Monday 3 October 2016
Whether it’s a personal or a global situation, as a species, we seem to be enamoured with human tragedy. I know ‘enamoured’ is a strange word to use, but it seems to me that it’s probably a better descriptive than ‘obsessed’. We gravitate towards tragic events like moths to flames, unable to look away from the scenes in front of us in case we miss something important. What has brought me to this post? I’m glad you asked. It’s been on in the US already, but tonight, we happen to have Dr. Phil’s interview with Burke Ramsey on TV.
Ordinarily, I’d be watching this particular programme for a number of reasons: 1) I’ll put my hand up to enjoying Dr. Phil’s TV shows; 2) I’m interested in true crime, just like millions of other people around the world; 3) Maybe Dr. Phil would be releasing some new evidence in the case; 4) It’s a train crash, and I just have to watch. However, I only managed to get through about twenty-five minutes of the show until I was irritated 1) by the look on Burke’s face, 2) his constant smiling, particularly at times where it was completely inappropriate, 3) John Ramsey’s finger pointing at the cr@p job that the police did with the case, but more importantly, 4) American Horror Story: Roanoke was on a rival channel.
It was evident through another documentary on the Ramsey case that the police investigation had a lot of holes in it. It wouldn’t be the first case that the police have investigated that could have been conducted in a far superior and effective manner, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last case where there’s a certain level of assumption that cocks up the investigative process. However, by and large, police around the world do a solid job. I’m not out to disrespect our men and women in blue, far from it. I think they are, for the most part, special people who do an incredibly tough job, and get a lot of bad press because of the ineptitude of a few. It’s the same with any profession. That’s not really the point of this post though.
Why is there such intense interest in shows that rake up the details and past of cases like that of JonBenét Ramsey case? It’s simple. We’re voyeurs. We have an instinct, an urge to keep watching tragic, gruesome, hideous sights. Think about it. We stop and watch at accident scenes, and we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, especially when we justify it by saying to ourselves that we’re just there to help out if needed. No, we’re really there just to watch the sh!t unfold before us. And these days, not only do we stand back and watch, but we record the events for Social Media purposes, not for posterity, for Social Media and our fifteen minutes of fame.
I suspect one of the reasons we stop to watch tragedy is because we are happy that it is not happening to us. Then, I think, for some people the thought kicks in that they might be able to get money or fame out of whatever footage they capture on their phone cameras. There’s anticipation these days that any footage captured and uploaded to the internet will go viral and create internet celebrities who can then expand their fame beyond the internet into other areas such as literature, art, acting, modelling. Hey, that’s my take on it.
Yep, I’m convinced that as a species, we like a train crash. We like to stop and watch the aftermath. Consider the masses of news reports on world events that end in tragedy, of increasing road tolls, of Presidential debates, of anything to do with Trump. You know what I’m saying is true . . . especially the celebrity train wreck stuff. We’re strange like that, almost revelling in the tragedy and misery of others. I don’t think any other species on this planet does that . . . except maybe cats, because they’re a$$holes. Kittens though, kittens are cute. So what the f*^k happens to them when they become cats? Anyway, that’s beside the point.
Humans like to watch. We’ve voyeurs on a grand scale, and with the introduction of Social Media, and phones that have cameras in them, we’ve simply increased the levels to which we’ll take our voyeurism. And that, quite frankly, is as creepy as f*^k.