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Is The Mankind Initiative’s #ViolenceIsViolence video a fraud?

The We Hunted the Mammoth Pledge Drive continues! If you haven’t already, please consider sending some bucks my way. (And don’t worry that the PayPal page says Man Boobz.) Thanks! And thanks again to all who’ve already donated.

The ManKind Initiative, a UK organization devoted to fighting domestic violence against men, recently put out a video that’s been getting a lot of attention in the media and online, racking up more than six million views on YouTube in a little over a week.

The brief video, titled #ViolenceIsViolence, purports to depict the radically different reactions of bystanders to staged incidents of domestic violence between a couple in a London plaza. When the man was the aggressor, shoving the woman and grabbing her face, bystanders intervened and threatened to call the police. When the woman was the aggressor, the video shows bystanders laughing, and no one does a thing.

The video has been praised by assorted Men’s Rights Activists, naturally enough, but it has also gotten uncritical attention in some prominent media outlets as well, from Marie Claire to the Huffington Post.

There’s just one problem: The video may be a fraud, using deceptive editing to distort incidents that may well have played out quite differently in real life.

A shot-by-shot analysis of the video from beginning to end reveals that the first “incident” depicted is actually a composite of footage shot of at least two separate incidents, filmed on at least three different times of day and edited together into one narrative.

A careful viewing of the video also reveals that many of the supposed “reaction shots” in the video are not “reaction shots” at all, but shots taken in the same plaza at different times and edited in as if they are happening at the same time as the staged “incidents” depicted.

Moreover, none of the people depicted as laughing at the second incident are shown in the same frame as the fighting couple. There is no evidence that any of them were actually laughing at the woman attacking the man.

The editing tricks used in the video were brought to my attention by a reader who sent me a link to a blog entry by Miguel Lorente Acosta, a Professor of Legal Medicine at the University of Granada in Spain, and a Government Delegate for Gender Violence in Spain’s Ministry of Equality. He goes through the video shot by shot, showing each trick for what it is.

The post in Spanish, and his argument is a little hard to follow through the filter of Google Translate, so I will offer my own analysis of the video below, drawing heavily on his post. (His post is still worth reading, as he covers several examples of deceptive editing I’ve left out.)

I urge you to watch the video above through once, then follow me through the following analysis.

The first “incident” is made up of footage taken at three distinct times, if not more. The proof is in the bench.

In the opening shot of the video, we see an overview of the plaza. We see two people sitting on a bench, a man in black to the left and a woman in white to the right, with a trash can to the right of them. (All of these lefts and rights are relative to us, the viewers.) The trash can has an empty green bag hanging off of it.

vv1bench

As the first incident begins, we see the same bench, only now we see two women sitting where the man was previously sitting. The trash can now has a full bag of trash sitting next to it.

vv2bench

In this shot, showing bystanders intervening in what is portrayed as the same fight, and supposedly depicting a moment in time only about 30 seconds after the previous shot, we see that the two women on the bench have been replaced by two men, one in a suit and the other in a red hoodie. The full trash bag has been removed, and the trash can again has an empty trash bag hanging off of it.

vv5benchtrash

Clearly this portion of the video does not depict a single incident.

What about the reaction shots? The easiest way to tell that the reaction shots in the video did not chronologically follow the shots that they come after in the video is by looking at the shadows. Some of the video was shot when the sky was cloudy and shadows were indistinct. Other shots were taken in direct sunlight. In the video, shots in cloudy weather are followed immediately by shots in roughly the same location where we see bright sunlight and clear shadows.

Here’s one shot, 9 seconds in. Notice the lack of clear shadows; the shadow of the sitting woman is little more than a vague smudge.

vvmuted

Here’s another shot from less than a second later in the same video – the timestamp is still at 9 seconds in. Now the plaza is in direct sunlight and the shadows are sharp and distinct.

vvbright

If you watch the video carefully, you can see these sorts of discontinuities throughout. It seems highly unlikely that the various reaction shots actually depict reactions to what they appear to be reactions to. Which wouldn’t matter if this were a feature film; that’s standard practice. But this purports to be a depiction of real incidents caught on hidden camera and presented as they happened in real time.

The issue of non-reaction reaction shots is especially important when it comes to the second incident. In the first incident, we see a number of women, and one man, intervening to stop the violence. There is no question that’s what’s going on, because we see them in the same frame as the couple.

In the second incident, none of the supposed laughing onlookers ever appear in the same frame as the fighting couple. We have no proof that their laughter is in fact a reaction to the woman attacking the man. And given the dishonest way that the video is edited overall, I have little faith that they are real reaction shots.

The people who are in frame with the fighting couple are either trying resolutely to ignore the incident – as many of the onlookers also did in the first incident – or are clearly troubled by it.

I noticed one blonde woman who looked at first glance like she might have been laughing, but after pausing the video it became clear that she was actually alarmed and trying to move out of the way.

vvnervousblonde

There is one other thing to note about the two incidents. In the first case, the onlookers didn’t intervene until after the man escalated his aggression by grabbing the woman by her face. In the second video, the screen fades to black shortly after the woman escalates her aggression to a similar level. We don’t know what, if anything, happened after that.

