Friday, July 13, 2007

It's only because it's her

So there's a documentary about the Queen and to publicise it the BBC showed a bit of footage to a load of journalists. In the clip Her Maj is turning up for a photoshoot with queen snapper Annie Leibovitz. When AL suggests that ER might look better without her crown the Queen takes it badly and walks out. Apparently.

Except that's not what happened. It's just the way it looked in the edit. But because that's the way it was presented all the papers ran with the story when in actual fact the footage that appeared to show ER leaving was actually footage of her arriving. So now the BBC are on the back foot, apologies are flying around and resignations are being called for.

What strikes me as odd about this is that these kind of editing techniques are clearly used all the time in telly-land. It's only because it's embarrassed the Queen that they've had to apologise. I bet she didn't have to sign the usual release form waiving all her rights before they started filming. (She doesn't wave or waive like anyone else, that one.)

If you watch a Wife Swap/Holiday Swap/Shipwrecked/whatever, I'm sure you'll see the same kind of editing all the time. Rows are ramped up and conversations manipulated in edit suites every day.

When there's only one camera crew in a room they have to use shots out of sync because they can't film what one person says and the other person's reaction at the same time. So at the end of a long day when they catch someone looking bored and yawning, they'll take that and cheerfully splice it into a conversation from earlier in the day to make it look like the two people weren't getting on. You see reality TV participants complaining about it after the event all the time... but nobody asks anyone to resign over it. We all just think they're complaining about nothing, that they should have known what they were getting into and that it doesn't really matter because it's only telly.

A friend once told me about the contract they were asked to sign for a reality TV show. One of the clauses was that the company had the right to misrepresent the participant. Reality. Misrepresent.

In a joint statement from the BBC and RDF they said, "This assembly was never intended to be seen by the public or the press," which does make you wonder who it was meant to be seen by. Were they making it for their own amusement? For a bit of a laugh? What seems most likely to me is that the piece was put together by someone who just went about their job the way they normally do... using the footage available to them to make the most entertaining story they could. It's just that nobody stopped to think, that maybe, just maybe, they shouldn't do that to the Queen.

I bet it won't stop them doing it to anyone else though.

Here's the Queen storming out of a photoshoot with me some time last year:

Queen 1, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.


Rhys said...

My first thoughts about this were "brilliant". I consider myself a royalist, and I would love the fact that the queen, under all the pomp and ceremony around her, is just a normal human being who has a limit.

But, as you said, it IS the Queen, and she does a lot for this country worldwide, maybe portraying her in a undignified form - especially when what apparently happened may not have happened - wasn't in everybody's best interest.

Dave Gorman said...

Maybe I haven't expressed myself as well as I should. I'm not really a royalist and don't really think the Queen deserves any special treatment... I think they shouldn't do this to anyone but I know that they do it all the time.

I think it's ridiculous that it's only being seen as 'wrong' because it's The Queen, when the truth is, misrepresenting people is just wrong.

But nobody cares if they make a participant in Wife Swap appear argumentative or worse.

rivergirlie said...

what did you ask her to remove?

(i did the book for a reality tv show a few years ago, and then the book for the celebrity version - it's not just the queen that gets special treatment, y'know! there was plenty of foot-stamping, curl-shaking and agent calling going on with that lot)

David Mooney said...

To be honest, I find it a little odd we've got to this situation.

I'm currently at university, studying Journalism and the one thing the lecturers keep saying is "keep interview notes", "don't quote out of context", "make sure you represent someone fairly".

I imagine all Journalism courses are like this, so where does it go wrong and it's suddenly OK in the media for this to happen?

Dave Gorman said...

Because I doubt many people making, say, Wife Swap, come from a journalistic background. They come from an entertainment background and they make an entertaining confection out of the ingredients available to them.

James Bray said...

May I inquire as to why my comment was removed? I don't seem to remember writing anything that could be seen as inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

I am an editor, and whilst I believe I would always exercise caution when 'constructing' a story, I confess that I would be even more careful if the contributor could legally have my head cut off. Dave

Dave Gorman said...

@James Bray: I haven't removed any comments. Maybe you forgot to hit the 'publish your comment' button.

James Bray said...

It is most strange, it was there, then it wasn't, then it popped back up, and I assumed that you allowed it or some such and now it is gone again! It may have something to do with me changing my nickname on my Blogger account.

Either way, it was a scathing and witty piece of prose regarding Cliff Richard and a similarly absurd interview he once had regarding Elvis.

Act amused and informed, add a little bit of disdain for Cliff Richard, and it will save me writing it out again.

Patrick said...

@james bray: your comment was on a different post, that's why you can't see it here.

James Bray said...

Let us never speak of it again.

BadAlbert said...

Very regal when she storms isn't she? Gawd bless ER. N'shit..