Monday, April 13, 2015

Viral video? Keep rolling

Public relations professionals today dream of having a campaign go "viral." Earning countless views, shares, Tweets and re-tweets, and unending shares on Facebook.

By User:Otourly (Own work) [GFDL
( or
CC BY-SA 3.0 (
/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Last year's Ice Bucket Challenge for MLS was an extraordinary example, with people all over replicating and re-posting their attempts -- successful or otherwise -- at reducing their body temperature in the name of charity. And we couldn't turn away.

This week, in casual online conversation, I contrasted the relentless ice-dousing videos with the chilling 30-second clip of a North Charleston, S.C. police officer unloading eight rounds at an unarmed, fleeing Walter Scott. It was chilling video, can't-look-away content. NBC knew it, and ran the clip three times in the first eight minutes of its Nightly News report.

At first, I was angry. NBC was exploiting the clip. I thought: "How many times do they need to see this? Is this kind of violence now the equivalent of a winning Super Bowl touchdown catch, repeated over and over?"

And, in a few hours, I came to realize: if any video really needs to go viral, it's the shooting of Walter Scott.

It needs to be shown, repeatedly, in every police precinct. Every district attorney's office. Every courthouse. Because it's not a stunt. It's not a trailer from a movie. It's an abuse of power. Because it's happened over and over, to Walter Scotts and Eric Garners we've never heard of. Of every color. Who've been brutalized when a video camera wasn't around.

Yes, we love our viral video. And in recent days, we've been nauseated by the North Charleston video. But we shouldn't turn away when painful reality video forces us to confront racism and abuse in our society. 

Keep rolling. Maybe that's the way to end the endless shooting.