Is it possible that the first part of the video, despite being a composite of several incidents, depicts more or less accurately what happened each time the video makers tried this experiment? Yes. Is it possible that onlookers did indeed laugh as the woman attacked the man? Yes.

But there is only one way for The ManKind Initiative to come clean and clear up any suspicion: they need to post the unedited, time-stamped footage of each of the incidents they filmed from each of their three cameras so we can see how each incident really played out in real time and which, if any, of the alleged reactions were actual reactions.

In addition to the editing tricks mentioned above, we don’t know if the video makers edited out portions of the staged attacks that might have influenced how the bystanders reacted.

The video makers should also post the footage of the incidents that they did not use for the advert, so we can see if reactions to the violence were consistently different when the genders of attackers and victims were switched. Two incidents make up a rather small sample – even if one of these incidents is actually two incidents disguised as one.

Domestic violence against men is a real and serious problem. But you can’t fight it effectively with smoke and mirrors.

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Posted on May 30, 2014, in domestic violence, MRA, shit that never happened and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 933 Comments.

  1. I think this thread generates typos.

  2. kittehserf MOD

    sparky, there is nothing so bizarre that autocorrect won’t do it.

  3. wewereemergencies

    But why is the editing necessary if not fraudulent purposes AnotherVoice? What do the editors gain from editing vs. full-length and why would they not tell us why the editing was done? The point is that the video makers have edited the video in deceptive ways, and have not made any sort of statement as to why.

    Why are you so uncritical of media AnotherVoice?

  4. This thread creates a typo every time a Nice Guy(tm) is forced to leave feminism because of me.

  5. kittehserf MOD

    Uh-oh, the power has gone to pallygirl’s head! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

  6. Wow, that’s at least two so far, and the night/day is young. Well done, pallygirl!

  7. I am lasereyes cat, destroyer of worlds. :)

  8. I wish I was as awesome as that picture. I would need really big litterboxes, though.

  9. kittehserf MOD

    Easy, you could use the empty buildings and fill them with rubble.

    My favourite laser death cat is this one (any excuse to post this again). I didn’t know until now that it’s you! I guess the dudes are all the NiceFeministGuys(TM) trying to shoot you with No Naughty Words weapons.

  10. Yep, although I feel guilty about my flamethrower abilities as I feel they’re contributing to global warming.

    Mr studmuffin cat watched that entire clip, apart from a couple of seconds when I looked at him watching, and then he looked away. But he started watching it again. Must Be Careful About What To Disclose To The Furrinati Of The Household.

    I have cunningly convinced them I am under the paw. I have two photos of me being actually under the paw. This is a ploy to disguise my real being.

  11. kittehserf MOD

    But, but, if you are Laser Death Cat, would they not approve of your cunning duplicitous disguise as a human?

    Of course Mr studmuffin might be looking at the vid as a how-to. That could be alarming.

  12. Shortly after I read about Pallygirl’s laser death catness, I turned the light back on and saw that Darrow was lying on the floor beneath my feet staring up at me. He never hangs out there.

    I think they know. They know. Oh dear god.

  13. He’s the one that has me most under the paw (yes, this is one where an objective scale is possible from most under the paw to least under the paw). He already walks in front of my keyboard and then sits there so I can’t type. Or wants to sit on my lap at the computer so I can’t type. He has a meow that sends daggers directly into my heart so I immediately stop whatever I am doing with him. He also gentle bites me when he’s annoyed. The last thing I need is for him to get more ideas and capability. /cries

  14. kittehserf MOD

    The Furrinati are revealing their power

    THE END IS NIGH

    oh look shiny!

  15. Cats love nothing more than walking across the keyboard. Mine both do it. Darrow also loves rubbing against the remote control when I’m trying to look at the guide.

  16. cassandrakitty

    My cat prefers putting her front paws on the keyboard tray next to my mousepad and nudging my hand until I pet her.

  17. I have a mechanical keyboard, so just the weight of the tail of one of my cats is enough to cause random shit to occur. Actually, that will be my excuse every time I do a mistake in a comment. Why did it take me so long to click to this?

  18. kittehserf MOD

    My computer desk only has room for the laptop and keyboard, and the kitties show no interest in jumping up here. Why, why am I so neglected?

  19. I can vacuum up some of the cat fur inside my keyboard, package it into a nicely decorated bag, and post it over to you so you can sprinkle it over your keyboard. I don’t want you to feel you’re missing out!

  20. kittehserf MOD

    Speaking of LOLing loudly!

    Fear not, I have plenty of cat fur in my keyboard, under my computer desk, in everything. It’s just that the beasties don’t get up and stamp around on the keyboard. Katie used to – I have an email from her somewhere.

  21. Who cares if the thing is edited… The point still stands that people are much less likely to do anything when a man is being attacked by his girlfriend but will run to the defense of a female being attacked by a man. Sure they use some deceptive things to get the point across, but the point stands that NOT A SINGLE PERSON does anything in one instance, but at least 4 others say or do something in another instance where only genders are reversed. By calling this entire video into question you miss the entire point. Its not to defend men or villainize women, its to raise awareness.

  22. Read the whole thread necro troll. We’ve been over this.

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