We’ve all been riveted by the story of the missing Malaysian flight for the past two weeks. The reasons for that are pretty obvious. There’s the human tragedy angle, of course, but it’s also given us a rare example of a real life mystery that seems beyond the scope of the world’s combined technical power and knowhow. Things don’t just disappear like this. It reminds us that the world is a much scarier, and uncontrollable place, than we like to think.
Then, of course, there’s the thing where it reminds of us a TV show!
This missing plane IRL is a lot like that missing plane on the TV show Lost, about a missing plane ,
— Luke O’Neil (@lukeoneil47) March 11, 2014
Because we’re a culture of idiots, incapable of processing any information without first filtering through a pop culture lens, many of us immediately thought about Lost when we first heard about a plane disappearing. We do this all the time. How many stupid jokes about Rocky did we have to slog through around the time of the Olympics in Russia. People are really, really dumb.
It’s understandable, I suppose, to make that type of connection. I thought it. You thought it. But what crosses the line is coming right out and saying it, especially if you’re an ostensibly reliable journalistic news outlet, like KETV in Omaha, who posted this super clever and in no way hacky and predictable graphic on their Twitter page teasing a segment on their plane coverage.
They’re certainly not the only outlet to use the plane’s disappearance as a ratings driver — hell, I can’t remember the last time I turned on a cable news station and it wasn’t endlessly pontificating and speculating about where it might be. We’re using it here too. The sad fact is, a story like this is great for business, but when you come out and make it so obvious and ham-handed like this it looks ugly. It’s not supposed to be entertainment when people have lost their lives. Planes aren’t the only thing we seem to have lost in the media lately.