This week’s discussion/reading of the Rodney King video as an example of both videohigh and videolow got me thinking of the use of violent video footage in order to draw attention to an issue, and the ethical implications that come along with that.
I’m thinking specifically of the graphic video of Walter Scott who was shot in the back by police while running from them. The video itself is an example of videolow – as it is unedited footage depicting an event. However, this video was so widely circulated for the purpose of convincing people that the event actually happened. I think that it is fair to say that even raw footage can serve the function of convincing people of things in the same way that the article by Fiske describes videohigh.
The media has a particular way of reporting the injustices committed against black people in that it is never reported as being unfair, and usually favours the police officers’ side of events. Similarly, the audience often reacts in the same way – assuming that the cops must have been justified in attacking unarmed citizens. Often, because of how the media has treated black bodies in the past, people think there needs to be solid “evidence” of violence occurring against black people before they will believe it. That’s where the footage of Walter Scott comes in.
This unedited footage functions to convince it’s viewers that police were in the wrong, since it is so undeniable in the video. The problem I have with this is that it seems exploitative to circulate a video of someone being murdered in order to convince an audience that there are injustices occurring against racialized people. Because the footage is unedited, it is more impactful than doctored footage would be, because the audience is able to infer their own (in this case undeniable) conclusion of violence.
Does anyone else take issue with the fact that footage of someone being shot to death is being used as “proof” of something that Black Lives Matter protestors have been attempting to alert the public of? To me, there is something unsettling about the media being so comfortable disseminating such graphic footage, and I wonder if the person who was shot and killed had been white if the footage would be so easily accessible or whether the memory of their death would have been more respected.
Please note, I did not include a link to the video in this post because as mentioned, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of watching someone’s life taken from them.