I can’t get this out of my head. I came across a news item this morning on MSNBC about a UN-commissioned public service spot on stopping landmines that’s hardly getting any airtime. Turns out I’m a bit behind the curve on this one, as news of this hit the blogs over a month ago:
The explosion appears to kill and injure some girls, sparking panic and chaos among parents and other children. Shrieks of horror are heard through much of the spot, and a father is shown cradling his daughter’s lifeless body, moments after celebrating a goal she had scored.
It closes with a tag line reading: “If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere? Help the U.N. eradicate landmines everywhere.”
It’s not a graphic video at all — just a puff of smoke and dirt, chaos and confusion, and a limp body. But it still manages to connect at a very visceral level. You can talk about landmines all you want, but there’s something about a visual depiction that is so much more effective at getting the message across.
A little too effective for the tv networks, it seems. We enjoy our reality tv, as long as it’s not too real. We can watch movies like Saving Private Ryan, because that’s history and wasn’t it tough back then? We can even handle live footage of a war going on (now with New Improved Embedded Reporting!), because that’s what soldiers are paid for, as long as it doesn’t get too graphic. But the hypothesis that you and your family can be going about your everyday life and suddenly lose a leg or, you know, a child, because someone buried a landmine fifty years ago and forgot about it? And the truth that for far too many people in the world that’s not a hypothesis but their reality? That people really live like that? No, that’s a little too close to home. Thanks, tv networks, for keeping our bubble firmly intact. Thank goodness we didn’t have to collectively think about that one.
Whatever. I’m still shaking from seeing the video. StopLandmines.org has the streaming video (Windows Media format), or you can get the 8Mb Quicktime version here. Yes, it’s disturbing. That’s the point.