I'm curious. C-U-R-I-O-U-S.
July 18, 2008 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Why do they make the subjects of A&E's Intervention spell their name out loud?

This has been bothering me for some time. Is there any reason that Intervention more often than not opens with an interview with the addict (or occasionally a family member) introducing themselves, and then spelling their name out loud.

Why do they make them do this?? I doubt it's for the documentary crew's benefit in spelling it correctly (even if it were, why wouldn't they edit it out?). It's obviously done on request (I don't know of anyone who spontaneously spells their name after introducing themselves), and occurs in almost every episode. Certainly there must be a reason.
posted by cosmic osmo to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why do they make them do this?? I doubt it's for the documentary crew's benefit in spelling it correctly (even if it were, why wouldn't they edit it out?). It's obviously done on request (I don't know of anyone who spontaneously spells their name after introducing themselves), and occurs in almost every episode. Certainly there must be a reason.

Most likely, it's a humanizing touchstone for viewers - a way for them to connect with the subject on a subconscious level. It also stands out in your mind as something that's unique about the show and lets you know what you're watching, even without seeing the opening credits.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2008


I'd wondered about this too, but I think beaucoupkevin probably has it right. I've also wondered, with some of the people, how many takes they had to do to get it right.
posted by sanka at 6:49 AM on July 18, 2008


I always thought it was along the lines of reinforcing that they are a real person and not some actor. They spell it out to make sure that you get their name and know them on a personal level.
posted by lilkeith07 at 6:56 AM on July 18, 2008


Making sure they're sober enough to do x?

x being consent to an interview, sign a contract, or something similar.
posted by sondrialiac at 6:56 AM on July 18, 2008


I always thought it was so they don't misspell it when they title it in post production. And they just left it in for fun.
posted by nitsuj at 6:59 AM on July 18, 2008


I'd say they just use it as a definer for their show, as beaucoupkevin stated. For example, Penn & Teller's Bullshit will have the interview subject stand or sit in their surroundings (usually in a wide shot) and give their name and title. This "introduction" often isn't at the beginning of their interview, so it is a effect that stands out as unique.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:23 AM on July 18, 2008


I have not seen this show but I can tell you that in television news, this is standard for most interviews. "Please say your name and spell it". This way, we'd be sure later that her name is pronounced "MEE-gan" not "MEG-an" and that he spells his name "Jon" not "John". Notes can get lost, and people make mistakes, but the chances of an error are greatly reduced if you have the person saying and spelling their name.

So I think nitsuj and shinynewnick are both correct in their answers as to how it works on that show.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2008


Remember in Silence of The Lambs, The Mother of the girl trapped in the well performed a TV interview and kept repeating the daughters name over and over again. She did it to make it so the daughter was not an object to the kidnapper, to humanize her.
posted by bleucube at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2008


Saying and spelling your name is standard procedure in court. I suspect they are copying that process here.
posted by AuntLisa at 10:18 AM on July 18, 2008


They do that on the WNYC radio show RadioLab from time to time as well. I've never seen this show you're talking about, but on RadioLab, I believe it's mainly supposed to serve as a peek of behind-the-scenes action for the listener. Maybe this A&E show is the same way...
posted by joshrholloway at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2008


I figured it was to make the show seem more academic and rigorous, and to emphasize the clinical/social sciency side of the show. In other words, to make it look like it's run as a Serious Documentary rather than a polished, carefully edited "reality show."
posted by meta_eli at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2008


I have a completely opposite take - that if the first thing you're going to do with someone who isn't used to being filmed, a way to make them comfortable might be to ask them to say then spell their name for a few takes. The other answers make just as much sense.
posted by rainbaby at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2008


« Older Ideas for handling "virtual" projects in source...   |   Latin American Geopolitics Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.