Manipulative Editing

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Reality TV shows thrive on conflict between the contestants. Theoretically, the conflict is more gripping because it's real, with no scriptwriters, second takes, or most importantly editors. Everything that happened really happened, just as it's shown.

If you believe that, Trope Co has a bridge to sell you for cheap with a great view of Brooklyn.

In point of fact, there are reality TV writers, there can be "OK, can you say that again, only this time with more emotion", and there are certainly editors. While the specific events may be outside of the producers' direct control (although that varies depending on the show, and don't count out less direct influence), each episode of reality TV often compresses days into 44 minutes...and how the events are compressed can change a scene, a contestant's attitude, and alter "reality" to the point that it's barely recognizable as such to those who were there.

Common forms of Manipulative Editing include:

  • Cherry-picking from the Confession Cam. This one is almost too easy; only take the words wanted, without their context. Or, splice together sentences. A hint for catching this one — if the scene shifts mid-sentence, there's no guarantee that all the words came from the same Confession Cam.
  • For that matter, cherry-picking period. Imagine if your entire relationship with your best friend was to be summed up in ten minutes. Now imagine that the summation consisted of your combined worst ten minutes — your loudest arguments, your worst fights, your angriest moments ever. If someone who didn't know you or your friend saw only the summation, he might well conclude that you had once been friends, but were now mortal enemies.
    • Also don't forget the power of context and invoking Poe's Law. Imagine if you were to do an impression of something that's intentionally made to look and/or sound silly, yet it's filmed, and the part where you say you're doing an impression and laughing at yourself is left on the cutting room floor. It'd be quite easy to imagine you really are like that. This is quite a common way of Cherry-picking.
  • Cherry-picking is also called a "Frankenbite" — different soundbites are stitched together to create a new whole.
  • Pointed questions. Along with the Confession Cam, there can occasionally be directed interviews where the contestant is told to talk about X or Y. Here, the unseen interviewer may well provoke the contestant into giving better sound bites, and then cherry-pick only the worst bits.
  • Temporal shenanigans. Two events which took place days or weeks apart are shown to have happened simultaneously, or even the other way around, making anger seem buried which was actually dealt with sooner, or adding additional context. If Bob says something about Alice just as Alice walks into the room, it's not impossible that Bob had actually said it several hours earlier and Alice didn't hear it.
  • Causal deletion. Sometimes, people do things for no reason. Sometimes, though, they have reasons...but if the reasons get left on the cutting-room floor, they look like they don't. This can make even the most justified anger seem petty and immature.
    • Denial of information. Like the above, sometimes information like an alliance forming or paranoia setting in gets denied and makes it seem like a split-second decision when they were really mulling it over for hours or even days.
  • Prompting. Yes, sometimes contestants will simply be told "say this".
  • Worst-side shooting. Reality TV can have a demanding schedule, and the days can be stressful to the point of exhausting. If it's a Reality TV Show Mansion show, then the contestants are also in near-total isolation, with no phones, no laptops, no music players...they have nothing to interact with besides each other. Twenty-four hours a day. For weeks on end. Try it sometime — you and your best friend will be at each other's throats inside two weeks, we guarantee. Couple that with the other factors above, especially the cherry-picking...
  • Switching around an order of events. This can be a tricky form of manipulative editing, but sometimes you can make it seem like someone willed an event to happen (such as an injury) when they were either talking about it later or joking about it afterward.
  • Music. Take a shot of a guy staring off into space. Add music, and suddenly he is heroic, wistful, or on the verge of launching his career as an Ax Crazy killer.

Like pretty much anything on television, Charlie Brooker has referenced it in his show, and showed how easy all of the above can be done. The YouTube nerds have put the footage here.

Compare Quote Mine.

Examples of Manipulative Editing include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • This Trope is often used in Italian telefilms (and sometimes cartoons) commercials to make the characters talk with the voiceover.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Played straight in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed when the newscasters cherrypick through Fred's short rebuttal on how the newscasters cherrypick through rebuttals on what they want to hear (in other words, proving him right).

Fred (before editing): Wait a minute! You're going to edit what I say to make people think I think Coolsville sucks!
Fred (after editing): I think Coolsville sucks!

