Let's Get With the Program


    It's time we learn something from TV. Since police drama, emergency rescue, and pathos reenactments of all kinds prove to be so popular and profitable, why not put them to work for the general public. If tabloid TV sells, why leave all the profit to commercial producers? There's room for government--and ultimately every citizen--to profit.
    Local governments respond daily to tragedies without number, but they don't carry video cameras. What a wasted opportunity! TV viewers have to watch reconstituted mayhem, while the real thing could be broadcast in all its glory.
    With governments everywhere underfunded, it can only be poor management to pass up the opportunity to cash in on tragedy, violence, and pathos.
    Just think of the revenues to be had if police, fire, and rescue crews carried video cameras. The graphic images of people maimed and dying in twisted wrecks could be marketed to TV producers, with enormous profits accruing to municipal governments that badly need the cash. Fire in an apartment building?--Cash in! City governments could even have separate video production units trained specifically to catch gory drama on film.
    Now follow me, because this is where it gets good. If the public profits from crime by selling video footage of corpses in pools of blood, of drug raids and arrests, then crime and tragedy become a boon to the economy. Poof--crime is no longer a problem: it's a photo opportunity. We could make crime economically healthy! And surely the relatives of crime victims would be gratified knowing that their loved ones got to be on TV. Picture this--The 911 call comes in: "The Seven-Eleven at 9th and Main is being held up! They've got guns! Send help--hurry!"
    Now the dispatcher goes to work, "Video Unit One, respond to a 600 in progress at 9th and Main." And then, calling a uniform cruiser, "Car 54, provide back-up to video one at 9th and Main."
    With any luck the video people can get a good shot of the perps in action at the crime scene. And if the cops get there in time to confront the gunmen, it'll all be on tape--squealing tires, flashing emergency lights, gunfire, blood, and broken glass. Now that sort of footage is worth some serious bucks. Why leave it to the freelancers?
    Remember the original O.J. Simpson video, the white Ford Bronco traveling the freeway for an hour and a half with a phalanx of cop cars right behind? You know who got that on tape? A freelancer in a helicopter--what a waste. If L.A. had had a video chopper, that whole deal could have been putting dollars in the public coffers. But short-sighted public policy is cheating taxpayers out of their due, just because some people have reservations about broadcasting exciting footage. (There are those who say that all this preoccupation with the lower elements of life brings us down a notch.) Hey, it's gonna be on the tube anyway--O.J. was.
    And what about court TV? I'm sorry but Judge Wapner just doesn't cut it. That stuff's too tame. Who cares if a dog ruined someone's carpet? In real courtrooms all over our great country are torn up families clawing themselves to pieces and murder trials good enough to make O.J. and the Menendez brothers look about as exciting as left-over cereal. Why can't we all watch? Just think about the tax cuts we could enjoy if all that good stuff were for sale.
    Then too, in light of O.J.'s post-trial video, aren't we tax-payers missing out? Strapped cities could recoup some of the costs of justice with productions like, "Lance Ito and Mark Fuhrman Reflect" only $29.95, "Up Close and Personal, With the Jailers From ______________'s Block"--fill in the name: McVeigh, Manson, or whoever makes headlines locally. The possibilities are limitless.
    Camcorders are cheap. Train the camera operators, and cash in. You may need lighting crews for night scenes--and also for full effect--but that's a small matter.
    Let's be nineties-people. There's a gigantic opportunity here, and we need only seize it. All civic-minded people should demand that their governments respond. After all, network TV responded to our demand for sensationalism, why shouldn't our elected officials?

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