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

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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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KathleenB
KathleenB
7 years ago

Agh, darken, dammit!

KathleenB
KathleenB
7 years ago

And he’s already losing points…

400Boyz
400Boyz
7 years ago

“400Boyz: You asked if I’d written a letter or staged a protest. I wrote a letter. I’m not an activist.

So you care, but not enough to do anything. The actual work you leave to others.”

Yeah, I’m sure everybody commenting here does the dirty work to earn the right to post here. Yeah. I guess futrelle, who wrote a whole post about it, gets out there to fight for male victims.

Are you sure you want to open a can of worms by making special considerations because of male strength?

“So to say, “Oh, we can’t make considerations of “male” strength into account is to be a disingenuous sack of shit (there, now I’ve called you name)”

OK you dishonest dirt bag.

So consideration of male strength needs to be taken into account before you even stand up for a man because, you know, men are tough enough to endure unwanted abuse like in the video. That’s basically what you’re arguing for, OK. And I guess if the guy is not hitting hard enough to hurt her, then by your logic, nobody should intervene.

According to that same logic, we should also consider differences in strengh between men and women when it comes to jobs where physical strength is necessary.

Yay for social justice.

400Boyz
400Boyz
7 years ago

Yeah, I was trolled back into replying. Bye you hypocritical, argument distorting, truth denying, sophistic shitheads. Thanks for doing your part in keeping double standards alive.

titianblue
titianblue
7 years ago

So consideration of male strength needs to be taken into account before you even stand up for a man because, you know, men are tough enough to endure unwanted abuse like in the video.

Stop trying to twist words into a gotcha and stick the flounce, moron.

If a gnat is teasing horse, I’m probably going to assume the horse could flatten the gnat if it had had enough.

If a horse is teasing another horse, I’m probably not going to intervene for my own safety because either of them could flatten me.

If a kitten is teasing another kitten, I will step in to prevent harm.

With people, regardless of gender, it gets a little more complicated to assess. Is that a horse, a gnat or a kitten?

titianblue
titianblue
7 years ago

Re-reads own comment. wasn’t meaning to minimise abuse by calling it “teasing”. Sorry for the insensitivity.

titianblue
titianblue
7 years ago

Bye, 400boyz. Enjoy your letter writing and hope your letters make more sense than your comments.

duckbunny
7 years ago

Four flounces, but he broke the streak.

KathleenB
KathleenB
7 years ago

Dude, you’re moving into negative points territory here. If you say you’re gonna leave, just fucking leave.

KathleenB
KathleenB
7 years ago

And if you can’t deal with mocking disagreement, might I suggest you fuck off to a blog more sympathetic to your views? It’s not like there’s a lack of choices.

piratejennie
7 years ago

I’m pretty sure that was the final flounce.

Unless we troll him into coming back, which is a concept so silly it actually made me chuckle.

That and posting videos and articles which had already been thoroughly discussed, proving he hadn’t bothered to read the thread before wading in with his predictable twaddle.

pecunium
7 years ago

400Boyz: Small guy hits big guy and gets fucked up in return, big guy won’t end up in court.

Nope. Friend of mine (Marc MacYoung) makes his living as (among other things) an expert witness in self-defense cases. Almost all jurisdictions have requirements for proportional response (even Florida, famous for Zimmerman’s legalised murder of Trayvon Martin, has it). If someone hits you, and you proceed to beat the snot out of him, the odds are both of you get arrested. One for starting the fight (battery), you for beating on him after the need to defend yourself had passed (battery/aggravated assault).

In most cases the subsequent batterer gets the more serious charge; because having subdued the person who was attacking you, the follow on beating is seen as more gratuitous; since at that point the (new) victim is almost certainly unable to put up a defense.

OK you dishonest dirt bag.

So consideration of male strength needs to be taken into account before you even stand up for a man because, you know, men are tough enough to endure unwanted abuse like in the video. That’s basically what you’re arguing for, OK. And I guess if the guy is not hitting hard enough to hurt her, then by your logic, nobody should intervene.

