(Don't) look away

When I was a kid, I heard rumors about a series of videos called Faces of Death. They weren't available in the video store (yes, the video store, a physical location where one rented videos. That was reality) but somehow, someone they knew (or someone known to someone they knew, whose name they couldn't recall) had watched one of these videos. It was a collection of actual deaths captured on film, snippets of executions, horrific car accidents, and grotesque injuries. Faces of Death was a found-footage snuff film.

The idea was profoundly unsettling, and of course, terribly interesting. I could hardly bring myself to believe that something so perverse really existed. Nowadays, of course, you're only a few keystrokes from watching video of a journalist being beheaded by religious extremists, or a thousand fatal accidents, or a plane crashing into a skyscraper, ending the lives of thousands of people. Like many people, you've probably watched something like this, and been unable to tear yourself away as quickly as you like to think you should. These images haunt us, revolt us, and fascinate us. 

Why can't we look away? Michael Stevens sums up some of the research. Be warned that there are some troubling images in this video, although nothing I would label gory.

One beef I have with this video is that he focuses on the positive side of morbid curiosity, without touching on research about desensitization to violence and violent imagery. Also, I simply could not desensitize myself to the way he pops up into the frame in every single shot.