    • Granted, the newcasters actually are the villain.
  • The movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma was cherrypicked by its own trailer in a quite sloppy fashion — it juxtaposed clips of Emma saying "I love John" (caption: Emma loves John) and "I hate John" (caption: Emma loves Frank). Austen fans would know that John Knightley is actually Emma's brother-in-law and the love interest kissing Emma in the trailer is John's older brother George. IMDB has the full quote in context.
  • It's a major plot point in the 1987 movie The Running Man, specifically Ben Richards and his refusal to go through with the Bakersfield Massacre after seeing that those he was sent to kill were unarmed women and children — all despite the police ordering him to fire. The edited footage has the police ordering him to retreat and Richards refusing.
  • In the 1994 comedy Clifford, Martin Short plays a mischievous child who ruins his uncle's (played by Charles Grodin) life. In one scene, he has a recording of his uncle describing Clifford as "...a ticking time bomb that no one can stop. Even I do not have the patience to deal with this boy." Smash cut to Clifford editing the sound clips to send in a bomb threat. "I---have a bomb that no one can stop. A ticking time bomb."
  • Michael Moore gets accused of doing this in his documentaries. A lot.
    • For example, in Bowling for Columbine, where he showed what a heartless bastard Charlton Heston was for holding an NRA fundraiser in Colorado shortly after the Columbine massacre and gloating with the "cold, dead fingers" speech to mock the victims. While the NRA did indeed hold an event in Colorado -which was postponed for several months out of respect for said victims- sharp-eyed viewers may notice that Heston is wearing a different suit for that speech than he wears in the rest of the footage.
  • The documentary Teenage Tourette Camp focused intently on a fight between two girls, apparently editing out clips of them getting along. The editors also, very obviously at times, edited the footage to make it look as though a person was spewing out a succession of tics that probably happened over several minutes. Not to mention that half of the tics shown were the rare ones of involuntary swearing.
  • In Helmut Dietl's Late Show, a sleazy reporter photoshops two unrelated pictures (of the wife of a radio talkmaster-turned-late-night TV talk host, who had a riding accident, and his Porsche which was wrecked, but by someone else for completely different reasons). Justified in that he makes this story up for the German tabloids, where truth is optional. (Nowadays the photo would look so 'shopped, but keep in mind the movie is from 1999. Technology Marches On.)
  • In the movie Black Sheep, the corrupt incumbent governor sends some thugs to burn down the children's activity center that her rival's brother Mike works in, to cause speculation that he is unbalanced and smear her opponent. A photographer manages to snap some pictures of the arson, and threatens to go to the press with them...or the governor can pay for some that show Mike fighting the fire, which make him look like the culprit.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Invoked in Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin attempts to establish a fictitious childhood by having Hobbes take pictures of him out of context so it looks like he is always behaving that way.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Referenced in the Ben Elton novel Dead Famous — to draw in ratings for her Big Brother-esque reality show, the producer creates a mock lesbian scene between two contestants (running an unrelated dialogue about finding head massage sensual over footage of one of the women washing the other's hair) and tries to make another contestant look unpopular by splicing together sound clips to have her say that she hates the other housemates.
    • In the same book, this very same technique also runs the risk of backfiring badly on the producers; one of the housemates is an insufferable animal-rights activist who proceeds to drive the other contestants mad with his very poor hygiene (he believes that, since fleas are living creatures, it's immoral to kill them — and soon the entire house is infected) and hypocritical self-righteousness. However, because the audience likes him his appearances are edited to present him in the best possible light while the others are unfairly made to look like bullies, with the result that much to everyone's horror he gets kept on. However, the other contestants immediately catch on to what's happened and call the producers out on what they've had to suffer through with regards to him and the obvious skewing they've been doing, threatening to walk off the project and leaving the producer with the choice of either getting rid of the activist or having him be the only contestant. Fortunately for her, he once bashed in a girl's head on a protest march and the police soon come a-calling...
    • It also features the rarely-seen aftermath of such skewering; the first contestant to get kicked off the show finds that everyone on the outside hates her thanks to the way she was depicted and she's basically trapped in a life as a scorned joke. While she is shown to be a bit obnoxious in the house, she's no worse than the other housemates, and is understandably bitter about the whole thing as a result.
    • Also done in Ben Elton's later book, Chart Throb, about a Pop Idol-style show. They call them Frankenbites.
  • This is used in Skeleton Key, where the President of Russia is asked about a baggage handlers' strike and gives the answer "This is my holiday, I'm too busy to deal with that" (he is very, very drunk at this point). The Big Bad's plan is to cause a nuclear disaster and change the question to "What are you going to do about the Murmansk incident?"


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • 30 Rock parodied this trope when Tracey's wife Angie got her own reality TV show. An argument that Tracey and Liz had was edited to seem like an apology and the producers went so far as to have actors portray the two so that the scene could end with a hug. Also, Jack was edited to appear gay and badly hiding it.
  • A 1999 episode of The Bill featured the police officer characters being filmed by a documentary crew ala Cops. This practice was cleverly referenced in the plot itself — one of the production crew blackmails Detective Sergeant John Bolton by claiming she can manipulate the editing, and portray him in a negative light by making it look like he lost a murder weapon during a raid on a flat. Ultimately this is turned the other way, as the weapon was eventually recovered, and the TV team then went back and filmed some close-up shots of it in its original location so they could re-edit the footage of the original raid and make it look like the weapon was recovered in the first place.
  • Dr. House was a victim of benevolent editing when the documentary crew filming a patient he cured changed the context of his usual comments, turning them from the verbal abuse of a man who belittles his staff, the patient, and the crew itself into a heartwarming portrayal of a kind man who became a doctor "because of the movie Patch Adams".

Cuddy (after watching the early copy, wiping away fake tears): It's difficult not to be moved.
House: Oh, stop it. Suddenly I don't feel I can trust Michael Moore movies.
Cuddy: Where are you going? Kittens to get out of trees, blind kids to read to?
House: I owe it to the world to make sure this evil never sees the light of day.