Nope. Read what has been said. What I said (it’s right there, you can check) is that, absent a complaint by Jay-Z I’m not going to second guess him. That had he filed a complaint, and been told to pound sand, or to, “patch things up” I’d be upset.

But you don’t care about that; and are willing to lie (directly this time) about my arguments, while presenting no counter-argument of your own; as you discard the weak arguments you didn’t make before: what with your passive aggressive, “you don’t want to go there”. I’m more than willing to go there; because I’ve been there, and hashed it all out.

But you pull false-equivalence nonsense like this: According to that same logic, we should also consider differences in strengh between men and women when it comes to jobs where physical strength is necessary.

Which is pretty good, it’s using a non-sequitur to have a strawman move a goalpost.

What you probably mean (because it’s what your ilk usually mean) is that jobs like soldiering, and firefighting, etc. should be closed off to women because men are, as a rule, bulkier.

What we argue is that if a person meets the standards for the job, they ought to have an equal chance to do the work. Which isn’t at odds with the basic premise of your argument.

But honesty isn’t in you, or you’d not have changed the topic (assessing threat/evaluating actual harm/listening to the subject when they say they’ve been abused, or not) without getting around to making a concrete point. Nope, you leave an open ended accusation of double standard, hoping to get a chance to play gotcha.

But hey, you left, so it’s all good.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Wow, Woody has shown an actual emotion! I’m impressed! Keep that anger up Woody, and use it to take a good long look at your beloved Elam.

Jo Cool
Jo Cool
7 years ago

@400boyz U mad bro? (Sorry, it had to be said)

KathleenB
KathleenB
7 years ago

IIRC, weren’t there physically present witnesses to Lawson being assaulted? Witnesses not affiliated with or related to either party? Because the evidence I’ve seen of the Solange/Jay-Z fight/assault is some really blurry, illegally released security camera footage, and everyone who witnessed it was family or employees. If Jay-Z didn’t want to talk to the police or pursue criminal action, I don’t see any way cops or prosecutors could have done anything.

Note that I’m not saying Solange was right or that she shouldn’t face consequences for her actions, I just don’t know how legal consequences could be brought against her.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

-4/10 — was boring in the first place, failed to stick the flounce, repeatedly, would not watch again.

Pecunium — aw, u mad bro? Not like we don’t both know that if we got into a physical fight, despite being pretty much the same size, my only chance would be to duck and run. Not like training and skill and such have any role in anything, or anything like that!

Ok, less snark. No, hitting people isn’t okay, yes, my involvement is going to depend on how dangerous the situation looks for those involved and for myself (I’m not exactly a large person, that bit about ducking and running wasn’t snark) So yes, man has a woman by the throat? This is why cell phones have 911 on speed dial (or at least mine does), woman slaps a man? *shakes head! glares, proceeds from there*

I think those are the examples from the vid, but whatever, point stands that wtf I do depends on the risk to myself, and the people involved, I’ve certainly given women the death glare for less than a slap. Man risking serious injury to a woman? Sorry but not ending up injured myself is gonna trump getting directly involved, I haz cell.

KathleenB — long time no see, how’s life and stuff and whatnot?

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

I think they were out to dinner, so yeah, probably LOTS of random witnesses.

pecunium
7 years ago

re witnesses: Unless it was a felony assault, witnesses don’t usually matter (Calif. is the only state I am really well acquainted with this, because when I was a security guard knowing this was part of the requirements).

If the cop didn’t see it (for a misdemeanor) she can’t make an arrest on her own recognizance. So someone else has to effect the arrest and turn them over to the cops. If no one is willing to do that, then no arrest can be made.

That’s how shoplifting arrests work. Store guard arrests you, immediately calls the cops. Swears out an afffadavit as to why they made the citizens arrest and the cop escorts you to jail.

The only other way is if the victim goes to the cops and swears out a complaint.

So, since there were no cops, and no one made a citizens arrest, it’s all up to Jay-Z. No one can talk about the stigma of making such a complaint, but I’d wager that’s as much an issue of fame as it is of the toxic masculinity in society.

