Sunday, February 26, 2006

Golden Gate Suicides — misrepresentation?

During 2004, a guy asked for, and got, permission from the Golden Gate Bridge authorities in San Franscisco to set up cameras which would film the bridge for the whole year.

During daylight hours, that’s whaty happened. Every single movement of the sun along the brick-red girders was recorded; every gradation of shadow and cloud stored away, the shades of the sky over the structure preserved for posterity.

As well as the people jumping off the bridge to their deaths.

Steel says his goal is to “allow us to see into the most impenetrable corners of the human mind and challenge us to think and talk about suicide in profoundly different ways.”

“Are we angry? Absolutely,” said bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie.

“A guy this duplicitous — there must be a way to yank that stuff away from him,” said Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown, a member of the bridge district’s board. “It’s just a horrible thing to be taking pictures of.”

Interviewed for the linked article, the guy who set up the cameras has now revealed that that is really why he was filming — not to make a snuff movie but to raise troubling and very real questions about the human spirit that are framed by the bridge itself.

After all, give a city’s population something big and universally accessible to jump off, and those who want to kill themselves will use it, breaking their bones and liquefying their internal organs when they hit the water. In 2004 alone, 19 people actually jumped, and more carried out ‘cries for help’.

So how is this project of his unrepresentative of the reality of that bridge? Sure, when dealing with human death by suicide all the precautions necessary when interviewing people and editing a film should be followed. But aside from its history and appearance, the bridge is well–known for suicide. Let the guy make the film. And let him do it well.

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