The Evil Imp



People on the “inside” of the business that we call show are well aware of the dubious practice of selective quoting that goes on for publicity materials. A word removed here and there, a little bit of context obscured, that sort of thing.

It’s well known that when it comes to dance film we, here in TheLab™, are not big fans of the medium and with that in mind we always cast a particularly analytical eye over anything to do with that part of the profession.

Our interest was aroused when we read the following quote from a critic, apparently, referring to ‘Dance For Camera 2’, released on DVD in the USA by First Run Features.

“Where the allusiveness of dance meets the intimacy of film to create a new kind of magic!” – The New York Times”

Another quote from the US publication Village Voice says;

“In short, everything the camera can do to and for dance: movement cut, spliced, dissolved, flattened, montaged, and projected larger than life.” – Village Voice”

Sound impressive, right? If the New York Times and The Village Voice say your DVD is great then great it must be, there are few publications in the world with the pedigree and prestige of the New York Times after all.

The problem is that neither clipping is related to the DVD at all. The New York Times quote is culled from a review of a dance festival by John Rockwell that took place in New York in January 2006. The review does mention that some dance film took place but none of the films included on the DVD is mentioned.

The same is true of the Village Voice quote. The review is of the same festival, this time by Deborah Jowitt, in New York but, again, makes no mention of any of the films on that particular DVD. There is no question that the two reviews are not referring to the ‘Dance For Camera’ 2 DVD at all. How could they, the DVD didn’t even exist when the reviews were written!

Another quote from the distributors website, again from the New York Times;

“Another highlight is Case Studies – hilarious and witty!”- The New York Times”

The quote does relate to one of the films on the DVD, ‘Case Studies from the Groat Center for Sleep’, but the phrase itself is not in the review at all. The piece was printed in 2005. The two words, “hilarious” and “witty” are in the review but the rest of the paragraph has been truncated and the word “and” added to the middle of it.

It may seem trivial but misquoting the press and implying that specific writers and media outlets have seen and have a positive view of your commercial product is a fairly serious misstep in terms of ethics and honesty.

The sub-headline on the FRF website says “What The Critics Are Saying” which implies that the reviews are both current and making reference to the DVD itself, clearly this is not true.

Yet another press quote, from the Toronto Globe and Mail, was culled from an article written in 2002, although it does appear to be referencing a film on the DVD we can’t tell because the article itself is behind a paywall on the papers website.

People are justified in complaining when the media truncates or misquotes statements when reporting stories, the same is true when it’s the other way around. First Run Features are blatantly mis-representing press clippings that have no relation to the product they are selling.

Thus far, they have declined to comment.