    • There was also some Manipulative Editing done for the previews. In one episode, the preview showed them entering the house of a patient who was a horder. The preview ends with a cut after they lift up a blanket and see a pair of legs underneath, heavily implying it to be a dead body. However, in the episode, the "Dead body" was actually the patient's wife who was hiding.
  • Estate of Panic: On any given episode, you can hear sound bites of some of the contestants' interjections five or six times over the course of the show. One show in particular had a 10-second long or so sound bite of a contestant from another episode screaming repeatedly.
  • Used in the Babylon 5 episode "The Illusion Of Truth". The editing makes it look as if Sheridan is hiding plans to replace humans with aliens. (They were hiding things from the news crew, but it was something completely different.)
    • Also used when Londo meets a technomage and tries to tape their conversation in a way that looks like they are allies.
      • This episode covers propaganda so well that it is used in journalism classes.
  • In an episode of The Surreal Life, Erik Estrada opened his bathrobe in front of Tammy Faye, and his crotch area was blurred. What you didn't see was Erik's underwear.
  • The Trope is referenced in Britain's Got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice, where the viewer is teased before the break with Geraldine giving an interview in a bad mood. In the actual interview, it turns out she was in a perfectly good mood and she was merely quoting that R Wayne was fed up with this Trope.
  • The promos for Hells Kitchen make liberal use of cherrypicking to add drama. In Season 4, one episode saw Matt accidentally cut the tip off his thumb during the challenge, and food critics showing up for dinner service; the promos made it look like the events were one and the same, implying that the severed portion of Matt's thumb ended up on the critic's plate.
    • And again in Season 5, where the women's team slips while carrying a cow carcass into the kitchen and briefly panics when they see blood, learning to their relief that it just came from the meat. Guess which part wasn't shown in the promos?
    • The show doesn't even bother trying to hide that they are editing previews of the next episode and are much easier to spot. Season 6 had a preview of the chefs being woken up in the middle of the night and being told there's a fire and firetrucks show up. The reality? There's no fire at all and Ramsay just woke up the chefs so they can serve food to a bunch of firefighters for the next challenge. Season 7 showed two contestants seemingly getting romantic in one scene, then Ramsay saying "I am going to do something I have never done before" as if he was going to make them choose between the relationship or the trip to London as part of the prize everyone wanted. The end result? Ramsay's statement was just based on him doing something different for the next challenge.
  • On Colombian Telenovelas, the things that happen at the promos for the next episode at the end almost never happen they way they make it seem they will. The same goes for the promos for The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
  • An in-universe example happens in the Leverage episode "The Juror #6 Job" — Hardison splices together the question "Who finds in favor of the defendant?" with the jurors' reactions to the question "Who wants pizza for lunch?"
  • Used in this Jon Stewart Emmys bit. Stewart explains that he was asked to pretape his speech about Katrina so the censors could check it over. The speech has been obviously chopped up (and dubbed over, and fast-forwarded) and he ends up accusing officials of being "incompetent, unacceptable, and shockingly inept".
  • Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In did a skit a few times that pretended to be this. They'd interview some celebrity (such as John Wayne) and then announce "Now we'll show you what could be done by unscrupulous editing of this interview." The modified version had Wayne saying of critics "They can kiss my Levis!"
  • Professional Wrestling does it all the time, specifically to exclude people that have left the company...whether they're working elsewhere, left on bad terms, or...well, you know (Chris Benoit). A recent WWE example was in the videos used to hype Triple H vs. Randy Orton for Wrestlemania 25. In the part that made reference to HHH and Stephanie McMahon being married, they used wedding footage with Stephanie and a guy with long blond hair (presumably HHH, only seen from the back). However, that man was actually Andrew "Test" Martin and the footage was from their "wedding" on Raw in late 2000 that HHH interrupted. Surreal when you consider that Test died not too long ago.
    • When CNN interviewed John Cena for their "Death Grip" documentary, CNN edited it to make it appear that Cena admitted to taking steroids. WWE cried foul over this, and aired the unedited version of Cena's interview.
  • In Mick Foley's second book "Foley is Good!", he talks about an incident when he appeared on ABC News Primetime to talk about wrestling. Diane Sawyer showed him two videos of "backyard wrestling". The first was pretty harmless and Mick said "that looked like a lot of fun...but I suspect you've got something else to show me too." They then showed him a much more brutal match. He said that he actually grew nauseous and asked the tape to stop before it was completed, then condemned the second video as unsafe and unprofessional, saying that he would never recommend anybody go this route in pursuit of a professional wrestling career (ironic given his background, but at least he had a solid education in the basics). When the show aired, they broadcast footage of the second match followed by Mick's reaction to the first match.
  • Weird Al's celebrity interviews.
  • The Green Beret and Spetsnaz representatives of Deadliest Warrior reveal in the comments section of The Aftermath - Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz that some level of Manipulative Editing is done to make both parties seem more confrontational to each other. For example, a finger gesture directed at the director for joking about the Spetsnaz was edited so that it looked like the Spetsnaz was flipping off the Green Beret as they were walking in.
    • There has been some controversy around the idea that some weapons may have been picked due to coolness factor rather than what the warriors actually wielded.
  • Used on 24 in Season 2, where during President Palmer's impeachment proceeding it is made to look like the President ordered the torture of an innocent man by erasing the portion of a tape where he confessed to helping the terror plot.
  • Self-aware news parodies admit to doing this from time to time...because, well, it's funny and that's their job. Other times, you have to give the contributors credit...they really are just that good at getting people to look silly and say things they don't realize will make them look bad.

Jon Stewart: You think by now, they would know what we do. Why does anyone still agree to come on this show?!

If you--value your--jobs... donut--mess up.

  • The Fast Show spin-off Swiss Toni had an episode where the titular character was invited to appear on a television show. His employees gave fairly positive responses when queried on whether he was a good boss, but they would be edited to remove the positive aspects; one employee stated that he's usually good, but occasionally "he's a tosser"...but the edited version simply said "he's a tosser".
  • Parodied on Dead Ringers with a sketch based on the health show You Are What You Eat (the name is changed to You Are What We Edit). After the subject describes his perfectly healthy lifestyle to the presenter, she declares "That's not nearly unhealthy enough to give our viewers a smug sense of superiority!" and edits it.

