Monday, January 28, 2013

RIP Challenger crew

[Photo via SpaceX]

It was 28 years ago. I got up at the crack of dawn to watch the Challenger launch. I witnessed the explosion live. Heard the disbelief and horror in the news anchor's voice as he described a scene gone so terribly off script. It was gruesome... Spent the rest of the day in a near trance, watching the sanitized video loop a thousand times while I struggled with my own shock and grief.

It was also the day I realized video can lie, even on the news. The loop didn't nearly capture the searing violence of that moment. Perhaps for the best that most were spared the memory. It's long been burned in my mind. Even now I can can feel the confusion when the smoke trail goes off course... and the sorrow when what happened became clear.

I don't need to watch the video to relive it. Nor to remember they didn't show most of this in the loop that played over and over and over again.

At that time the editing struck me as devious. In retrospect I'd like to believe their motivation was more merciful and grounded in respect for the privacy of the family members who were caught so publicly in a moment of profound private grief. You don't see that sort of justifiable discretion anymore. Instead, BigTV magnifies private grief and hides public perfidies. Which in so many ways is just as sad as this tragic anniversary.

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