A brief word about crying babies on television

The season finale of Mad Men tonight included a crying baby scene, and all I could think was “can somebody please just shut that kid up?”

This is a pretty common human reaction, I think, to any crying baby, whether that crying baby is mediated or not, and especially if that crying baby is not your own. Call me insensitive or whatever. That’s fine. You know you’ve thought it.

However, I think most of us are reasonable enough to understand that crying babies are simply a part of life. We try to reduce our exposure to them, in the same way we seek to avoid watching other people defecate or reduce our exposure to house music, but a total elimination of crying babies from the human experience would not be a human experience at all.

And yet TV shows are constantly shoving crying babies onto the screen for no reason. The Mad Men scene to which I referred was not a baby-centered scene. The scene was not about the baby, and yet there was a baby, on the screen, bawling. If you’re like me, all you could think of during that scene was how much longer you were going to have to be listening to this baby. In my mind, nothing else was happening in the scene. They might as well have gone to a black screen and played crying baby sounds for five seconds.

Once again, I understand that crying babies are a part of life and, I don’t know, maybe if it’s your crying baby things are different. But a crying TV baby is nobody’s baby. It’s just a crying baby sound they probably recorded in the 70s. It is a minor irritation of everyday life that for some reason gets special treatment on television. They don’t show people taking poops on TV unless it’s a pooping scene. They don’t show people with little pieces of food on their face unless it’s a food on face scene. They don’t show people randomly getting flat tires on the way to something unless it’s a plot point.

And yet: crying babies.

 

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