Original Line: Well, I can't bear to lounge around on the sofa staring at the telly. I'm always careful what I eat. For instance, I avoid eating snacks, as I don't want to get fat, and I'm trying to exercise regularly to keep myself looking good.
Edited Line: Well, I / lounge around on the sofa staring at the telly. I avoid / exercise / f/or / snacks. / I eat / fat, and / fat, and / fat. / Good.

    • Worth noting that the man in question would not have objected to this: Trevor admitted straight off that "I don't really have a weight problem, but I've always wanted to feel vaguely important, so I'm desperate to appear on a Channel 4 makeover show."
  • Contestants auditioning for American Idol don't go directly to the celebrity judge panel; they first sing for staffers who try to sort people into "maybe good enough to be on the show", "not good enough to be on the show", and "so terrible it'll be funny". Former contestants have alleged that the producers spliced together footage of their initial screening by the staffers so as it make it appear that they were singing in front of Randi, Simon, and Paula. This apparently happens frequently if a contestant sings badly for the show's staffers and is put through to the judges as a "joke contestant", but then pulls it together and gives a significantly better performance before the judges. The producers simply edit things to make it appear that the "so bad it's funny" attempt was done before the judges, and the contestant's mildly-mediocre performance before the judges is never seen by viewers at home. This seems to explain instances where contestants appeared to give horrible performances that should have elicited scathing comments from Simon, but were dismissed with a much milder "sorry, it's just not good enough" comment.
    • The show facilitates this by encouraging the contestants to wear the same outfit to every audition. At least until Season 9, where the wording was changed to be a bit softer, but it was still stressed verbally. If you want to catch some manipulative editing, look at what jewelry the contestant is wearing and how their hair is done when they talk to Seacrest outside, versus what they're wearing when they're singing. Because most kids will remember what dress/shirt they wore, but won't remember what jewelry they had on.
    • There are also reports of the producers asking contestants to sing a different song that they aren't prepared for during the initial audition screening and recording the results, which invariably sounds terrible because the contestant hasn't practiced the song and/or doesn't even know all the words. The producers then edit this footage in with shots of the contestant walking in and out of the judging room so that they appear to have been badly botching the audition in front of the judges, when in fact during their actual appearance before the judges they sang a completely different song.
  • X Factor finalist Rhydian Roberts was a victim of manipulative editing during the audition shows, thanks to the editors' attempts to make him the show's Pantomime villain. The live shows proved he was really a nice polite boy from Wales...and Crazy Awesome. Following a few performances like this Moment of Awesome, he went from being the outsider to the bookies' favourite.
  • If Kurt Harland (of 1980s synthpop group Information Society) is to be believed, the 2004 VH1 series Bands Reunited took this Trope one step further. Besides plenty of manipulative editing, they manipulated actual events — they staged a scene where three out of the four band members reunited (even though the three of them had driven to the site together), and had the host wait outside for Harland even though the producers and the other band members knew well ahead of time that he had decided not to do an interview.
  • Actually done on Survivor a lot:
    • The several trailers for Samoa made it seem like Russell was being targeted for elimination. The episode itself showed no such talk of elimination.
      • The focus on Russell is actually discussed in this column, the writer, an acclaimed Survivor columnist and possibly the foremost expert on the show Mario Lanza, points out how Russell's many mistakes in the Heroes vs Villains season were either a) buried by the editors, or b) made to look like really good moves. As he puts it at one point:

"In the episode they say that Russell planted a "Russell Seed" in Tyson's head, and that that got Tyson to switch his vote. But that's complete B.S. Remember, the episodes also claim that Russell impregnated Helen of Troy and started the Trojan War. If you'd like to know how badly the producers fudged this to make it look like Russell had anything to do with it, go read Tyson's post game interviews. Tyson thought he was being tricky and he essentially voted himself out."

