I’ve been debating writing this blogpost because I genuinely believe that the men who commit these crimes want the publicity and that that publicity is the last thing we should be giving them; as Helen Lewis points out in this article in the New Statesman. I dislike how the names of these violent men become part of the cultural landscape whilst their victims names are erased; only to be mourned by close family. At the same time, I find the media intrusion into the families of the victims to be utterly horrifying. I’m not entirely sure how we can ensure that the names of the victims become more important than remembering the name of their murderer without some intrusion into their privacy.
However, I can not believe it is legal for the media to start interviewing people who have just witnessed violence without even giving them a chance to breathe. I find the the jamming of microphones into the faces of injured people utterly hateful. I find camping on the lawns of extended family members distateful. This isn’t about “reporting” a “newsworthy” story. It’s about causing more hurt to an already distressed family. As long as we make violence our entertainment, we will continue to prey upon people who deserve our compassion; not our ignorance.
The numerous, daily examples of male violence are elided from the media in favour of sensationalist stories which make folk heroes of other violent men. We need to start acknowledging the systemic and endemic violence perpetrated by men against their partners, children, extended family, acquaintances and strangers. But, we need to start tackling this issue without glamourising the violence or using the pain of the victims for our collective entertainment.
The current media representations of the mass shooting in Aurora have been the same old sensationalist shite designed to cause further hurt rather than any attempt to deal with the social, political, and cultural reasons as to why mass shootings are increasing. That is the real story; not one in which the murderer becomes more important than those he hurt. We need to hold the media more accountable for sensationalising pain. However, those who consume these stories are just as guilty as those who write them.
We need to start boycotting all forms of media which sensationalise violence in society. We need to start making formal complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. We need to start getting our media coverage from sources interested in justice rather than profit.