By which I mean that, were Jay-Z not famous, it would a lot easier for him to make such a complaint, but the “woman beat on a man” thing added to the aspect of him being famous makes it pretty much a non-starter.

That would be a line of argument where 400Boyz might be able to make a case; but that would require being able to structure an argument, at which his skills seem to be somewhat lacking.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Wait, so if you witness something illegal, call the cops but otherwise stay out of it, unless it’s a felony you might as well have just kept walking? Even if it’s a case of “yes officer, that guy right there”?

So, like, I could walk around with a drink in public and as long as I finished it before cops arrived I’d be fine? (Not that there’s anything up here I’d bloody drink that isn’t a mixed drink in the first place, but hey, it’s a less loaded example)

pecunium
7 years ago

More or less.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Argenti – reminds me of the time the cops were called because a driver nearly killed a passenger alighting from a tram. Tramload of witnesses, got the bastard’s license … and the cops’ reaction was that they couldn’t do anything about it because they didn’t witness it. No idea whether that was the law or just lazy shits who didn’t care.

pecunium
7 years ago

It’s generally the law. Misdemeanors are mild breaches of the law. If anyone could say, “He crossed against the light” and then the fellow gets a ticket… think of the problems. It would make the false accusation a lot easier to use as a weapon.

If the person contests it, then all that has to happen is for the accuser to not show up… case dismissed. But the time it takes (court, cop, judge, accused) is huge.

And yes, I used an infraction, not a misdemeanor, but the same rules would apply. It would be chaos.

So, (again, generally speaking) the requirement is, “A misdemeanor, committed in my presence.” and “Good reason to believe” for a felony. Because felonies are grave breaches of the peace.

pecunium
7 years ago

For a misdemeanor (better than the infraction) lets say someone accused someone else of pissing in public.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Not sure how that goes with Oz law. This driver broke the law by speeding past a stationary tram, and nearly hit someone already stepping out of it. It’s a bit eyebrow-raising that the police’s attitude was essentially to wait until that scum had actually killed someone (which has happened with drivers doing that; I saw another occasion where a woman was hit). Even if they’d issued a traffic infringement notice, slapped a fine on them, that would have been something, but just shrugging it off … fuck them.

Mind you the same mob (Victoria Police) shrug off actual assaults with witnesses, so I don’t suppose I should be surprised.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Ok, but then somehow it ceases being he said she said if you do step in with a citizens arrest? Doesn’t seem like that’d make much difference really.

Logic, being killed by an impromptu song about ebay from my BF! Wrong thread for this, but infinitely more fun than Und’s ever had!

emilygoddess
7 years ago

assault is assault regardless.

Um, no. What do you think those degrees of assault refer to?

Look, I’m not saying what Solange did was OK. But you can’t pretend there isn’t a difference between how badly she hurt Jay-Z and how badly Chris Brown hit Rihanna.

Is there a double standard? Yes. We’re aware of this. If you’d bothered to read any of the comments, you’d see we’ve already explained our objections to the video, and I challenge you to find one person saying they object because violence against men is being discussed.

Isabelle
Isabelle
7 years ago

“Can we not use “retard” around here?
My sincere apology about that one. 🙁 …

mildlymagnificent
7 years ago

But you can’t pretend there isn’t a difference between how badly she hurt Jay-Z and how badly Chris Brown hit Rihanna.

Yeah. That’s where the argument that men and women are more or less equally victims of IPV turns into a version of “never mind the quality, feel the width“.

pecunium
7 years ago

Not sure how that goes with Oz law. This driver broke the law by speeding past a stationary tram, and nearly hit someone already stepping out of it. It’s a bit eyebrow-raising that the police’s attitude was essentially to wait until that scum had actually killed someone (which has happened with drivers doing that; I saw another occasion where a woman was hit). Even if they’d issued a traffic infringement notice, slapped a fine on them, that would have been something, but just shrugging it off … fuck them.

That sounds like an infraction. As such I’d expect there is nothing which can be done unless the police are willing to raise the bar to a felony. In theory again in Calif., they could argue it was Felony Reckless driving, but that’s a high bar, and would probably be thrown out of court.

