‘Compassion Fatigue’ – S Cottle Theory

The theory of ‘compassion fatigue’ formed  by Simon Cottle is based around the ideas that audiences become fatigued and immune to images that they see through the media on a continuous basis.

An example of this would be the images that are used in many charity television advertisements such as Oxfam and UNICEF.  The images used by these charities are very shocking, normally focusing on ill nourished children who have a shocking appearance due to the living conditions they are having to endure. The shocking images appear so much on our screens nowadays that audiences become fatigued by them which leads to them becoming less shocking and a sense of ‘normality’.The Save The Children advert that was my initial inspiration is also another advert that can be linked to compassion fatigue.

Simon Cottle argues that “audiences have become inured to the moral compulsion of such images and our capacity for compassion has become overwhelmed or ‘fatigued’ by their constant circulation in the media” (S.Cottle 2009:128).

This theory means that to create emotion within my audiences I am not going to be able to focus on the imagery alone. I want audiences to connect to my video pieces so by just focusing on using shocking imagery I would be risking the emotional status of my video and how effective it could be. This means I will  have to experiment further with sound and lighting to see the different impacts they can have on an audience. 

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