    • Just recently, in the first show of one season, Courtney Yates was made to look like more of a villainess than she really was when Stephanie Lagrossa's shoulder was dislocated in a challenge. She didn't seriously yell at her teammates to "break her shoulder", she actually said that after Stephanie's shoulder was dislocated and was intended as a joke. But when it's said before it happens? Sounds an awful lot like an order, doesn't it?
    • In Australian Outback, one person was edited to look like a Lazy Bum. Months later, his fellow tribemates immediately leaped to his defense.
    • Most of tribal council is omitted due to time constraints.
    • It's assumed that Purple Kelly on Nicaragua was intentionally edited to be Out of Focus as revenge by the producers for quitting. Naonka at least had a lot of stuff to create drama and that impacted the game so she couldn't have been as edited out as Purple Kelly was.
    • Hell, THE ENTIRE SHOW might fall under this trope. The great bulk of footage for Survivor has never been released. While the show probably isn't "staged" or whatnot, this leaves room for a viewer to cry Manipulative Editing for practically any scene in any episode.
      • They especially do this to make a "story". Recently in Redemption Island, 90% of the cast appeared to have been edited into animated dummies while the editors who were obviously hardcore Boston Rob fans made sure the audience never forgot how much they loved him, as well as Matt and Phillip.
      • The hardest hit were Kristina who found the idol in episode one, was voted out and eliminated third and never mentioned again. The plan to eliminate Russell was actually Sarita's idea, we didn't even see her until Dave was arguing with her. Dave was supposed to be a really good competitor, yet all the time we got to really see him compete was when he lost, and the other footage that existed of him was just him fighting with Sarita. Did you also know that Russell and his alliance actually took rice while everyone else was fishing?
    • In Thailand and Africa, when Jeff comes back to read the votes for who won the million dollars, it's actually a quick cut to the reunion...with the stage diguised as the tribal council area, making it at first look like Jeff was revealing the votes right there. You can actually catch this in Thailand, where finalist Clay seems to suddenly gain about 10-20 pounds in between the time where Jeff tallied the votes and then came back to reveal them.
    • Most often, they actually do this to have a bit of fun.
      • One of the most famous is in Micronesia. Episode two, Kathy asks who they're voting out and Joel tells her "Mary". Kathy asks, "Who?". The next episode, Jeff announces that Mary was voted out, and Eliza says, "Mary?!". It looks like they have no idea who they're actually playing the game with. In actuality, Kathy was asking for clarification and Eliza was expressing shock at how it was her that was voted out and not Chet. Of course they knew who Mary was; but it was still pretty funny regardless.
    • In Tocantins, Coach was portrayed as this lying crazy guy who was always making up weird crap. This troper attended the college he was soccer coach at and the same church that he did and he is an incredibly nice guy. Each week after an episode aired he would answer questions about what really happened, rather than what it was edited to look like.
      • Many times, they actually ignored how he was joking or was just putting on a show for everyone else. Coach seems very aware of this; and in Heroes vs. Villains and South Pacific, he acts almost nothing like it.
    • Lex in All-Stars was shown having an epic Oh Crap face after Kathy decides she's going to keep her immunity necklace. According to Lex post-game, he knew Kathy was going to keep it and even encouraged her to do so, but the transition from Kathy saying "I'm going to keep it" to Lex's look of sheer terror was - story-wise - a fitting conclusion to the Villainous Breakdown that Lex went through in his last episode.
  • Big Brother would often do this, since it's an abridged live-feeds show. Examples of this include:
    • Jeff's homophobic comments and outbursts are essentially a Noodle Incident - the way you see him on the show, you'd think he's a perpetually nice Stepford Smiler.
      • It also helps that Big Brother 13 in general has been a bunch of Pandering to the Base. The editors have taken a couple cues from the Survivor editors and have made sure that the show revolves all around the editors favourites and the eight guest stars known as the "newbies" as well. Did you know Porsche and Lawon were even in the house? Did you even know Kalia was in the house until week four? Well, if you forgot about Porsche, you're not alone - the editors seemed to have forgotten about her too, until she appeared out of virtually nowhere.
        • And even more recently, people who watched the feeds can tell you a different story on what happened at week 5. Shelly approached Kalia with the idea to backdoor Porsche so that Jeff, Jordan, and Rachel would forgive Kalia and it would get her further in the game. Then that's when Daniele got upset with Kalia in the HOH room in that last part of the episode. However, the editors made it seem like Rachel, one of the Producers' Pets, did all the work and gave Shelly no credit whatsoever. It makes it look like Shelly and the other newbies are complete idiots. It's going to be incredibly weird if later in the series, Kalia or Daniele mention Shelly coming up with that idea. And they did.
    • In season 8, Jessica appears to be saying something rude about Carol when she was evicted. In actuality, that wasn't her goodbye message. They didn't even play it because it was "Too nice".
  • As noted above, Charlie Brooker discussed the phenomenon at length in Screenwipe. As an example, the show put together a mini-reality show which showed several sections played naturally and then strategically edited to present the participants in best or worst light — for example, a bit where Brooker cracks a self-admittedly lame joke which receives a moderately good-humoured response in reality, but is then strategically edited to appear as if it bombed.
  • An episode of Jonathan Creek features two examples in the same filmed segment. It begins with Jonathan's boss, magician Adam Klaus, filming a segment for a TV show in which he approaches a member of the public and predicts the number they will tell him by revealing it under his shirt. Of course, he's had the number "36" tattooed on there in advance, which prompts a long afternoon filming him stopping random passers-by in the street, asking them a number, and getting increasingly frustrated when they give him every number but "36" (or, in the case of one guy, punching him for no reason). Later, when they've finally found someone to give him the right number and are editing it together, Adam remarks that he doesn't remember the woman laughing so much when he makes the big reveal; Jonathan takes rather malicious pleasure in telling him that this is a bit where she was actually laughing at him stepping in some dogshit in the street, and they've spliced it in.
  • On NCIS, this Trope gave Gibbs trouble in the Season 3 episode "Model Behavior" when reporters misrepresented him on camera — impressive given how little he said while storming through the press mob with a scowl on his face.
  • One example from Robot Wars in an otherwise completely unremarkable fight between Chaos 2 and an otherwise unremarkable robot called Medusa 2000. A 15-minute battle in reality becomes a 5-minute battle where Medusa 2000 can't escape Chaos 2 at all.
  • In The Amazing Race, the bottom two teams in any given leg are always made to look as if they're neck and neck, no matter how far apart they really are. The one exception is in the finals, where instead it's the top two teams (Seasons 7 and 16 were especially bad, as the top two teams finished, respectively, 45 and 25 minutes apart).
  • Paranormal State is apparently quite fond of editing footage for maximum drama.
  • Even True Life is guilty of staging some scenes, though usually only so that they can get scenes that are important to the theme of the episode. For most folks with really extreme life circumstances, though, all they have to do is follow them around. Usually there isn't much actual editing or splicing of the tape, since it is supposed to be "True Life".
  • Then-18-year-old pornographic actress Sasha Grey was openly unhappy about her interview on The Tyra Banks Show. Grey claims that she was forced to wear a deliberately girlish wardrobe that she was handed, made to wear blusher and tie her hair to appear more childlike, and that all her responses to Tyra's questions had been edited out, making her appear as if she had nothing to say in response to Tyra, and overly demonizing her and her line of work. At the end of that vlog entry, Grey also adds that Banks' wardrobe department had stolen her earrings.
  • In the Christmas episodes of the British version of The Office, Pointy-Haired Boss David Brent—who has fallen on hard times after losing his job and failing to jumpstart a media career on the back of his appearances in the show, which has shown him to be largely a jerk—argues that the film crew who followed him and his employees around 'stitched him up' by doing this, presenting a top-heavy depiction of the moments that made him look like a clown (which, to be fair, there were lots of) and not showing enough of the moments where he actually did do a good job and / or managed to charm people. Interestingly, the Christmas episodes go some way towards rectifying this, showing him in a more charming, competent light, as if the documentary makers felt bad about this and were trying to make it up to him.
  • Hilariously done on Top Gear, during the Electric Car challenge. The team attempt to edit the footage to make it look like their Epic Failure of a car, The Hammerhead Eagle i Thrust passed the safety tests. They wind up making some of the most obviously edited footage imaginable. "Tuokool!"
  • Parodied in an episode of Victorious where several Hollywood Arts students are asked to star in a reality show. The producers splice together Tori's conversation with her grandmother with Beck ordering a pizza in a way that made it sound like the two were having an affair.
  • This was shown in one episode of My Name Is Earl where Earl helps out a reporter on his list by being the protagonist of a reportage about him and his family. What was a heart-warming interview went through incredible amounts of cherry-picking to make Randy look even more stupid on purpose.
  • Shown in an episode of That's So Raven when Raven and Chelsea were on a reality show together. The interviews were manipulated to make it look like the best friends really hated each other, in the hopes of starting an actual argument that could be filmed. The girls catch on, and expose the scam.
  • Invoked in an episode of MythBusters, where they showed a clip of Adam and Jamie solving Rubik's Cubes - Adam while blindfolded, and Jamie using his feet. They then revealed that they had actually filmed clips of themselves scrambling the cubes and played it backwards, and had an intern walk backwards across the room in the background to add verismilitude.
    • Likewise, a lot of testing tends to get cut for time constraints; but normally these are just replicating the results, so it's rather justified.
  • An episode of Storage Wars shows Barry giving Dave a hat with his bidding Catch Phrase (a loud, obnoxious "Yuuuuup!") on the front, so that he would shut up and point to the hat instead, with poor results. However, later that episode, Dave's employees show up to the locker he won with "Yuuuuup!" and a copyright mark on their T-shirts. Dave's hat already has a copyright mark on it as well.


