Ebony's Damon Young says the website's video of Andre Lowe getting shot — which doesn't even include his name — is encouraging viewers to justify their feelings about "black thugs." But outrage aside, Young argues, there's no story if there's no audience.
I refuse to watch any footage of an actual person actually dying, and I'm disgusted by those who seek to capture and/or witness the last moments of a person life with a glee, curiosity, and anticipation usually associated with people watching basketball highlight videos. TMZ obviously doesn't agree, as they've provided footage of 19 year old Andre Lowe getting shot to death outside of a Hollywood nightclub, and have refused to remove the footage despite pleads from Lowe's family and a Change.org petition in his honor.
To many of the thousands of people who have viewed and/or commented on this video, Lowe is just another anonymous opportunity to gawk, provide gallows humor, and use him to further justify their feelings about "Black thugs" instead of a person with a family and an actual life. TMZ aids with the process by not naming him, even though they surely know his name by now.
But, while its easy to blame TMZ for this, there is no story if there is no audience. TMZ.com, after all, is a business relying on page views and unique visitors to sustain itself, and if content like this wasn't profitable, they wouldn't air it. Although this particular case disgusts and angers me, every time I click on or joke about some fight or accident that shows a situation where someone could have very easily died, I'm contributing to this culture of desensitization.
Read Damon Young's entire piece at Ebony.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at email@example.com.