The wonderful about us humans which is one of the things which sets us apart from other life forms, is our ability to express our emotions in so many ways, both verbally and visually. The majority of our daily interaction is based on our emotions. Sadness, anger, frustration, fear, worry, and excitement, are just a few of a multitude of emotions we express. The most moving emotion of all is sadness. When something terrible happens, such as losing a loved one, whatever the cause, the pain caused by this loss is often overwhelming.
The reason I have opened this blog by talking about emotions, is because I want to discuss, and ask questions about a particular emotion. The emotion I am particularly referring to is sadness. When we are sad, crying is generally the way we express our sadness. Tears often need no explanation (even tears of joy) we know someone is feeling sadness or pain.
My issue is that of ‘crying on TV’ When things happen on TV which are traumatic for individuals, the media crew, whether in a studio, or on location at the scene of the event, look for people to interview about the experience. Understandably, when someone is going through this type experience they often cry as they are explaining or recounting it. But why oh why, do the media feel that it is necessary to continue to film someone who is crying, and to allow filming to continue during what should be a private moment. These people have the good grace to share agonizing moments with millions of viewers. Surely they deserve to be respected in these moments.
I have read articles in which it has been quoted that visual emotion such as tears garner more sympathy from viewers. If this is true, then are the people who provide the emotion ok with being filmed at what is probably one of the lowest points in their lives, and in a situation where they cannot control such emotions? I watched recent coverage of the Orlando massacre, and it was a terrible tragedy. In the aftermath of this, Anderson Cooper, who is an well known gay newscaster, broke down as he was reporting on the tragedy.
Now this man has been reporting the news for many years and has reported on some of the worst events in recent memory. So was it really necessary for him to do this on national TV? If he felt that he was not able to cover the event in a professional way, why was he not replaced? For me, his tears were introduced to enhance the ratings of CNN, and for no other purpose.
Watching people cry on TV does not provide an extra level of sympathy for the affected person. It only provides the desired effect the TV networks hope for. As another example, I watched a crime program in which the crime in question being covered, took place over 20 years before. They were interviewing a policemen who investigated the crime. During the interview he ‘broke down in tears’ as he recalled the crime. This was an example of ‘false emotion’ as it was clear that the officer had been talking at length about the crime and was fine. It was only when, in my opinion, the prompt came for him to cry for the cameras, did he duly deliver.
This trend began with our friends across the pond, but has now found its way into British TV, which for me is quite distressing. I have always believed that people are not stupid, and know genuine sadness when it is expressed. They do not need extra ‘false’ tears to be able to grasp the situation people are in. We have all experienced some degree of this, and people deal with it in different ways. A lack of tears is not a measure of a lack of emotion, which is often cited as the reason for people who do not express this emotion.
TV ratings should not be used to exploit people in distressing situations. The camera should always be turned of to allow them privacy, and time to compose themselves, and they should only continue if they wish to.
In conclusion I believe that this trend will continue, and i hope that there are program makers out there who will show some ‘balls’ and fight back against this pathetic trend and allow people to keep their dignity during these awful moments.