I don't want to link to the thing I'm going to tell you about. Sorry, but it's horrifyingly bad. If you want to seek it out, that's fine. There's probably enough clues here. Anyway...
I'd seen an ad for a TV news-ish, crap, reality infotainment show on one of the lower-end cable stations. Basically, it was, I thought, a TV version of "The Darwin Awards." Stupid things that people do that get you killed. Yes, killed. Not just hurt, but dead. It's explicit in the name of the show.
I wanted to comment with information about this show on another blog I read (it was marginally related to the topic) so I found the URL for the show, where they had clips from the TV series. I clicked on one to see if it was as bad as I thought it must be.
It was worse. Way worse.
This wasn't the "Darwin Awards." This was just a listing of different and (I guess) interesting ways people can be killed. The obituaries meets "News of the Weird."
On the one I watched, they featured a story about a man who was cut in half, his legs severed just below the waist. Doesn't matter how, though the details of the instrument death were included in a pun that was the title of the clip. Bad enough, right? We're being entertained, in this case, with the story of a guy who was accidentally killed in a horrifying way. The pun in the name of the video means we're also being lightly amused, if the intentions of most punners can be assumed to be "light amusement."
But it gets worse. While telling the story, the narrator marveled that the man was still alive when an ambulance arrived. "The EMTs took him away..."
"... still alive and kicking. More or less."
"Alive and kicking. More or less."
So. We've gone beyond snuff TV, watching car chases and police raids that end in death. Not for the newsworthiness of data about a war or how to respond to crime or even the titilation of a famous person's murder. No. This is "death as light chuckle." This is taking the painful, accidental, gruesome and untimely death of a man and turning it into a not-really-funny punchline.
You used to get this level of humor in local news stories about kids whose lemonade stand got shut down for one reason or another. The local anchorperson, plastic hair gleaming, would close the segment with a line like, "Well... I hope those kids haven't been permanently 'soured' on being entrepreneurs."
Yeah. Sure. Yuck, but... OK. You have to take the shot, I guess.
But not this.
We're punning about a guy who was cut in half, and died three hours later, in the hospital, while doctors tried to save his life.
I have never been tempted to boycott a product based on what shows they advertise on. The connection between advertising and free speech is tricky and fuzzy. Nothing has ever bothered me so much that I thought, "You know what? I'm uncomfortable buying products from a company that would try to make money from this content."
I'm tempted now.
Maybe I'm overreacting. I don't know. This just struck me as really, really evil.
I'll try to come up with a unicorn chaser for later.