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TV: 'It's amazing, it's just like 2012'


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So, last Friday we saw a huge 8.9 earthquake hit the coast of Japan, with a series of tsunami’s hitting the surrounding islands soon after, as well as multiple aftershocks. The effect on one of the world’s most advanced countries has been frightening, and has reminded us that we are definitely at the mercy of Mother Nature.

The coverage of the quake and after effects has been constantly streaming on our 24-hour news channels, with frightening footage being replayed and replayed until the next shocking clip was sent in, and so on and so forth.

Due to Japan’s love of all these technological, every angle of the tragedy was caught on camera, meaning that here in the UK and around the world, we have seen multiple views of the destructive disaster, as well as very personal on-the-ground footage being sent in from mobile phones.

One scene featured a car that had set on fire with people inside, a full, unreachable train that had overturned, and multiple hospitals swamped up to the fifth or sixth floor, where help is unlikely to be accessed for days on end.

But what we need to realise is this isn’t some Hollywood blockbuster, or shocking American drama. This is real life, and is it about we assessed what is morally right to be aired live, and what is not? Have we become immune to horror, violence and death?

Don’t get me wrong, I was tuned in for as long as the next person, with a lump in my throat as I saw the tsunami’s gather speed and swallow anything in its way. It’s car-crash TV in the respect that most of us sit there knowing we don’t really want to see what happens, but can’t tear our eyes away.

I do think though it’s time we had a look at the coverage of disasters. It’s not some re-constructed Air Scene Investigation show, its people’s lives that are being taken in front of our eyes.

After apocalyptic films such as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow (which I heard one news reader compare the disaster to), we now seem to have be in the mindset that we could watch anything and not feel a duty to turn it off. But why should this be our decision? Why don’t broadcasters have a moral code of what is appropriate for broadcast, instead of ‘Some viewers may find the following scenes upsetting’... Erm yeah?!

It used to be regimented and controlled that no death or incriminating footage that would upset viewers would be aired, but what about our CCTV type footage of the disasters today? Just because we can’t see the faces of the poor people involved doesn’t mean that we aren’t getting what’s going on.

Past events such as 9/11, Saddam’s hanging and Raul Moat’s rampage seem to have made showing such huge events live as the norm. But how far is this going to go?

Camera’s still aren’t allowed in courtrooms to see when the latest cheating footballer chooses to get a super-injunction, or a murderer is sent down for life, but yet we can see the footage of their crimes on repeat on Sky News.

But how can we go back now? Whenever the next disaster hits, or the next criminal is caught, we are going to expect footage of the action, with every detail left in.

Have we gone too far?

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