You don’t have to look far on the internet to find a mobile phone horror film. A terrible accident, a crime, a fight – any tragedy will do, from crying children to actual murders, and it’s all captured and posted online for the world to see. There will be plenty more, as well, as long as we live in a world saturated with cameras.
The thing is, mobile phone cameras don’t operate themselves. The real world has camera operators just as much as Hollywood does. Actually, the real world has more of them than Hollywood could ever dream of.
But Hollywood has trained us to ignore the people behind the cameras. They don’t exist, in the story. They’re invisible, along with the smoke machines and microphones and make-up artists and all the rest. If a fight breaks out on screen, we never think of yelling for the cameraman to jump in and help – he doesn’t exist.
But in real life, he does exist.
In real life, every phone recording a tragedy requires a person to stand back and hold it in their hands. To stand back out of the action, but close enough to capture it clearly. Close enough that they could probably lend a hand, if that hand wasn’t so busy with the camera. Or call for help, if the phone wasn’t busy taking video.
A friend of mine told me about a firefighter he knows who saw smoke rising from a house near the fire station. A truck was sent, and found a group of bystanders already standing by, with their phones up to livestream the action. The fire had grown for twenty minutes, trapping two people inside, but no one had attempted a rescue or called for help, even as they held phones in their hands.
I bet they got a lot of likes.