Monday, April 20, 2009

Oprah pulls Columbine special

So in case you didn't know, I have been fascinated of late by the articles about Columbine which tell us that the facts are actually different than what we've thought for the last 10 years. My journalistic mind can't resist finding out the details. I'm desperate to learn as much about it as I can, and so I set my DVR to record today's Oprah, for the first time in my life.

However, a friend asked me earlier today what I DVR'd Oprah for, and in trying to send her a link from Oprah's website that explained that she was running a special today on the truth about Columbine to commemorate the 10th anniversary, I realized the website's description of today's show sounded nothing like the teaser I saw on TV last night. Confused, I checked my Google reader, where I saw this post from Jezebel, and then I proceeded to visit Oprah's Facebook page, where I saw this status update:

"To Our Viewers: I decided to pull the Columbine show today. After reviewing it, I thought it focused too much on the killers. Today, hold a thought for the Columbine community. This is a hard day for them. --Oprah"

What do you guys think of this? Obviously I haven't seen the show she was going to air today, but I question the wisdom of pulling the Columbine show altogether. I know Oprah isn't exactly a Serious Journalist anymore, but the fact that what we're finding out about Columbine ten years later is completely different from what we thought we knew seems like something important to cover on the 10th anniversary of the shootings.

I realize that I am overly fascinated by the minds of serial killers, mass murderers, etc (mostly because I find them impossible to understand) -- and probably unhealthily obsessed with movies and articles and news coverage about these occurrences. But I also am an advocate for knowing the truth of a situation. Do you think doing a show about what really happened glorifies the killers too much, which, it turns out, is just what they wanted? If so, why wouldn't Oprah do a show with a more balanced focus, partly about what we didn't know about that day and partly about the survivors and where they are now, kind of like what the Today Show did this morning? Why cancel it altogether?

I think it's worse to pull the show. I know Oprah is just one woman, but she is a powerful woman who determines the discourse for a lot of people in this society. In my humble opinion, it's easier to prevent something like Columbine from happening again if we truly understand what happened. That it wasn't just simply the kids' parents, or Prozac, or the trenchcoat mafia, or the jocks in school, who were to blame. That a parent had called in a concern a year before the attack. That these kids were making enough bombs to blow the school to bits (as well as parents, journalists and cops who would have gathered outside), because that was their intention (the shootings were a backup plan), and that if they had more money or better directions, they probably would have succeeded. These are facts that the demographics who watch Oprah while kids are down for naps need to know. I find Oprah pulling the show to be questionable at best. But I could be totally off base. Include your thoughts in the comments.

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