Michael Amity explores how the Christin Cooper-Bode Miller interview was a misfire for the “entertainment” at all costs approach
The Christin Cooper-Bode Miller interview, where Cooper’s persistent questioning of Miller about his recently deceased younger brother drove him to tears on national television, has been much talked about in recent days.
In this environment of snap-reaction culture, social-media nonsense is commonly spoon-fed as news, when it is oftentimes not. But among the noise and links and videos, there are still real stories. For instance, the climate shifts most dramatically if, by chance, a star achieves victory soon after a loved-one’s death. That can be a humanizing relatable story. It can be a beautiful story.
But remember Michael Jordan after his comeback? A title-winner who retired in his prime due to his father’s tragic slaying, he returned to regality, and with new eyes we saw him as a vulnerable champion. He latched on to his trophy in ’96, and unforgettably cried profusely–no one needed to to send him there, he just went. It was real. A star beyond sports, and on display was a genuine moment beyond words. Right then and forever after, we were his teammates cheering him from our living rooms. Earth’s biggest star reminded us that athletes are human. Our hearts reach out to them, in these times, as public enticements extend beyond simple fanfare, becoming worthy of societal discussions.
That wasn’t the focus here.
Bode Miller’s painful recovery, after his younger brother’s death last year, was laid out as part of his back-story so that viewers could enjoy his success more as he won his sixth career Olympic medal. After his final race, in which he won the bronze medal, Christin Cooper, NBC reporter and friend of Bode’s, stepped up to ask him about the win. His reaction was sure to be intriguing.
Miller offered a quick answer at first, the onion was not peeling itself. So Cooper pushed a little, and then a lot, until a visceral response came. Miller, at a loss for words, struggled to speak until he reached a point of collapse. Cooper’s conduct was lambasted immediately on the web as inexcusable. For those watching, it was like driving by an accident, tantalized into rubbernecking. She should’ve stopped, but wanted her friend to show an innermost self to the world. He did just that, and we should praise him for planting his feet on the world’s stage and granting us a spell of joyful exultation.
What we saw in this case was a disturbing emotional barrage, calculated by NBC to manufacture their most prized product: a champion’s tears.
Based on viewers reactions, the consensus is that lines were been crossed, in the way that the man’s tears were produced. And NBC’s decision to air the entire interview and aftermath seemed way too much. Quite simply, it was cruel. Now, we deal with both the ethics of the ultra-personal and seemingly unprofessional interview, and can address, if we choose to, the modern, emotive prod-style journalism at large.
A tear-jerk moment was delivered, and while we celebrate the man who gave it to us, we can and must ponder the acceptability of squeezing emotions out of someone, knowing it may end up causing a breakdown, all in the name of “entertainment.”
From the near-universal response of viewers in this case, we don’t want to be entertained in that way.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Kevin Predaja