Magazines[edit | hide]

  • Mad Magazine makes fun of this a couple times, where they make fun of dating reality shows to make them sound like perverts.
    • In one, they add in bleeps in strategic places:

"Your eyes are so beautiful. I can look you in the eyes all night until morning."
"Awwww, thank you."

    • to:

"Your eyes are so beautiful. I can *bleep*k you in the *bleep* all night until morning.
"Awwww, *bleep*k you."

    • And in another, they mention switching questions around.

"We hear you visited the grand canyon recently, what did you think about it?"
"Man, it's huge! It's beautiful, everyone should see it!"

    • To

"Describe your best feature."
"Man, it's huge! It's beautiful, everyone should see it!"


Music[edit | hide]

  • Common in experimental music built around sample editing. It can range from the puerile (Stunt Rock's earlier works, Teh Soup Rebellion) to the utterly bizarre (Wobbly's "Wild Why," containing such gems as "Them brain transport young boys who sport" and "There's no bedroom in the shower on the patio," or John Oswald's "The Case of Death.")
  • Vaginal Bear Trap opened "stream" with an edited sample from a newscast;

"...couldn't be here today, he was murdered and set on fire while celebrating his birthday."


Radio[edit | hide]

  • In Adventures in Odyssey, Cryin' Bryan Dern tells Jimmy Barclay about the the application of this Trope — record someone when they don't know about it and broadcast it in such an order that it makes them look stupid. Jimmy uses this on Eugene, and then has the tables turned on him by Dern.
  • This was the premise of the Radio Free Vestibule sketch "Laurence Olivier for Diet Coke".


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • It's very popular to do this using the voice clips of the characters in Team Fortress 2. With good timing and some creativity with voice commands, it's even possible in-game.

"All of you are stupid, stupid, STUPID!"

  • Somewhat done in Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego??, in which the player has to get a spool of thread from a factory that's closed so Thomas Edison can get his light bulb completed. What has to be done is put the phonograph below the window and record the Factory Guard's boss saying "Do not give those rascals a spool of thread!", then playing "Give those rascals a spool of thread!" to the guard who can't see you.
  • As in the Gabriel Knight example, there's also a puzzle like this in Torin's Passage which requires you to manipulate a recording so that someone appears to be saying something they aren't.
  • Left 4 Bed
  • This sad fate befell Final Fantasy X, as YouTube videos show the Annoying Laugh scene. If you view them, it looks like Tidus and Yuna just laugh like madpeople or ducks for no good reason. Yet if you view the scene in context, or even the original Japanese version, you'd be surprised to find that they're actually intending to sound fake and over-the-top. At this point in the story, they're forcing themselves to laugh, because events have caused them to doubt they'll ever be that happy again.
  • "I am the SHAZBOT!".[1]


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Penny and Aggie, here. Sara is about to go on a reality show, and to prevent this sort of editing her friends advise her to constantly change her physical appearance to make it harder to splice together clips from different days. They do it anyway.
  • Screencap comics are this trope, albeit justified in that that's how they are made in the first place. The creator of DM of the Rings noted that he could find a picture of Aragorn looking stoned/hungover in almost every scene he was in. ("I’ve come to think of him as Stareagorn").