Ok, but then somehow it ceases being he said she said if you do step in with a citizens arrest? Doesn’t seem like that’d make much difference really.

In Calif. the act of a citizen arrest means the police have to get involved, so long as the arresting party will swear out the affadavit. Since not swearing it out = false arrest (and a short trip to a summary judgement in a civil suit) it’s folly to not.

So yeah, there is a big difference.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Ah, so the citizen’s arrest basically means you’re sure enough to have to swear to it.

pecunium
7 years ago

Rules for citizens arrest (in Calif.) are:

1: Any adult citizen can make one.
2: It must be a misdemeanor committed in your presence, or a felony you have good reason to believe the person committed.
3: You must inform them they are being arrested, by you, as a private citizen
3a You must, as soon as possible, inform the police you have made an arrest.
4: You may use such force as is required to keep them in custody until the police arrive.
4a: You may deputise other citizens to assist in such detention.
5: You may search them for weapons which might pose a danger to yourself, or others. (i.e. a Terry Search
6: When the police arrive, you surrender the person to them, swear out the affadavit and they process it.

Not only did I have to learn all this when I was a security guard, we had to go over it all as part of my annual Riot/Civil Disturbance training, since Nat. Guard soldiers have no more power to arrest than any other citizen: Federal Soldiers have less)

The thing about it (though Nat. Guard soldiers gets some “good faith” protections in practice) is if you fuck up any one of those, you can be sued. So you’d better have your ducks in a row.

It’s also possible that you do it all perfectly, no grounds for a lawsuit, and the cops still decline to actually book them/process a police arrest. But the grounds they use to reject it will (usually) keep you from paying a huge lawsuit.

I quite a security gig once, because my supervisor abused the conditional authority he had to abuse someone he was effecting a questionable citizens arrest of. Took the, “such force as required” idea as an excuse to beat someone he was pissed at. Since the arrest was otherwise legal (if morally questionable) he got away with it.

The company, however, went belly up shortly after that.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Ah, so the “sure enough to risk charges for illegal detention” part. Gotcha.

pecunium
7 years ago

False arrest, actually.

AnotherVoice
AnotherVoice
7 years ago

Has anyone considered the possibility that these editing tricks might just be the scenarios played out multiple times with different crowds in the park and the responses shown were the most received ones.

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

the responses shown were the most received ones.

Wut? Not sure if I want this rewritten in English or not.

Way to miss the point, video was portrayed by the makers as being an accurate representation of what happened. Video is clearly edited, and may involve actors. Therefore video is dishonest in comparison to its alleged (by the makers) objectivity.

How hard is this to understand?

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
7 years ago

If the responses they wanted were happened multiple times, why didn’t the makers just play out the best shot of that scenario from start to finish, with no obvious mix-and-match editing?

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
7 years ago

Proofreading fail. Remove that “were” at the beginning of the sentence.

katz
7 years ago

If the scenario was run multiple times, that just calls the editing into question even more: How would we know that those were the most received responses? Maybe they ran the scenario a bunch of times because they were trying to get a particular response.

AnotherVoice
AnotherVoice
7 years ago

“If the scenario was run multiple times, that just calls the editing into question even more: How would we know that those were the most received responses? Maybe they ran the scenario a bunch of times because they were trying to get a particular response.”-Katz

Also a possibility
it just shouldn’t be assumed that because there is editing that the video is a fraud

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

Also a possibility
it just shouldn’t be assumed that because there is editing that the video is a fraud

But, we also can’t say that it isn’t a fraud. That’s kinda the able problem here.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

“Whole,” not “able.”

Autocorrect, I don’t even understand how you can turn any mispelling of “whole” into “able.”

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
7 years ago

I think this thread generates typos.

kittehserf MOD
kittehserf MOD
7 years ago

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

wewereemergencies
wewereemergencies
7 years ago

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?

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

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

kittehserf MOD
kittehserf MOD
7 years ago

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

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
7 years ago

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

kittehserf MOD
kittehserf MOD
7 years ago
pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

I am lasereyes cat, destroyer of worlds. 🙂

pallygirl
pallygirl
7 years ago

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