There’s a topic I’ve been wanting to address publicly for quite some time now. It is something that causes me great discomfort and sometimes even makes me physically ill. I don’t know what has become of the world we live in, but I remember a time when we could turn on the television without having to worry about being bombarded with images we didn’t want to see. These images, which have become ubiquitous, are often shocking, gratuitous in nature, and cringe-worthy. When I come upon them accidentally and without warning, it makes me very upset because I know that I have witnessed something I cannot scrub out of my mind no matter how hard I try. I think you’ll all agree with me when I say that possibly the most pernicious evil we can allow into our homes and into our minds is the television medical drama.
Why? Why do we need to see the scalpel actually enter the skin? Or the flap of flesh being lifted to reach some sort of gooey cavity? Broken bones or impaled stomachs, staples, stitches, electrodes poked into beating hearts – why show so much detail? How many surgical procedures do we have to witness before we all decide to stand up and say enough is enough? Nobody needs to see that stuff. Dr. Kildare and Dr. Quinn didn’t resort to such gratuitous stunts and those were quality shows.
I for one think we need to see more skin on television. After all, skin is what keeps all the guts inside and hidden away from innocent eyes. Without skin, nothing is left to the imagination.
I also think there needs to be a trigger warning for those of us who have experienced trauma – say, for example, cutting the end of a thumb off with a rotary fabric cutter, or slicing an arm open with a box cutter and driving 20 minutes to the nearest Instacare while holding a towel over the wound, or slicing oranges and having the knife slip and cut open a fingertip a month before a big piano performance and then having a medical student clumsily stitch it up. We should not have to relive our painful experiences by watching some hunky actor/surgeon carve into someone’s flesh. It’s just too much to bear – it’s as if we’re being cut all over again.
I have a friend who says she finds medical dramas fascinating, especially the graphic surgical procedure scenes. She is a medical assistant and always wished she could be a scrub nurse or an O.R. aid because she wanted to assist in actual surgeries so she could see this stuff in real life. If this is true, if she’s not lying to me (I haven’t ruled it out, because what decent human being would enjoy that sort of thing?), then maybe she has just become hardened by constant exposure to these images on television. Whereas I look away quickly when I can tell one of those scenes is coming up, maybe my friend keeps watching. Maybe she has let herself become desensitized from seeing so many entrails and organs and blood spurts and bone shards. Maybe if I just made myself not look away, I could also train myself to become less affected by the shock.
So this week I tried it. I had to sometimes physically prevent myself from looking away from the flagrant displays of innards each time The Media flung them at me. I had to see things no one should ever have to see. I felt faint, sometimes ill, often angry, and even after several attempts, I still was never able to watch these scenes without revulsion. It’s probably because I am such a sensitive soul.
And so, in the future, I will continue to look away or change the channel so I can protect my own sensibilities from this garbage. I will keep my mind pure and free of the images which disturb me so, even if it means I have to close my eyes and pretend all those squishy, gooey, bloody parts that do the dirty work of keeping me alive don’t actually exist.