ISIS, Casino’s Cornfield Scene, and our Desensitization to Violence

I remember the first time I watched someone die.

Not in real life, of course. I’ve still managed to sidestep that experience as of yet (phew). I am course referring to the stage of growing up experienced by any curious kid raised on the internet. Sooner or later you end up on a site you probably shouldn’t be on. I’m sure you know a few. Well as a pre-teen, I found myself on such a site. It happened to be hosting the suicide of politician Budd Dwyer, which has now gone down in infamy as one of the most recognizable and widely watched recorded suicides on the internet. Hell, it’s even allowed on YouTube for some reason (with 8 million+ views and counting!).

I don’t even know what I expected death to look like. It certainly wasn’t like the movies. I think my first reaction before anything else was “Can that much blood really come out of someone’s nose?” Kill Bill had prepped me for explosive fountains of blood spewing from many things—neck holes, arm sockets, eye sockets—nostrils weren’t one of them. Something I have always found amusingly bizarre about this video is that a lot of the time, in the event of some unexpected or shocking act of violence occurring during a live filming, the camera man typically pans away, runs from his station, or cuts the feed. The guy recording this made sure to stay right on that camera, pan down towards Budd’s limp, fallen body and carefully zoom in to capture all the gory details of his spasming, blood gushing face. That’s a man committed to his profession.

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