The Way it Never Was

"I was on my Grandma's carpet on my tummy with my chin resting in my little hands watching TV. I watched JFK and his lovely wife in a motorcar procession. I watched in horror as the smiling man was shot. "

There's an interesting phenomenon here. People "remember" things that never happened. For instance, there's no way you could watch the assassination of JFK on television as it happened. There was no live feed TV. Collectively we remember it happening or remember seeing it happen cause we've seen it over and over on television.

Jack Ruby was shot live on television, but the cameras were in one place, stationery and plugged in to electricity. (egad, Miss Snark IS Nitwit of the day AGAIN...it was of course Lee Harvey Oswald who was shot, Jack Ruby the shooter..Miss Snark heads for the medicinal gin)

The photos we remember most from the motorcade are those from the still photographers, and if you run them in sequence they look like a movie. We've also seen the Zapruder movie but of course, that wasn't aired live on television at the time either.

Facts are tricky things and once the "docudrama" folks get images involved, what we "remember" is often times what the director didn't leave on the cutting room floor.


David said...

False memory syndrome is now blamed for so much, and as many people will swear black is white because it is 'seen on the television', this problem is only set to get worse.

In the UK many TV shows are now seen as factual when they are little more than entertainment.

Anonymous said...

If memory serves (and, as this interesting entry shows, memory does not always serve!), the Zapruder movie was not shown on TV for quite some time after the assassination. For one thing, television wasn't as prurient back then. For another thing, I believe Zapruder sort of kept the existence of the film confidential for some time after the assassination, eventually turning it over to federal investigators.

The issue of false memories is fascinating, to me. I have a vivid memory that I cannot reconcile with the historic events of the timeframe in which this memory occurs. And I wasn't a small child; this memory comes from when I was about 18 years old! It's amazing what the human brain can do.

Catja (green_knight) said...

Can we please nominate the word 'motorcade' as un-word of 2005?

I shudder every time I hear it.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I remember sitting on the living room floor with my family watching them move Jack Ruby. My mother said venomously, "Someon aughta' shoot that S-O-B!! Right then the shot rang out and it happened.

I was scared of my mother for years after that, thinking that she had caused it to happen!

Rick said...

This is related to the "CSI effect," which is now reputedly showing up in actual trials. Jurors expect elaborate presentations of forensic evidence, even when the case does not require it. (Admittedly, I don't know how much of the CSI effect is real - so to speak - and how much is just prosecutors grumbling when jurors reject sloppy police work.)

Anonymous said...

I think writers can use these false memories sometimes as devices to get the reader to believe what they've read is real. The phenomenon of planting false memories into the story to solicit a reaction from the reader is an interesting trick in writing.

I wonder how many writers use this technique?

Dhewco said...

Ummm, Jack Ruby died of Cancer, or some such in prison. Lee Harvey Oswald was shot. I hope ya'll know this and are just funnin'.

If it's a joke and I don't get it, sorry.


Stephen said...

As a Brit, this is not really my area of expertise, but I'm not sure that Jack Ruby was shot by anybody, live on TV or otherwise.

Lee Harvey Oswald, on the other hand...

Anonymous said...

I think the Zapruder footage was a home movie, not stills.
But I sure remember that weekend, how cold it was in North Texas that year.
I too have memories of when I was a small child that my mother says could never have happened -- I have never been on a ship with her (at least I think it was my mother), she wasn't in a long dress, and she never told me to look, the shore there is England. Obviously a vivid dream, but I can still see it.

Miss Snark said...

Miss Snark clarifies the following:
Zapruder movie was a home movie, not shown on television until some years later.

Still photos, taken by magazine and newspaper photogs, are what I was referencing.

And yes, (dons nitwit cap) Jack Ruby was the shooter, not the shootee.

Can I blame this on no coffee again?

sheriff lamb said...

A couple of years ago there was a study done where researchers convinced subjects that they had seen Bugs Bunny during a trip to Disney World. Bugs is a Warner Brothers character and, of course, would not have been at Disney World. Very interesting.


Sponge Girl said...

RE: CSI effect -

Apparantly some Australians are "pleading the fifth" when they get arrested.

In Australia "the fifth" means the right for Aborigines to be counted in a census.

But it's nice to see even common criminals taking Aboriginal rights so seriously...

Miss Audrey said...

First of all I must thank Miss Snark for not calling me a nitwit. As I read the entry I felt pretty nitwitty indeed! I blushed as I realized that my recollection of the JFK assination was false.

I'm glad that I couldn't have seen it live. It's comforting. Embarrassing, but comforting just the same.