Thursday, January 21, 2010

Split Screen

I turn on the tv, and Anderson Cooper has, for a week straight been playing savior on CNN. He is always sticking cameras in peoples faces, robbing them of their dignity at the moment it is all that they have left.

Those god damned patronizing split screens, as if people in peril and agony just aren't enough to justify more than 1/4 of the screen.

The commerical break reminds us that, while Hatians know they need food, water, shelter and medicine, you might not have realized you need a Droid and a Snuggie and GoldLine.

Surely, if Cooper's primary objective was to help people, he could do that much more effectively without the cameras. But here it is: philanthropy as performance. Poverty porn.


OR... Maybe Anderson Cooper is awesome. First major anchor on the ground in Haiti. Doing what a journalist does, within the context of the medium. Maybe my grievance is less towards him and more towards cable news in general.

Still, maybe he should be more passive. What would be more effective in inspiring sympathy and material contributions: to turn on the TV and see that people are helping, or to turn it on and see the reality, that without the cameras and the media crews, there is agony and need on a Biblical scale.

Maybe it'd be better for all of us to turn on the TV and see suffering without Anderson Cooper swooping into save the day.

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