were broadcasting specials.
What's even worse than any of these examples is the realization that most young people today recognize John F. Kennedy, solely based on the fact the footage of his assassination has been run on television hundreds of times. It was the epitome of tragedy at the time and best of all, it was caught on tape.
Unfortunately, this North American "need to know" public is not a situation which can be cleared up by shooting the messenger. The CBC cannot be blamed for replaying a race the world who missed it the first time, was waiting to see. It's the viewers who are to blame for their seemingly grosteque desire to witness human tragedy.
Unfortunately, in situations such as this, it's the friends and family of the victims who aren't rushing to the boob tube for the latest details.