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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Save Blood and Gore For Hollywood Flicks

The American entertainment industry has taken a lot of flak over the years for its cinematic sins. Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal. Need I say more?

Anything labeled an "action" movie, "adventure" film or a "thriller" is fuel for the fire of those critics who say Americans are entertained by nothing more than shoot-’em-up blood-and-gore fests. But the realm of fantasy is one thing. When it comes to covering the blood and gore of real life, the Russians have the Americans beat.

The television coverage of Tuesday’s explosion in central Moscow was some of the most horrific I have seen. As the initial live coverage of the Pushkin Square tragedy was broadcast into The Moscow Times’ newsroom, I watched one colleague after another cover their mouths as gasp after gasp went up at the sight of bloody survivors staggering out of the smokey underground passageway.

Covering disasters is a delicate matter, and American journalism students are required to take classes covering ethics and sensitivity in portraying matters of life and death. While journalists at the scene of a crime or disaster are charged with reporting the who, what, where, when, why and how of the story, there are ways of conveying the horror and tragedy of the scene without zooming in on the victims’ dead bodies.

But as I’m sitting on my couch, remote control in hand, I wonder whether reporting the news is even a priority for some of the people behind the cameras.

Take "Dorozhny Patrul" (Road Patrol) on TV6, a 10-minute accident report that documents — in living color, as many as three times a day — car accidents, fires and discoveries of dead bodies. I happened to catch it at 1:50 a.m. recently, but if you miss that broadcast, you can see it at 6:20 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. NTV’s "Kriminal" and "Petrovka, 38" on TV Center are similar crime documentaries running daily, as early as 10:55 a.m.

I’ll never forget the shock of turning on the television a few years ago and finding a rerun of the crime drama "NYPD Blue" at 9:30 a.m. on NTV. When "NYPD Blue" first debuted on U.S. networks in 1993, ABC television affiliates nationwide were so up in arms over the content, including violence and partial nudity, that several stations refused to show the program in their areas at 10 p.m. The boycott didn’t last, of course, because the show was a hit with its target audience: adults watching after children have presumably gone to bed.

But children watching TV here have ample opportunity to glimpse corpses, not just actors pretending to be victims of gun-shot wounds or car accidents, and not just on the news. It doesn’t take the government or a regulatory agency to institute guidelines that should be a matter of ethics and taste.

It takes a conscience.