"Johnny Depp makes people cry in Wisconsin"–and Kenneth Burns explains why

One of the most insightful explanations of the frenzy that hit the Badger State while Johnny Depp was filming PUBLIC ENEMIES there appears in Kenneth Burns’ reflection on the Isthmus Daily Page. “My mind was blown when I read Rod Melotte’s account of the shoot earlier this week in Columbus. Melotte reports that hundreds — hundreds — of people had turned up at dawn on a cold Monday morning to take in the action,” writes Burns. “Here’s how Melotte describes one fan’s reaction to a sighting of the star: ‘The first time he passes, a young woman says over and over, “OH MY GOD IT WAS JOHNNY DEPP!” She borrows my cell phone to call her mom and is sobbing while telling the story of just how close she was to the actor. Sobbing!’ Which is weird, and possibly an overreaction.”

But maybe not–nor is the bursting-into-tears reaction limited to young women. Burns confesses that he wept through a George Jones concert five years ago, when the journalist was in his 30s and the country singer was 72. “So I identify with the young weeping woman in Columbus. Our popular entertainers can exert an awesome emotional pull on us, whether they’re moaning incomparably sad country songs, as George Jones does on his records, or looking incomparably beautiful on a 30-foot-high movie screen, as Johnny Depp does, in whatever role,” writes Burns. “And when we are in the actual presence of these entertainers, that emotion can’t help but come out–sometimes, in tears. They’re not tears of sorrow, obviously, but they’re not quite tears of joy, either. They’re a reaction that simply says: that is the person who moves me. That person standing freaking right there!”

Burns confesses that he understands this phenomenon–as would, he suspects, the burly male callers to sports radio shows in Wisconsin who sobbed when quarterback Brett Favre retired. “Actually, if I’d been standing with the young weeping woman in Columbus,” he concludes, “maybe I would have been weeping right along with her.” As would every member of the Zone . . . .

The Zone thanks Gilbert’s Girl for posting Mr. Burns’ column; you can read it in its entirety on the Pit. –Part-Time Poet