How many times have you seen the Zapruder film, that infamous footage that captured the murder of JFK?
Even before the 50th Anniversary, I’d guess I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I find it fascinating and think it greatly adds to the information and misinformation about what happened in Dallas that iconic day.
But I often wonder if something similar to the images captured by the Zapruder film were captured today, if we’d ever see a frame of it. What brings this to mind are the photographs and video of people jumping off the World Trade Center that has disappeared from our visual vocabulary. It’s not that I want to dwell on those horrible sights but I’m somewhat surprised — even in this age of YouTube — how much we censor the historical record of that day.
And it’s not some government agency censoring it — it’s the networks and cable channels themselves. Individually, they’ve decided those shots will only be available on YouTube and even there, the footage begins with a stern warning about being over 18 years old.
Contrast that with the images of the assassination of President Kennedy that appear on television, especially this week. Over and over again, we see Kennedy’s head being blown off and, because the footage is in color (unusual for that time when many Americans did not have color television sets), it’s very easy to see the blood flying.
Would you prefer the Zapruder film was kept under lock and key? I wonder if today, the department of Homeland Security would that under lock and key pronto? (By the way, there are some pretty entertaining stories in the Wikipedia entry; not sure if all of them are true.)