Monday, August 28, 2006

TV: Is Conan O'Brien an Insensitive Prick?

Yesterday morning there was an unfortunate and tragic plane crash in Lexington, Kentucky. There were 49 people killed and one is in critical condition. Yesterday evening Conan O'Brien hosted the Emmy Awards for the second time. He did a little stand-up routine to open up the show and then a montage spoofing the top shows on television. One of these skits, which was very funny by the way, was goofing on the hit show Lost. The fake plane our intrepid host was flying in experienced turbulence which forced him to hide in the overhead compartment. It flashed forward a step to Conan washing up onto an island. The question is, was Conan and NBC aware that earlier that morning a plane had crashed in Kentucky? If they had known should they have pulled the gag and replaced it with something else? Are people in this country so wound up about anything and everything that they go looking for controversy when none exists?

NBC apologized later this afternoon for the skit, but personally I don't think they really had to. It is sad when human life is lost, and it would have been over the top if in that same skit they showed a beached plane or blood or anything of a graphic nature. They didn't; it was tasteful and it was a parody of a show that happened to involve a plane crashing. There is no smoking gun here, no one was making fun of people dying or trying to create an uproar, I can assure you. Apparently the station manager, Tim Gilbert, at WLEX in Lexington, KY does not agree with me. He was shocked and stunned by it and that an apology from NBC wouldn't even make up for the insensitivity. Sounds like grandstanding to me - this guy should be ashamed of himself. People have to start to understand that bad things happen all the time. Moreover, bad things happen all the time to people who are not Americans, and no one seems to complain that it's insensitive to go on with our lives - even laughing now and then. It seems we're so wound up, we're becoming megalomaniacs - beginning to think our lives and our affairs are more important than thousands of people killed in a hurricane in Guatemala, or tens of thousands killed in an earthquake in India. Where are the people protesting the insensitivity of disaster flicks in the wakes of such tragedies? There surely are some, but they don't seem to make the headline news on CNN. Not that we need more protests, though a little more awareness wouldn't hurt.

It was unfortunate that the crash happened at all, much less on a day that someone decided to do a little skit about a plane that crashes. Luckily for us we don't have that many plane crashes in our country, but that they do happen it is apart of life, and so is the healing power of laughter. Laughter gets us through the hard and sometimes cruel nature of existence. I think people need to relax and stop reacting to things so quickly. Is this a rational argument - did someone truly intend to hurt someone else physically or mentally? So give Conan and NBC a break. They've had a tough couple of years. They didn't crash the plane in Kentucky and they sure as hell didn't make fun of it. It was just one of those things.

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