I’m tired of television networks doing this:
Citing similarities between the show’s finale and today’s tragic shooting at a Virginia TV station, USA Network says it will postpone tonight’s finale of Mr. Robot.
“The previously filmed season finale of Mr. Robot contains a graphic scene similar in nature to today’s tragic events in Virginia,” the network said in a statement. “Out of respect to the victims, their families and colleagues, and our viewers, we are postponing tonight’s episode.”
The episode will now air on Sept. 2. The network didn’t elaborate on how the scene from the finale is similar to the events today, in which a person shot and killed a cameraman and reporter during a live televised interview.
I don’t understand how this is about respect for the victims. No matter what happens on Mr. Robot, it’s not about the victims and has nothing to do with them.
I can sort of understand the desire to respect the feelings of the victims’ families and friends, but I have trouble believing that tonight’s episode of Mr. Robot makes any difference to them. Given that someone they love has just died, I don’t think they care what’s on television.
I admit that when my mother and father died a few months apart (from natural causes), I couldn’t watch new episodes of House for a few months. Unsurprisingly, watching people suffer from major health problems in hospital settings had lost its entertainment value for me.
But it didn’t bother me that House was on the air or that other people were watching it, and I don’t believe that today’s victims’ families and friends would be bothered by Mr Robot being on either. The most that might be needed from USA Network is a warning notice before the show so people who might be upset could avoid or postpone watching that episode.
Speaking of my dead parents, why didn’t House postpone any episodes when they died, out of respect for my feelings? For that matter, people are murdered pretty much every day in this country, so why don’t networks postpone shows all the time? Surely the family and friends of those victims would be just as upset by similar violence on television as the family and friends of the people shot in Virginia today. Why doesn’t USA Network postpone episodes for them?
Of course the big difference between today’s shooting and all those other murders (or my parents’ natural deaths) is the vast amount of news coverage. Everybody has heard about the Virginia shooting. What this tells me is that postponing tonight’s episode of Mr. Robot isn’t really about the victims or their families or their friends. It’s about all of us.
My initial thought was that USA Network was concerned the episode’s similarity to today’s tragic real-life events would make it harder for us viewers to enjoy the show, which is bad for the USA Network, because they need us viewers to make money. Even just putting up a warning notice could reduce viewership, although I suspect most fans would catch the episode later.
On the other hand, speaking as a fan, not only was there a depressing event in the news today, but now it turns out I won’t get to see a show I’ve been looking forward to all day. USA Network isn’t really helping me out here, and I’m guessing most other fans feel the same way. (Or maybe these coincidences just don’t bother me as much.)
That leads me to believe that postponing the episode is mostly about the desire by USA Network executives to avoid the appearance of insensitivity. They’re concerned that if they show the episode, someone or some group with an agenda will get outraged and make a big stink about USA Network’s neglect of victims’ feelings and “glorification” of violence.
But saying that in the press release would have been insensitive. So instead they say it’s about respect for the victims and their families and friends. That’s not to say that the people at USA Network aren’t genuinely sympathetic toward the victims and their families and friends. I just don’t think that’s why they’re postponing Mr. Robot.