I’m fascinated by cults. This morning I am watching a rerun of ABC investigative news show 20/20, “Simon Says”, about a cult. It is airing on Investigation Discovery, owned by media giant Discovery Communications. This particular episode is referring to the Jonestown massacre in Guyana.
Every single other time I’ve ever seen the photos of the Jonestown victims aired on tv, their bodies were not blurred. This includes more tv news shows than I can think of, including shows aired on Discovery Network and the National Geographic Channel, as well as major mainstream media channels. And every other time I’ve seen the Jonestown massacere photos on Investigation Discovery channel before, they’ve shown the sharp ugly lines that define the mass murders.
But this morning, on this innocuous rerun, they were blurred out for some reason. I don’t know if its cuz this is an A.M. broadcast or something, but I’m rather shocked that they blurred out the victims’ bodies, because I’ve never seen it before in my entire life. And that’s A LOT of hours of tv watching. So this is an unusual first for me. I really hope its not a reflection of a new trend.
Blurring out the bodies is like blurring out the truth of what these people went through. There’s a reason we don’t blur out the bodies of Holocaust victims. That would be like robbing them of the last thing they had; their face, their identity, their pain, their suffering, their truth, their story, their reality. Reality. Not our perceptions of it, not our personal versions of it, but actual real Reality. And to blur out their image is to blur the horrific truth of their story. To shield us from the real horrors of living life as a human being, is to rob of us the truth of suffering. Don’t blur out their bodies.
They’ve been airing a lot of Holocaust history lately, post trump election, and so far I have never seen them blur the images of the victims’ bodies. The Jonestown victims should not be blurred either. They were also victims of a psychotic megalomaniac leader. They were also victims of a cult of personality (which is really a redundancy). It is crucial and necessary that the realities of cult massacres, genocide, and other human tragedies, be shown exactly as they occurred. It is disrespectful and wrong to cover up the reality of what was done to them.
I understand (and agree) when seedy tabloid murder shows blur the lines; but this a major mainstream media news magazine, telling the story of THE SINGLE LARGEST AMERICAN LOSS OF CIVILIAN LIFE BEFORE 9/11. Blurring the images of mass murders is wrong. It is a way to mask the horror. It is in blurry shadows that horror can hide, not in the harsh light of truth. I hope this is the first and last time I ever see the blur, or Discovery and I are gonna have words.