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Television Without Pity snarks on one particular Frankenbite in this recap.
  • There is a particular species of Fan Vid which basically involves editing together scenes from a movie/TV show/game/whatever in order to make it look like a gay love story. A related strain involves editing wholesome family movies to look like terrifying horror flicks, or vice versa.
    • One would actually be very surprised at how much Mary Poppins looks like a movie where the nanny wants to terrify and kill the children with the right clips, or how The Shining looks like a simple family comedy. There's even a trailer in which it's implied that in Cinderella, the title character goes Ax Crazy after the stepsisters ruin her dress...
    • There's a similar video which uses strategic censoring to make Count Von Count from Sesame Street say...something that wouldn't appear in a kid's show.

"Because I really love to ****!"

  • A popular gag in YouTube Poop videos is to edit a character's dialogue so they end up saying something weird, dirty, or both. This practice is known as "Sentence Mixing" (where single words generally stay intact) and "Word Splicing" (where words are cut up, put together and somehow, it works). For example, Robotnik's Face is Politically Incorrect changes Dr. Robotnik's line "I, the baron of badness, the knight of nastiosity, am on the brink of my greatest success!" to "I'm on the brink of incest!"
    • Robotnik's YouTube Poop catchphrase, "PINGAS!" (which sounds like "penis") is also an example: it comes from the phrase "Snooping as usual, I see!" It was discovered by Stegblob and first used in Robotnik Has a Viagra Overdose.
      • There's also its much less popular equivalent, "PINESS", from a line in Sonic's Christmas Blast where Robotnik says "Hap-PINESS is always so much more enjoyable..." Also "PIENDISH" and "PEINOUS" from "fiendish" and "heinous" respectively.
    • Another very popular phrase comes from the intro to the Zelda CD-i game Link Faces of Evil where Link says "How about a kiss, for luck?"
    • This is also part of the "THIS VIDEO WILL BE FLAGGED" fad, which involves editing a clip to make it sound like a character is doing or saying something dirty.
    • Then there is the "I made this while doing X" meme, where a character's dialogue is used to form a song title followed by that song being played. The meme-maker was through_the_fire_and_flames.wmv.
  • Deconstructed rather brilliantly in this clip from Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe concentrating on editing.
  • A couple of enterprising (no pun intended!) fans edited the novelization of the Star Trek reboot into this (audio is EXTREMELY NSFW).
  • The Irate Gamer is known to do this. In his review of Super Mario Bros. 2, he slows down the footage.
    • As a joke in his review of Tengen's Tetris, he edits Van Halen's "Panama" into the game as a music option.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd also does this, since he can't show us his entire run of the game without causing the video to go on forever. One of the most arrant examples of this is in his Castlevania 64 review. He says that the music sucks because there is no music and proves it by showing one of the stages where there isn't music. This becomes quite odd and contributes to the research failures, since he later on shows where he got stuck at...and you can clearly hear background music.
    • He also claims that Zeldas Adventure doesn't have any music; when the game actually does and only shows parts of the game that don't have music. However; this could likely be a result of him not getting far enough into the game since he also states that the game will not save for him.
  • Todd in the Shadows did this in his review of Bedrock.

Todd: Hey, Gudda Gudda, how would you describe (Lloyd)?
Gudda Gudda: No Stevie Wonder.
Todd: Right on!

  • The "Greatest Freakout Ever" videos are most likely a good example of cherry-picking and "Worst-side filming", since the only videos of Steven appear to be of him throwing a tantrum and his parents yelling at him.
  • These are one of the main tools to make Ghost rage: Just splice together something he would never say about one of his many Berserk Buttons, play your splice when he takes your call, and hear the cans fly.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Drawn Together, the Jew Producer is known to edit the show to make it even more outrageous, a practice to which Foxxy and Toot object. At one point, the practice is parodied when Foxxy's Confession Cam segment is interrupted with rapid cuts after every single word to make it appear she says "My... taint... is... made... of... bacon!", just before she actually says that.
  • Mocked, like everything else in this archive, by The Simpsons on the season six episode "Homer Bad Man" [the episode in which Homer is accused of molesting a college-aged babysitter after peeling a rare gummi candy off the seat of her pants] during the "Rock Bottom" interview set up to clear his innocence (even better with the clock in the background that noticeably changes back and forth with each cut):

Homer (actual dialogue): Ehh, someone had to take the babysitter home. Then I noticed she was sitting on the gummi Venus, so I grabbed it off her. Oh, just thinking about that sweet, sweet candy...(moans lustfully) I just wish I had another one right now. But the most important thing is--"
Homer (edited dialogue): Ehh, someone had to take the babysitter home. Then I noticed she was sitting on / her / sweet can / ...so I grabbed / her / sweet can / (moans) / just thinking about / her / can / I just wish I had / her / sweet / sweet / s-s-sweet can...

    • The editing fun didn't stop there, however:

Godfrey Jones: So, Mr. Simpson, you admit you grabbed her can. What do you have to say in your defense? (shot of Homer during his interview, with obvious "paused VCR" artifacts) Mr. Simpson, your silence will only incriminate you further. (the shot of Homer zooms in to suggest his apparent advancement on Jones) No, Mr. Simpson, don't take your anger out on me. Get back! Get back! Mist--Mr. Simpson--nooo!"
Voiceover: Dramatizationmay not have happened.

