Monday, March 14, 2011

Death TV and black humour

You may not realise this, but on Friday a global phenomenon occurred. That phenomenon was a technological one for a technological age. Just as 9/11 made real-life footage dwarfed any disaster movie's capability almost eleven years ago, and the sight of a ship floating on a giant wave miles in land did it again, so to did the technological world of SMS and the sick joke come to pass.

By Friday evening,. many phones across the UK, and probably the world were buzzing with impromptu jokes that alluded to an immensely scary natural disaster the death toll of which is unknown but no doubt in the many thousand. With the buzzing will have also come that odd moment where you snigger and then think "I'm going to Hell because I really shouldn't be laughing at that".

In a way the sick jokes after any massive global news event are, I guess, an extension of the voyeurism we experience during the event. We become transfixed at image, moving or still, of a things that are in themselves horrendous events. Most people wouldn't dream of watching an execution online, but give us a massive event where we don;t actually see the dying up close and we're all there as it were.

What follows then are the jokes. Now, I have no evidence for this, but I wonder if the jokes are a way of dealing with an unconscious guilt at our voyeurism. That, in the face of such bloody awfulness we turn to humour as a way of masking our guilt that we all just gawped at thousands of people dying and, like rubber necking on the motorway just couldn't look away.

We're a funny lot us human being huh?

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