November 20, 2003
City Alert! Television of the future

I just saw a Swedish documentary on Brazilian crime TV show Cidade Alerta and it was truly an eye opening experience.
The show is the realization of every classic nightmare about invasive, meaningless, live TV turning reality into entertainment while millions watch. The show features live crime TV, but really, really up close in a way that is just not possible in Europe:

  • TV helicopters are airborne for the duration of the show. This is not so spectacular since it is common elsewhere also.
  • Reporters follow police on the ground during calls. They ride along as part of police chases.
  • Suspects are interviewed by reporters at the same time as they are taken into police custody. The rights of the suspects are clearly not so important, since the police officers at the scene seem to happily allow this
  • While the show is on the air we see the producers wrestling with tough questions like this "I have a helicopter circling over the corrupt mayor. Can I stop that to prioritize a child run over by a car?"
  • The tough looking anchor puts on an outrageous show. His finest moment: After reporting the story of a murderer who has just killed his second wife after being released from jail on a sentence for killing his first wife, he launches into an amazing diatribe "You swine! You bastard! You shouldn't be free! You shouldn't live. You deserve a truly ugly wife"
  • (Yes he did say the line with the wife according to the subtitles).
  • While shouting these insults at the camera the anchor 'chops' the palm of one hand in the air with the edge of the other hand - karate style. And - and I am not making this up - as his hands meet, the producers augment the effect of his rage by adding a gunshot sound as one hand impacts on the other.

    This is the realization of classic media nightmares, from 1984 to Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Running Man". I guess it was to be expected that this lowest of all lowest common denominators would come from South America, where poverty is extreme and desires correspondingly elementary

    Posted by Claus at November 20, 2003 01:27 AM | TrackBack (0)
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