      • It should be noted that during the "interview", Homer is shown to be sitting down in a room indoors. The interviewer in the edits, however, is clearly standing in a parking lot outdoors.
        • Yet more! Note the time on the analogue clock behind Homer. In the edited section it keeps flicking between different times despite the fact that the original quote took less than 30seconds. Mark that bit down to Rule of Funny.
    • A similar gag is used in an episode of British sketch comedy Not The Nine O'clock News, featuring the tape of a suspect "confessing" his crime to an Old-Fashioned Copper — the camera makes obvious cuts every few words, the clock on the back wall jumps around, and hideous bruises appear and disappear from his face.
  • 80-90% of the jokes in many episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast come from the clumsy, often surreal manipulation of interview footage.
  • The Fairly OddParents:

(Vicky plays back tape)
Tape: (Timmy's voice) Hi, I'm Timmy, and I--(playing Francis' voice)cheated on my math test.
Timmy: I never cheated on my math test!
(Vicky plays another tape)
Tape: (playing Timmy's voice) Hi, I'm Timmy, and I--cheated on my math test!

  • One episode of the new-ish, anime-esque Fantastic Four played this one for drama. Johnny manages to hack off some aliens somehow, so they rig up a kangaroo court and challenge Sue, Reed, and Ben to prove to them that they shouldn't execute his irreverent ass right on the spot. Every time they try to say something in his defense, the aliens replay a moment from the past where they said the exact opposite thing in the heat of the moment after Johnny did something annoying. Attempts to call the aliens out on this Trope were met with a response not dissimilar to "Well, we're the ones with the video playback, jackass, so what are you gonna do now?" It took a natural disaster during which Johnny could perform an altruistic act at great risk to himself to get him off the hook.
  • A guilt trip by her mother leads to Daria turning what was intended as an unflattering video expose of Quinn for a class project into a more positive piece.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Lucius tries to claim he didn't say something, Jimmy pulls a television screen out of nowhere.

Lucius: "Whatever's on your side, you can keep (Jimmy's voice) island buddy".

  • Played with on Family Guy where Tom Tucker "interviews" Dustin Hoffman. The interview is Tom's shots, then a reply using a scene from a Dustin Hoffman film. It's not even the same film for the entire interview.
  • American Dad!: Hayley wants to break up a couple so she can date the guy. She and Steve call the chick in question, ask random questions, then edit them to make it appear the chick has called her BF by accident, and said a bunch of non-G Fish stuff.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The BBC got into trouble when it showed a roomful of journalists at a press launch a trailer which appeared to show the Queen storming out of a portrait sitting. Actually, she'd been walking in. This resulted in a high-level resignation.
  • This is a staple of almost every aspect of modern politics. Political campaigns commit this in just about every attack ad and the infamous (in the US) 'October Surprises' that just about every major politician pulls on their opponents always include some variation of this. Further, it is also done by news outlets of all stripes. TV broadcast, cable, radio, newspaper, website...no news source is immune to this trope. It is more wide spread than The Virus and claims about one side being worse than the other are the stuff of fools and trolls. Best to leave those on political blogs or forums.
  • An example made on paper — The Ems dispatch, work of our favorite Magnificent Bastard from Prussia, Otto von Bismarck. He made it seem like the Prussian king (and later, German emperor) had abruptly rejected the French ambassador, which hadn't been the case...but Just As Planned, the French fell for the provocation and declared the Franco-Prussian War. Which also meant that they were blamed for starting it...which is never a good thing, as we know.
  • Discussed in this article by The Guardian. Among the points the author, himself a former reality show participant turned therapist, notes is that few people consider the possible psychological effects to someone who's been publicly demonized in this fashion by such techniques after they leave the show.
  • Channel 4 once made a documentary called Fat Girls and Feeders with real feeders and feedees brought in to tell their stories. According to the feeders and feedees who took part in the documentary, Channel 4 edited the footage to make it look like the feedees were sad and the feeders were abusive.
  • For a YouTube summary from a former journalist of how this is done in real life, see: TV tricks of the trade by potholer54, AKA Peter Hadfield.
    • Someone had mentioned in the Troper Tales section that some sociology students did an experiment to show exactly how people twist perception by only showing part of the story. They mentioned that they had got a bunch of students to participate in the experiment and filmed it; then showed an edited version and a non-edited version. The edited version made the engineering students look like complete idiots, whereas the non-edited version showed them setting up scenes, planting people into crowds who knew answers and "Randomly" selecting them, as well as the people who were visibly fatigued.
    • Another person mentioned on the Troper Tales page that the media interviewed their mother who was waiting in line at a gas station. They at one point asked what she was doing there and she responded, "We need gas!". The part that made it on the news was the "We need gas!" bit...and completely taken out of context.
  • This also leads to a Vocal Minority. The media will always hunt for the most unstable people, and sometimes cut parts out of interviews to make them look more crazy.
  • In Chile there was a lot of controversy regarding a condominium where maids and workers were forbidden from entering on foot (so they had to use a special van). Inés Pérez, a woman who lived in the condominium, was interviewed in Chilevisión about the whole issue. She said that this wasn't a case of discrimination, since it was a free service for the workers, and the people living there were paying it.

Inés Pérez (rough translation): Can you imagine all those maids walking outside, all those workers walking on the street, and your kids there riding bikes? Can you imagine all those maids walking on the street in winter (...)? (...) I live almost at the end. I go running around the condominium, and it's half an hour from my house to the lodge. I mean, can you imagine my maid walking to my house everyday, in winter under the rain? I mean, impossible!

  1. Shazbot is in-universe slang for "shit"