Debate: Death TV

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Youtube, Tom Pryce videos, 2007The huge growth of internet video sites has made all manner of F1 footage readily available – even if it doesn’t meet with the approval of Formula One Administration.

While it’s great to be able to view videos from the latest F1 events at your leisure, the massive availability of F1 video old and new presents some difficult questions beyond the ramifications for copyright. Videos of fatal accidents attract an enormous following of the morbidly fascinated.

Formula One has a dark past, when driver fatalities were regular and almost unremarkable occurrences. Today that past is viewed very differently.

It’s astonishing to see the difference in attitudes to death in motorsport even 20 years ago. The FOCA season review 1982, for example, contains footage of the fatal accidents of Gilles Villeneuve and Riccardo Paletti; the 1994 review does not have the same in respect of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.

On the ‘net the fatal accidents of drivers like Tom Pryce and Roger Williamson attract hundreds of thousands of views.

F1 cannot run and hide from its history. But should graphic, uncensored footage of the worst moments of its past be available with no adequate explanation of what happened?

Is it appropriate for such footage to appear on sites where people can – and do – post comments mocking the victims of such horrible accidents?

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