Thursday, June 4, 2009

In retrospect, probably shouldn't have seen this video series

So today at work a coworker and I were discussing my Mum's first car, the AMC Gremlin. We then found an article from Time on the 50 Worst Cars ever. In the article, which definitely is a justified list since almost all those cars are pretty awful, it mentioned a movie called Mechanized Death.

Mechanized Death is one of many videos used in the 50's and 60's in drivers' ed classes to teach road safety and what highway patrolmen do. These movies aren't usually taught in classes anymore, because they're pretty traumatic.

So these movies are so controversial and remembered is that it showed actual footage from car crashes in Ohio. Wreckage, burning cars, and... yes, dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. Dramatic orchestrations, matter-of-fact voice overs, these movies are pretty much all the same. Nothing is blurred out.

When I was in Driver's Ed, my teacher held onto to many of these videos because he decided they were a good tool in teaching highway safety. And in retrospect, he was probably right. I know it freaked at least me out, since it's so graphic and shows just how easy it is to get into a car crash.

I had forgotten about these until today, and had a very good feeling they'd be on Youtube. And I was right. I found one that I saw on Youtube, and it brought me back to being freaked out in high school. In the video I saw, there were:

--two men burned to a crisp so they were unrecognizable.
--several dead people.
--burned cars.
--dead cattle.
--people blowing through stop lights.
--people speeding on winding roads.
--people disregarding the right of way.
--people dying.
--The sound of people dying.
--People being notified that their spouses were killed.

I am one who argues that we should not coddle kids, especially when it comes to driving since way too many kids die in accidents every year. My exboyfriend Justin lost a former student earlier in the year to a drunk driver on 290 a few months ago, and I know many people either killed or injurred in car crashes over the years. Teenagers think they're untouchable, but every year some kid dies.

But re-seeing these movies, I completely understand why these movies are generally not seen these days. Not because people shouldn't see this information, but because I feel the director uses the tragic loss of life (exploits it even) for his own gain. He gets right into the faces of the victims and profits. There seems to be no respect for the loss of life and death.

Maybe I'm sensitive because I was in a bad car accident one morning on my way to work where I totaled a car. Fortunately, I just walked away with some scratches, and the other driver was also fine, but the accident was awful to view. But I think even if I wasn't in a car accident myself I'd feel uneasy about these films.

This may be moot, since these films are not generally used to teach, but since it popped in my head today, I thought it was worth discussing.

Also, I refuse to post a video from this, since it is pretty disturbing and graphic, but there are plenty online if you want to check one out.

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