clap clap blog: we have moved

Friday, December 02, 2005
Speaking of child abuse, we caught some of a Dateline segment last night, about a Russian girl who was adopted by an American man through an adoption agency and was subsequently abused and used in child porn. It's a horrible story, and given that the girl herself was brave enough to go on-camera and talk about it in public, it seems like all you'd really need to do is tell it straight and then delve into the fact that apparently there's no requirement in Pennsylvania that children adopted from foreign countries have to be monitored by a social worker. I imagine Frontline, say, would have done a fantastic job.

But no. Watch the clip for yourself--they seem determined to present it in the ickiest way possible, from the music to the weird sentimentality to the way she's being interviewed. I mean, the girl is clearly mature enough to tell her story for herself, she doesn't need some dude in a suit leaning in and saying in a breathy voice, "Did he hurt you?" or if she does, you don't need to include that dude in the broadcast. To say it's almost titilating is an understatement.

Probably the most egregious bit is at the end, where they flash examples of the kiddie porn pictures she was used in, but white out her body, leaving the surroundings. Now, sometimes when they do this it's OK, because you can't really tell what the picture was like before. But sometimes they do it in such a way that it's clear what the picture was of. In one, there's simply no way around it--it's obvious from the outline that it's a picture of a person with her legs spread, and then they cut from this directly to video of the girl herself. It's just absurdly gross. Guys, if you hate kiddie porn, don't show it, even in modified form, in your report about a girl who was raped, ok?

(I mean, there's a reason for that Brasseye episode--to make abundantly clear just how repulsive these sorts of reports are.)

Is this really the only way to do this? Do we only respond to accounts of horrible things when we're hit over the head with them, when they're presented in the most exaggerated light possible? I don't know. But I sure do wish TV news organizations, from local stations up to the newsmagazines, would stop doing shit like this.