Reality television stars speak out against extreme editing, also known as Frankenbiting
This perilous practice elevates reality television to the level of fiction.
While many viewers take reality television with a grain of salt, few are aware of how heavily edited some episodes are, according to industry insiders. Now, production staff and stars are speaking out about the pernicious effects of “Frankenbiting” audio clips that make cast members appear far more heinous than they actually are.
“I’m fine with people creating drama out of anything heightened that you would do in your everyday life,” Spencer Pratt, star of MTV’s “The Hills,” told Vanity Fair in a new exposé about the dirty trick. “That is the type of fabricated reality with which I am comfortable… However, the worst part is not what they demonstrated me doing, but what they demonstrated me saying. It’s the type of editing I’m not a fan of and believe is completely out of whack if you’re calling it reality.”
Pratt recalls an audio clip of him saying, “Let’s hit that back door,” in one particularly heinous instance of Frankenbiting. He claimed it was in reference to entering a club via the VIP entrance, but claims it was edited to sound as if he was about to “hit” his then-girlfriend, Heidi Montag, who is now his wife, from the “back door.”
“It’s like, I don’t speak that way,” he explained to the publication.
According to industry insiders, network executives do press show producers to edit audio to increase drama — truth be damned.
“No one ever says, ‘We need a villain,’” an anonymous producer whose credits include a popular dating show explained about how editing instructions are communicated. “It’s more mobster in the sense that — you know how in movies they sit around the table and say, ‘You know what needs to be done’? That is the case.”
However, as more people speak out against the practice, there is hope that it will soon become less acceptable.
Toni-Ann Lagana received widespread praise for her January article in the Hollywood Reporter about how underpaid producers are forced to perform extreme edits on audio clips for shows.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from coworkers and former bosses who reached out to congratulate and thank me for speaking out,” she told Vanity Fair of the response to her piece.