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It’s time to stop blaming the editing

Reality TV contestants need to stop making excuses
/ Source: contributor

Omarosa and her drywall-induced injury. Colin, Christie, and their broken ox. Jenn C. and her comment about "those two old, fat Jewish ladies." Reality television has provided viewers with many memorable moments in the past few years, but so often, the participants claim that those moments were manufactured or fabricated in the editing room.

On the first season of "The Apprentice," Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth was reviled by her teammates and viewers alike. Her slacker ways, refusal to take responsibility, and condescending manner made her fascinating and repellant at the same time.

A bonk on the head from an errant piece of drywall resulted in Omarosa needing a lot of time off from various tasks, due to what she said was a massive headache. Of course, said headache did not stop her from joining in a basketball game with some kids on the street. After some similar incidents, Trump finally fired Omarosa, telling her that she had "a chip on her shoulder."

Omarosa from Season 1 Apprentice.
Omarosa from Season 1 Apprentice.

In a Feb 25 article in The Washington Post, Omarosa said that "what [viewers saw] on the show is a gross misrepresentation" of who she is. She also said that the editors portrayed her as lazy, while she claims that, as a result of the drywall incident, she spent 10 hours in the emergency room. Her conclusion? "It's all in the editing!"

Even if you believe Omarosa's claims of misleading editing, the pattern presented throughout the show is one of someone who is willing to bend the truth to save her own bacon. Can the editors really be blamed for every stupid or malicious thing that Omarosa did or said? Somehow, somewhere, Omarosa herself must take responsibility for the things she actually did say, and thus her overall depiction.

Hating the ox
A similar case of the pattern overriding the individual incident comes when talking about Colin Guinn and Christie Woods, the second-place finishers in the most recent installment of CBS's "Amazing Race." On the show, Colin was presented as an intense hothead while his girlfriend Christie started out very submissive and was soon revealed to have a mean streak of her own.

In an Oct. 2 article in their hometown paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Colin and Christie brought up a number of incidents from the show that they felt were "taken out of context, transposed, and manipulated." In a scene in the Philippines where it seemed that Christie told her taxi driver to run over pedestrians, she now claims she actually was telling him it was okay to run over a production team that was blocking their way. Similarly, Colin claims that while it looked like he was telling Christie that he hated her in the now infamous "broken ox" task, he was actually talking to the ox. He hated the ox, not Christie.

This point-by-point nitpicking misses the point. It wasn't just those two instances that created the audience perception of Colin and Christie as over-the-top competitive psychos. It wasn't that Colin seemingly told Christie he hated her; it was that Colin threw a huge temper tantrum for about an hour before that, and broke down sobbing in the middle of a field while Christie berated and nagged him from the sidelines. It wasn't that Christie seemingly told the taxi driver to run down pedestrians; it was that Christie was so intently focused on winning that she would tell her taxi driver to run anyone down at all.

Overall, in big and small ways throughout the season, Colin and Christie were shown to be intense competitors without much self-awareness. It almost won them the million dollars, but it also won them the role of the season's villains.

When reality meets real lifeMost recently, Jennifer Crisafulli of the second season of "The Apprentice" was vilified and relieved of responsibilities at her real-life job as a real-estate broker after she was shown during a task calling some patrons who gave her restaurant a bad review "two old Jewish fat ladies." According to an Oct. 1 story in the Albany Times Union, Crisafulli's former boss stated, "We do not intend to have an individual in our organization who subscribes to this point of view."

Crisafulli claims that the editors did not show her clarification of her remarks, including a mention of her own family's Jewish heritage. Whether or not that explanation would have appeased her employer remains to be seen.

Jennifer C from Season 2 Apprentice
Jennifer C from Season 2 Apprentice

In this case, if in fact Crisafulli was fired due to this one specific incident, it makes a little more sense for her to point out the faults in the show's editing. Crisafulli's very livelihood depends on her defense.

But even if her intentions in making the remark about the two women were misconstrued, it remains that Crisafulli was a contentious blabbermouth on the show.

She locked horns with diminutive lawyer Stacey many times, even going so far as to call her "Munchkin," and on more than one occasion, Crisafulli had to be told to shut up in the boardroom. She may not be an anti-Semite, but the evidence shows that Crisafulli, at least during the weeks that the show was filmed, was not entirely pleasant.

In all of these cases, reality show participants willingly signed up for what they probably imagined would be fame and potential fortune. Instead, they ended up with more enemies than fans.

When taken point by point, it's possible that these reality show participants have a case that the editing was misleading. But the editors and story producers have to take each of these moments and paste them together to create an overall representation of each participant, and perhaps more importantly, make an entertaining narrative.

According to one story producer for a network reality show, "If you did it and it got caught on film, it doesn't matter how much other delightful stuff you did — you can't blame the editors for using the good stuff, and you can't claim they fabricated it." Exactly.

Kim Reed is a writer in Upstate New York.