Dirty Laundry

Do you remember the song “Dirty Laundry by Don Henley? One verse went like this:

We got the bubbleheaded bleach-blonde, comes on at 5
She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
It’s interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry

That song–about tv/tabloid news– is almost 30 years old and it still resonates today.

Here’s the question:

Why do people who’ve just been through the most traumatic event in their lives rush to be on tv to tell their story?

The woman whose husband was shot off his jet ski by Mexican drug dealers (and his mother) have become staples on the Today Show. She’s been on three times in last two weeks telling her story–how she tried to save him while the bandits were closing in on her, but, in the end, had to leave his body floating in the lake that borders the U.S. and Mexico.

Last Thursday a young man was surfing in California and was killed by a Great White Shark. On Monday his entire family was on tv talking about him and about their loss.

How can people do this?

I don’t think they’re being paid and I don’t think (for the most part) that they’re after fame.

So what’s their motivation?

Imagine that you’re going through a devastating event and your phone rings. A stranger on the other end asks you to get up at the crack of dawn the next day and talk on national tv about your recently deceased spouse/child/parent.

Would you do it?

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would say no.


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11 responses to “Dirty Laundry

  1. little sister

    I have no clue. I wonder about this on a daily basis. A news chasing pig stuck an unwanted microphone in my face. It was only minutes after the most tragic event in my life happened. Thank God, level headed friends intervened. The news story was almost about a grieving Mom killing a reporter. When you get the answer to this insanity, please share.

  2. a dark mystery to me as well. i can almost understand the familes who go on to crusade for legislation after a tragedy (ie: Megan’s Law) who are using the visibility to advance a cause…

    it’s painful to watch, though. not sure why it’s all the rage…

  3. What an intriguing question…! It’s definitely one of those “WHAT ARE THEY THINKING???” situations. No way would I want to be interviewed. I don’t even like to watch those interviews. They make me squirm, just watching.

    Maybe they feel they need to do it to tell “the real story”?

    I’ve also never understood why people take their own kids to see where another child was murdered.

  4. Andy Warhol was right. We all want our :15 minutes of fame. It’s part of the human condition, I’m afraid.

    If I was financially strapped and need the cash to help my family, I’d probably do it. Otherwise, I’d like to think that I’m above that sort of thing. But you never know…

  5. Julie

    I just assumed there was big money involved. Maybe a free trip to the Big Apple and a fine hotel. And wouldn’t that just be a great way to “get over” all that grief stuff.
    I just think that a lot of folks out there see TV as the real world–a real place, maybe more real than their own lives. In other words, if it doesn’t happen on TV, it doesn’t happen at all.

  6. Niece Whit

    Does Oprah count? 🙂

  7. LS–I’m glad the friends were there too.
    DF–It is hard to watch. And the questions the reporters ask…ugh.
    MM–I guess you just have to walk around in their shoes…maybe then we’d understand.
    UB–You’re right, everyone reacts differently when they’re stressed out. I hope I’d take the high road, but who knows?
    Julie–Just another edition of reality tv, right?

  8. I guess I’m with Banishment here (15 minutes and all that). But also, TV has become reality for some people – they’re so used to seeing other people recount intimate/tragic details that they think it’s normal. I wonder if there are even people out there who are left feeling that their tragedy is of less magnitude than they’d originally thought, or indignant, because reporters didn’t show up?

  9. I know certain shows do not typically pay for interviews but I think most do. If my husband was killed and I was worried about expenses in his absence, I would probably do it. Additionally, they no doubt hound you after a tragedy, selling you hard on the whole, people want to know, unless you share the real story no one will really understand what happened, news agencies will keep after you until you tell your story, blah, blah, blah. Maybe you start to think they will go away if you talk. It is also probably a welcome distraction from havingto be alone with your feelings and like blogging, the support and feedback is probably a bit addictive.

  10. mother

    P.S. the girl whose husband was killed by the Mexicans was on “Dr Phil” yesterday – as was her mother. She “just needs some guidance”/

  11. I don’t know, I mean, if I go through a traumatic even I want to write about it immediately, sometimes put it up in a blog post. Although I do it more for the therapeutic value than for fame, so…

    okay yeah. I agree with you like 95%. Sometimes telling people gives the illusion that you’re sharing the burden, but television is the fucking stupidest medium to use for that.

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