The program on the TV last night that showed the guy dying was death porn. Super softcore, but still death porn. If the Daniel Pearl beheading video was XXXXX, then this was some Lover’s Guide titillation-masquerading-as-education shit.
The filmmaker John Zaritsky’s reason for showing it was that if he didn’t show the whole thing then people could think that there was some kind of horrific pain involved. Please. The guy drank sedatives and turned off his ventilator, that was it. It’s not as if, had they panned away while he died, someone was going to sneak up with a hot needle and plunge it into the guy’s brain through his eye socket, or garot the poor bastard with piano wire.
I’m not being all puritanical. And I don’t think it shouldn’t have been shown; I have no strong opinion on assisted suicide – although I’ve got a list of people I’d like to assist. And I completely understand why people have that fascination. Death is something private, like fucking, so, naturally, there’s a curiosity. That’s why people rubberneck at car crashes. That’s why people sat glued to their TVs on 9/11 watching the planes crash into the towers and people jumping to their deaths. It’s completely understandable, no biggie.
The film offered nothing new to the assisted sucide debate. And while all the hoo-ha was going on a judge basically said it was okay. I doubt there were many people who were vehemently against assisted suicide who watched it anyway. Films like this aren’t for them. They’re for people who want to pat themselves on the back for being more more sensitive and sophisticated than a religious maniac who thinks that fossils were left as a test of faith. Well done. Oh and they got to watch someone dying, too. Brilliant.
What I can’t stand is the dishonesty. Most of the people who tuned in last night would probably would tut disapprovingly at people who slow down at car crashes. But it’s okay for them to sit down and watch this and maybe get to jerk their tear boner a bit to the heartbreaking storyline. Then, when it’s done, they can turn over and watch Dog Whisperer or CSI safe in the knowledge that they have now confronted death by watching someone die on TV. It’s bullshit. It’s the same fucked way of thinking that makes people think they can solve poverty by going to a concert in Hyde Park. TV is passive you can’t deal with or confront death on TV
And what’s all this ‘people don’t confront death’ and ‘people don’t deal with death’ stupidness? I don’t buy it. Ever been to an Irish Catholic wake – it’s a party and the corpse is the guest of honour. We just confront death differently because we live longer and there’s less of it. People confronted death more years ago because death was all around them. Even rich people died of cholera. Now it’s just poor schmucks in Zimbabwe and Calcutta.
We all have to confront death at some point. Some of us will have to will have to – or already have – watch a loved one die slowly and painfully from a chronic illness. It’s not great. If you want to confront death before then, become a war photographer or an undertaker. I’ll let the dead comedian George Carlin have the final word…