Why did I watch that?

As I’ve stated many a time, I work mornings at a news station. Well, about ten minutes ago while running scripts to the audio and director booths, I walked past the tape op as he was fidling with this video we received I believe from CNN.

It was a police helicoptor video following a man in a redish/brown Jeep Cheroke type vehicle as he raced from the police. It follows him drive around at a good 90 mph+ pace, until while speeding on the feeder road, he bumps another car, looses control, his car flips over four lanes of traffic until it hits the median wall, at which point he is ejected from the driverside window, thrown about fifteen feet into oncoming traffic, and run over by a car.

Now, I knew what was going to happen, because when I first showed up, the video was paused in the aftermath…I saw smashed car in the middle of the road, but didn’t notice the person yet. As they rewound it, everyone else who’d already watched it informed me what I was in for, and I stayed none-the-less.

Why? Why do people have this kind of obsession with death? I did sketch comedy for UT’s student station, and in there we had a video of a senetor who, upon realizing an upcoming enditement was going to ruin his carreer and life, called a press conference and shot himself in the head (the band Filter’s song, “Hey Man, Nice Shot” was supposedly inspired by this event), and many of my friends had watched it. I had been given the offer, yet turned it down. I’m glad I did, but I have to admit, there are times still when I’m tempted to ask one of my friends who still works there to dig it out for me. I don’t see dead bodies often (although the news has been a little more liberal about that lately), so there is something somewhat tempting about it. Yet, at the same time, it’s not something I want to bare witness to. This video I watched earlier was a classic example of the “Horrible Car Wreck” syndrom…it’s terrible, but for some reason, you’re captivated. Why is that?

Just to venture a guess, but it’s because (a) death fascinates/frightens us (which is good, that’s a survival instinct), and (b) we don’t see it very often in today’s society.