Editorial: April 29 not a night for pretty sights
It's Tuesday night, April 29. "George, turn the channel. I'm getting tired of this movie." George turns the channel and finds the same scenes.
Tonight the same show is being broadcast on all the major channels. The show of violence, the show of bloodshed, the show of horror.
Last week marked a week of battles among broadcasters and journalists in which each tried to display the most gruesome acts, the most tearful stories until every citizen was so sick of hearing of distress and pain and brutality and of the 56,000 American lives that were lost and of the millions of dollars that were wasted that he could hardly stand to hear the words "United States."
From 7:30 PM (a time when many children are glued to the TV) until midnight Tuesday night, the three major TV stations televised accounts of our involvement in Vietnam. Featured were actual battle scenes, segments showing macabre forms of death, and interviews with people who have directly suffered because of the war.
Running for four and a half hours was a broadcast of the most unjustified, senseless, revolting treatment of man, but a few nasty words are cut from a late movie, and such shows as "Mannix" and "Canon" (in which at least the good guy always wins) have been criticized as being too violent.
A man is hanged; a soldier is shot in the head; starving, diseased children stare out at us; a mound of bodies is in flames; innocent people are bombed; and two American soldiers playfully swing a stretcher carrying a dead man back and forth before throwing him onto the pile of dead bodies. Yet we watch this injustice more closely than we've ever watched the "Hawaii Five-O" show it was replacing.
Is it the horror of it all? Is it the bizarreness that seizes our attention? Or is it the fact that our lives are so boring that we need a little excitement (as long as it's thousands of miles away) to spice up the drab routine?
In any case, our interest was sparked for a while. The TV stations made their money. And we turned the sets off at midnight, thinking only of the buttered pecan rolls Mom bought for breakfast next morning.