Jan 21, 2010
The news from Hatiti: premotion
Am I the only one who finds the on-tap emoting by the nation's news anchors on behalf of the people of Haiti a little bit yeeuch? I understand that sometimes, once in a blue moon, when a news event catches an anchor off gaurd, those moments can make genuinely captivating television, as happened with Anderson Cooper on the ground with Hurricane Katrina. Listening to the 24-hour emotothons that are his dispatches from Haiti, however, is a bit like the difference between Meryl Streep in The DeerHunter and Streep in that movie where everyone sat around in that trailer home taking anti-depressants that never seemed to kick in. It's not just Cooper: when Haiti comes up in the teleprompter, every anchor within a 100-metre range dips their voice, lowers their lashes, and adopts this hushed, mopy tone, as if volume would allow their tempestuous emotions to get the better of them and whisk them towards the edge of geo-hysterical breakdown. That's the idea, anyway. What it actually calls to mind is that awkward, all-purpose sad face you pull when somebody tells you their cat died and you're not yet sure how seriously they intend to be about it. The networks appear to have lost the ability to deliver bad news; everything must come coddled in its own little jacket of pre-wrapped emotion — premotion — to spare you the discomfort of having your own reaction. Please. Get a grip. It's your job to report the news and our job to find that news upsetting, or joyous, as we see fit.