You’re Simply Not the Same in the Presence of the Camera

It’s just one of those things that stems in us from childhood. From the moment someone finds us too cute to be true and has to take a picture, the celebrity is born. We become someone else or a different version of ourselves when attention is put upon us. We become performers. Enough of us have witnessed the effects of the camera on someone who isn’t shy. They pose, fix their hair, shine their brightest smiles and even exaggerate their behaviors. I used to model swimwear as a child in the New York winters. My agents were my parents and the device was the family camera. My photos now make for a hell of a good time among friends and family. I was a performer from childhood, as many of us are.

As great as a camera may be however, it acts as a pressure, both good and bad depending on how you look at it. A pressure that lets you know that you’re being recorded and that whatever you do could be stored for an infinite amount of time. There’s no better example of the pressures of a camera than in the television industry. Take the news. Do you always blindly accept what is televised as true, or do you have a sliver of doubt that not everything is what it seems when there’s a camera around? When cameras are aimed, people get excited. Even if they weren’t initially. Some will shout and scream, pretending they are in accord with a particular sentiment, all because of the pressures of the camera.

An event without cameras is usually different once cameras are pulled out. People get ballsy. They get daring and give viewers what they want to see because they too are viewers at home. So they understand. Given the change, they too want to be a part of the entertainment. But the camera is not only a pressure. It introduces an entirely different element: the element of framing. Of manipulating the camera to see a certain side of a story. Yes, cameras can be biased too. And that’s why not everything you see on television can be trusted. Even on the news. Take the April 9, 2003 toppling of a Saddam Hussein statue in central Baghdad, Iraq by U.S. Marines. It was just the beginning of the Iraq War and here was an event that made it look like the war was over, or soon to be. It portrayed a large crowd of Iraqi dissenters excited to take down the statue when in reality, there were only a handful of them. The rest of those crowded around were journalists. But the video accounts don’t show that. The media got so entangled with the story that things were cropped out. The stern faces and crossed arms of other onlookers were not captured.

And reality television. I hate to burst your bubble if it hasn’t already been burst, but reality television is not reality. More often times than not it’s a scripted performance where producers manipulate content and camera angles to paint entirely different versions of actual events. Reality stars are not really who they seem to be in front of the camera. They put on different faces when the cameras are around. Either they occult their true feelings for fear of judgment, or they see the camera as a stamp of approval to be on their worst or best behaviors. I watch the Real Housewives series. I prefer to deny claims about show scripting, but I accept that what I see from characters is not always what’s real.

The camera has the ability of highlighting anything it wants to. In television, it sees what viewers are going to respond to, both in shows and in the news. It can be misleading and show a completely different scenario than the reality. And people are different when faced with so much attention. Sentiments are morphed in the presence of a camera. Just remember that what you see is not always reality, even in news. Even on CNN and other respected networks (how I love CNN!) We have to decide for ourselves if what we see is the truth.

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