Gory Do We Need to Get?
graphic pictures in an advertisement published in a leading
Bangla daily last week were highly disturbing and in extremely
bad taste, to say the least. Issued by Awami League, it portrayed
the years of failure, i.e., the crimes committed during the
last three years of BNP rule.
nothing new. From public meetings to political statements,
it is usual for all our parties to highlight -- more than
their own achievements -- the failures of their opponents.
They can be general, specific, or even personal. But to do
this through the publication of horrifying pictures, and in
a newspaper at that, seems beyond all limits of decency. The
people feel the brunt of the government's failure (whichever
government may be in power) through their own sufferings as
well as through revelations in the media. They need not be
hammered into their heads in gruesome, graphic detail. And
while such ads may serve the purpose of the party to an extent,
neutral readers may, ironically, be disgusted enough to turn
against both the party and the paper.
media training, journalists are taught to weigh the odds of
showing graphic pictures in the media. There is always the
question of just how much the audience really needs to see
to get the message. During war, famine, or any other unfortunate
social situation, there are countless photographs and video
shots taken that are never shown to the public. Simply, because
they need not be. In newspapers or on television, revealing
the facts, through both words and pictures, is enough. The
taking of a life is brutal enough in itself, without depicting
in grisly detail exactly what happened. The message usually
gets through. A person shot dead is a person shot dead --
even without the image of the bullet piercing through his
chest with blood spurting out.
much power as the pen or the word may have, photographs and
visuals have a much stronger impact on the human mind. Granted,
the job of the media is to tell the truth, to show what happened,
but the limits of decency should also apply. There is little
justification for publishing an advertisement containing twenty-odd
pictures of brutal crimes that took place days, months and
even years ago. Remnants of brains lying around on a blood-stained
street after a bomb attack, bodies cut up into several pieces,
along with almost equally descriptive captions, need not and
should not be shown -- especially to those who should probably
not see them.
solus on the back page of a national daily is accessible to
children and the elderly alike, not to mention any normal
person with a natural aversion to blood and gore. We get our
daily dose of gore from newspapers and television anyway --
at the expense of becoming desensitised, many argue. When
something affects us even worse than usual, more than making
a point, it ends up causing non-clinical insomnia, leaving
a dark scar in the mind and a sickening bitterness in the
throat for days.
little from our political leaders anymore, though there is
always the last hesitant flicker of hope in our hearts that
perhaps one in a hundred times they will prove us wrong and
surprise us by saying or doing something right. The only surprise
is that it is actually possible for them to fall lower in
the media at least, we expect a minimal level of decency.
The job of the media is "to sell and tell", we're
taught in journalism class. While the emphasis put on selling
over telling is sad but often true, we can at least try and
refrain from being completely sold out.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004