Reality Television and The Casey Anthony Saga (podcast)

So here I am, just one week after the royal wedding extravaganza plus the final of American Idol, flipping through the channels, and I come upon HLN where there is this amazing spectacle. It is the trial of Casey Anthony, who is accused of being involved in the murder of her 2 year-old daughter.

Listen Dr. Miller reading this article at the end of the post!

This is reality television! We are in the courtroom eavesdropping on a life and death drama through the unblinking eye of the TV camera. There’s a split screen Casey Anthony Trial Image shot with Casey on one side and her father in the witness stand on the other.  We watch the frozen expression on her face and on that of her detective father as he tries to avoid implicating his daughter as he explains why he did not call the police when he smelled the unmistakable odor of a dead body in the car. Then, the newsroom takes over and we watch warm and touching films of Kaylee playing with her grandfather.

The newscaster asks us, “Is he covering up for his daughter for killing the granddaughter he loved so much?” Right there in my face he is saying that, and in the face of the entire country? Extraordinary.

And then at the end of the day the local legal pundits review the interesting parts of the trial. And it is billed as “your story” and people are invited to comment. Some comment by phone, some by email, and others are interviewed on camera.

The trial of Casey Anthony is a cultural event – a time of shared interest and shared attention – no less than the royal wedding or the superbowl. Just like we used to talk about Dallas around the water cooler or Days of Our Lives in the supermarket checkout line – now we have this to share the next day. Imagine all the conversations in beauty shops, lunchrooms, and such. This is a cultural event.

Then I begin to think: “is this like the Roman Amphitheater, and we are watching the battle between a lion and a bear or gladiators and Christians?” The story certainly has that blood-lust attraction, just the kind of sensational blood and guts that the media knows we love. As they say in the newsroom, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

Just as in the OJ trial, people are taking sides. And why not? The storyline is as good as any good whodunit movie – except that it’s real!

Here’s my take: Whether or not such a spectacle as this is simply another representation of the blood lust that spawned the Roman Amphitheaters, Professional Wrestling, and the Superbowl I will not comment on – one thing that is quite clear to me that something remarkable is happening here!

One thing I am awed by is the very immediacy of each thing that happens. Millions of eyes are intent upon this flicker of an eyelash, tightening of the lips, unconscious blink, or change in posture. How can it be that so many people are mentally and emotionally involved in such a personal and intimate event. An attractive young woman on trial for her life – accused of murdering her own daughter. Now there’s a story line worthy of Agatha Christie.

As is my habit, I find myself thinking, “Is there a positive, healing purpose that this phenomenon, that this technology can serve.” I have been writing for decades about the coming of the time that human beings can take control of their home planet – what I refer to as “Healing Our Planet.” And I continue to believe that this can happen easily and quickly if we but discover how to use our technology properly. We have the most amazing global system of computers and machines disposal – but we don’t appear to have the Operating Instructions.

The 9/11 terrorists were able to use ten dollars worth of box cutters to redirect our technology (the planes and the sheer size of the towers) to create a profound global shift in consciousness).  Similarly, the Internet, the cell phone, Facebook, twitter, for instance – these technologies have all changed the course of human life.

(This same technology can be used to focus millions of minds on the truly very important drama we all living through together.) How remarkable that our technology has reached the point of being able to allow a huge number of people be present for such a personal event, and to then be able to call or write in and have their very impassioned views aired.

They say the purpose of the shaman in a tribe is to take individual personal experiences and make them collective events – like a wedding – or to take a community event and make it personal, like celebrating when the hometown wins.

The Media – Our Cultural Shaman

(So is television – or more generally, media – our cultural shaman.)

That’s what’s happening here. The recent royal wedding ceremony, for example, is an event designed to take the very personal experience of a couple making vows to love each other and turn it into a collective experience. The Media then takes this national event and amplifies it throughout the world. Think of the global event that was the death of Princess Diana.

What if we used our skills to create a series of events that enabled larger and larger groups of people to explore and learn collectively, to access their collective intelligence, and evoke the collective wisdom that we need in order to use the fantastic power we possess to change the course of mankind for the better.

We are clearly headed off a cliff, about to be done in by, disasterous financial decisions, corruption, polarization, terrorist thinking (suicide bombs, torture, prejudice), peak oil, and catastrophic climate change. Not just destruction, but SELF-destruction!

The good news is that we can completely reverse this if we come together and enable ourselves to think differently. In addition to how we usually look at things, we need to also look at the world through eyes unclouded by fear, anger, lust or greed. We need to acknowledge the vital importance of seeing the truth in every issue from abortion to global warming.

We need to see the need for and develop empathy and compassion, or, as Einstein said, “find fulfillment by succeeding in attaining a love and an understanding of people, and animals, and plants, and stars, so that every joy becomes your joy and every pain your pain?”

Meanwhile watching the Casey-watchers is as fascinating as watching the spectacle itself. Oh, if we only paid that much attention to something of real importance to each of us.


Press ‘Play’ to listen!


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