Did ‘Christine’ Create Reality TV?

‘Christine’ is based on a true story, described to be about sensationalism, that is however not sensationalistic. It tells the shocking and tragic 1974 case of news reporter Christine Chubbuck, who struggled with depression while striving to advance her career. She had wanted to highlight significant news stories, while the industry seemed to demand juiciness over meaningfulness. Interestingly, she was featured to had proposed reality television, that is more real than the somewhat acted versions today.

During a live television broadcast of ‘Suncoast Digest’, she read the following self-scripted words… ‘In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in “blood and guts” and in living color, you are going to see another first – an attempted suicide.’ She then shot herself, dying 14 hours later after being rushed to hospital. It was pre-planned, even with her script saying she will be rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where she remains in critical condition. A self-fulfilling prophecy it was, that did make it to the news, as directly as possible.

While this might be misunderstood as an extremely gruesome tactic to gather eyeballs for ratings, it was perhaps more of a desperate personal attempt to vent frustration, to bring attention to the media’s literally ‘bloody’ obsession for the sensational, instead of what was truly worthy reporting and analysing, to make the world a better place. Hers was also a sad case of empathy and support for her mental health condition neglected. Ironically, she did kind of create reality TV with her ‘act’, that did become sensational too. News media must continue to evolve.

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