Discovery ID: No Means No! Stop Your Exploitive Program, “Village of The Damned”

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Despite protests from victims’ families and community leaders, Discovery has chosen to premiere its show, inaccurately depicting a series of unrelated, tragic events around the small town of Dryden, NY, over a ten-year period, throughout the holidays–the very time many of the events happened.

This series is not an attempt to inquire, investigate, help or to heal.  It is voyeurism of human suffering and tragedy. It misrepresents and commoditizes grief. It disrespects those whose lives it depicts.

EXPLOITING TRAGEDY / IGNORING VICTIMS

From early on in the production, key family members of victims portrayed in this series objected to and protested its creation. In lengthy personal conversations with producer, Stephen Dost, of Red Marble Media, victims’ families pleaded with him to stop, explaining the damage and retraumatization this would bring by forcing the families to relive their experiences on Discovery’s and Red Marble Media’s terms.

They asked, they pleaded, and they were ignored.

One of the aspects that makes trauma so debilitating is a lack of control or ability to influence life changing events.  These ignored pleas have caused fresh wounds for those preyed upon. There is no healing, rather additional trauma.

Discovery’s unaccountable power is unacceptable to us and runs counter to Discovery's own corporate campaign, “Inspire a Difference.”  

This initiative purports: "Raising awareness of domestic violence, civil rights, bullying, victims’ rights and healing." Discovery must hold their own programming choices accountable to the very principles they claim to champion.

The Mayor of Dryden and eight local pastors support these protests and have signed a letter on behalf of the community.  You can read the letter here.

The United Methodist Church Finger Lakes District Superintendent also wrote a letter of protest.  You can read his letter here.


UNETHICAL PRODUCTION

Healing and compassion have nothing to do with this program. The series title alone gives it away. “Village of the Damned” serves no purpose other than to cater to the macabre and prurient interests of viewers. It is instructive that other productions by Red Marble Media include Evil Lives Here, Grave Secrets, My Dirty Little Secret, Gates of Hell, and Most Evil.

While some families participated in interviews, which we do not raise issue with, others strenuously objected to having their stories told in this way.  The producers ruthlessly persisted, misrepresenting their motives, claiming to be promoting healing while hearing from the mouths of the victims themselves that they were being caused stress and pain. The voices in this series are not a fair representation of the whole.

Throughout filming, community members were misled about having the permission of the families principally involved in these events.  

These lies have caused conflict, stressed our relationships with each other, and further isolated the very people this community has tried to hold with gentleness and healing grace.  

MISLEADING MARKETING

Contrary to Discovery’s assertion in press materials, Dryden residents and family members of victims did not “put their trust” in the production company.

Though they were able to find some willing participants in the area, the producers of this program were repeatedly asked to halt production by far more who opposed it. In fact, producers were well aware of objections as they were denied interview space at a local church, a cafe, as well as school grounds because of community protest.

Additionally, Discovery claims "two love stories turn to tragedy." In fact, relationships that end in murder are not love stories. They are stories of abuse, violence, and pain.

Furthermore, this series creates a fictional community. Referencing the “village” of Dryden is misleading and inaccurate since most of the events did not happen in the village but in other towns.

TRANSCENDING EXPLOITIVE MEDIA

Promotion of “Village of the Damned” refers to a curse, and this is true. It is the curse of salacious programming that has been spawned within our country, unfortunately propagated by Discovery Channel. The real Village of the Damned lies within our media culture. With mass shootings becoming the new normal, with unimaginable suffering of victims and survivors, does this now represent the new normal on our public media response? Compassion replaced by self-interest, a tabloid-loving nation that respects neither the privacy nor suffering of its neighbors?

There is no higher motive here, no transcendent reason to dismiss the needs of the victims. No overriding reason to open wounds that have yet to heal. Airing this program will prove the Discovery Channel is simply interested in profits over compassion, willing to take the common denominator of television to new lows.

In the 1960 horror, sci-fi film of the same name, “Village of The Damned,” the aliens who take the form of children say, “You have to be taught to leave us alone.”

Discovery Channel: Leave us alone!

Please sign our petition to help us stop this series.

Here are other ways to help:

Twitter: Tweet your disgust to @DiscoveryID @DiscoveryComm @DostStephen @RedMarbleMedia

  • “Village of the Damned” is Exploitative, Unethical and Misleading.
  • LISTEN to and RESPECT victims!
  • Let people tell their own stories on their own terms.

Register your complaint at Discovery viewer relations: https://corporate.discovery.com/contact/viewer-relations/

Corporate campaign for victims: https://www.facebook.com/InspireADifference/

DiscoveryID Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/InvestigationDiscovery/



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