All posts by Dave

Panic 9-1-1 Made Its Debut. Might Be Too Harsh for TV Though

Well,at least for now it looks like this show is offer the air. I originally wrote this piece around the time of the 3rd episode (Dec 2012)-where I predicted the show wouldn’t last too long. And right on cue the show went off the air. I think it might come back in a few weeks after the dust settles. Maybe late January 2013

So what happened. Well, a bunch of (white) kids got pretty bad deaths at the hands of a gunman, then a different guy shot up some people in a mall, then ANOTHER guy shot up some firemen in upper NY. In fact I think ANOTHER dude got shot in the heads in broad daylight in crowded-ass NYC. So here in Chicago tons of (black) kids have been getting shot to death for several years running and people just sort of go  “tsk, tsk, tsk, those people…” but it’s been very sad.  Real life crime is pretty tough on the system, and trying to market it as entertainment is a dicey trick. it CAN be done but it needs a certain amount of buffering. 911 calls are the pure, uncut stuff–and then to ADD reenactments! Sheesh.

The A&E network debuted a new show recently and it’s called Panic 9-1-1. And by the way those hyphens are part of the title, I assume that’s because they want to make sure you can tell the difference between 911 the event and their show.

I’ve watched the first two episodes and tonight a third episode is coming on. So far I’ve seen a guy take a gun store hostage I’ve seen a woman at home alone and we had listened to her while she was being stalked and raped, we’ve seen a couple of young girls drown, and of course more attempted rape. Obviously this program is trying to make everybody rush out and buy some sort of ADT home security system. And I think people SHOULD have some kind of  home security and/or in-home secured gun (depending on WHO is living in the house by the way).

But this program is probably doomed to well my thinking is that it comes from an incident that happened a few months ago failure. It’s way too heavy for the average person. There’s a fine line between entertainment and watchability. And I think this program crosses that line. The premise of the program is in the going to take recorded 911 calls and play them back, and that seems pretty okay until you really think about it. It’s not okay because 911 calls are people getting robbed, people getting killed, people getting raped–and you have to listen to it.

So where does a show like this come from? My feeling is that the show comes from an incident that happened a few months where a woman at home alone with her child called an operator and had the asked operator should I kill the people trying to break into my house. And she ended up shooting one of the two guys that broken. And gun activists everywhere finally had their episode they finally had the incident they’ve been talking about for years. And they collectively scream “see I told you so I told you so.” In fact in one episode of the show itself they actually depicted an exact repeat of this episode.

911 kill

But that brings up a good question; who wants to see a show like this? Including all of the reenactments in the commercial breaks that are cliffhangers. There’s tension and then there is unpleasantness. People in America seem to enjoy hearing about crime. But I don’t know if the one I really watch it happen. One of the very first things I did when I get my Internet connection in the mid-nineties was explore the Internet. And one of the things I discovered was a website that was all 911 phone calls and I listen to an old lady have her home and a invaded for about half an hour, and then the rape that follow–the whole thing was on audiotape. But it was very disturbing as you might imagine. And it’s been a full 15 almost 20 years and I haven’t been back any web sites like that. That does not fall under the category of entertainment, it’s interesting to hear that it exist but I don’t know if people wanna watch this type of show on a weekly basis.

As I said the only people who might get into it are gun nuts and security people who want to use it to threaten other people. I tried to hang with it, but I was about to about to bail on the show, I gun in there to write this piece. My really big question was; would they take a racial angle? I mean, when it comes to crime you can VERY easily slant the racial aspect. Recently I think the 25th or 30 new season of “Cops” debuted and for the first….5 solid years it was like all black guys being chased around with a few shirtless/toothless black guy. The show was pretty created during the “crack” craze and all the news looked like a crack show itself. So the show was clearly getting in on the bandwagon.

But after a few years the sheer volume of whit folks doing crime made them spread out and FINALLY include the white criminals. But take a show like A and E’s “the first 48” well, they want murder crimes that need to be solved in 2 days so of course the skews Black. It doesn’t HAVE it, they COULD feature White, Latino and Asian but….it doesn’t feed into the stereotype, so they don’t. But let’s be real, at this stage, I’m more surprised when people do the right thing then when they do the wrong thing, so I’m not about to hit the streets with a  picket sign.