Thursday, July 07, 2011

Faking Boston's July 4th fireworks display not only wrong, it was insulting.

In a city rich in history it is shocking to find out that something as sacred as an annual fireworks display in honor of Independence Day would be faked on television for the sake of entertainment purposes. What an insult to the good people of the City of Boston who do not need special digitally enhanced fireworks displays on television to make them feel proud of their history and tune in to the occasion.

The Boston 4 Celebrations Foundation and its philanthropist David Mugar decided to air a digital enhancement of fireworks superimposed over city monuments and historical locations. Viewers in Boston who knew the fireworks had taken place in another location, off a barge, contacted the station confused and angry over being misled.  Mugar defended the decision insisting it was "entertainment rather than news" but it seems the people who watched the fireworks display on television are outraged. Whether this event is considered news or entertainment is irrelevant. What is disturbing here is that the intent by Mugar, the Foundation and the CBS affiliate to mislead viewers. 

Mugar compared the fake fireworks display to the television show Boston Legal which is shot in Hollywood but uses shots of Boston in some of its scenes. He obviously thinks the audience is stupid. There is no comparison between what takes place in a fictional television series and what takes place in a real-life event like a Boston fireworks display. The creators of Boston Legal do not lead the viewers into believing the events or characters are real.  However, viewers watching a fireworks display live from Boston expect that what they are watching is in fact, real.

It doesn't matter why Mugar, the Foundation, and the CBS affiliate chose to do this, the fact is they did it and they were wrong. Sadly, many Americans are already hesitant to trust much of what they see, hear or read in the news media anymore, something like this latest stunt makes it worse.

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