Confused Bystander Interview
When a large action sequence takes place in an urban environment, it is reasonable to assume that there were a significant number of people who witnessed the events. Sometimes, the incident is successfully covered up, but at other times, eyewitness accounts and recorded footage make this impossible, and it's splashed all over the news the next day. Some works take this a step further, and have the local Intrepid Reporter interview someone who was there at the scene as part of a news broadcast. This character is usually not a member of the main cast, and will often end up as a One-Scene Wonder at best. Dramatic variants do exist, but these interviews are most often Played for Laughs. The interviewee is often a ditzy teenager or young adult who recounts the story in Buffy Speak, and makes their own sound effects to go with it. Particularly excitable ones may just go nuts over the fact that they are on TV. For added hilarity, the witness will often exaggerate details or get them entirely wrong. Often a sign that the Masquerade is breaking. See also: Vox Pops, Hi, Mom!.
open/close all folders
Film — Animated
- Happens in Monsters, Inc. after Boo's presence is discovered. "Witnesses" claim to have seen her use laser vision and mind powers.
Film — Live Action
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie features a montage of confused bystander interviews at the end. It's (somewhat) justified in that almost all the characters don't believe in vampires - even after they've just seen them - and are proposing alternate theories instead. ("I think they were Young Republicans.")
- In the film of Ghost Rider this scene happens with a goth girl who is not so much confused as impressed.
- In The Incredible Hulk there's an interview that doubles as a Mythology Gag - the two college students interviewed about the Hulk's appearance at Culver University are Jack McGee (Banner's Inspector Javert from the TV series) and Jim Wilson (one of Hulk's Kid Sidekicks from the comics). McGee even mentions hoping to become a reporter some day.
- Happens in the Spider-Man movies a few times.
- In The Great Man, a radio reporter is given the job of creating a eulogy for their beloved on-air personality who has died. In addition to not being able to find anyone who actually knew him who liked him, they recorded interviews with people who came to walk by his casket as he lay in state. Most were so confused that they simply edited them to make them sound coherent.
- In Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins half of the song "How I Saved Roosevelt" is bystanders who witnessed the attempted assassination of Roosevelt talking to the press, and inflating their own importance in the event.
We're crowded up close,
And I see this guy,
He's squeezing by,
I catch his eye,
I say to him, "Where do you
Think you're trying to go, boy?
I say, "Listen, you runt,
You're not pulling that stunt,
No gentleman pushes their way to the front."
I say, "Move to the back!", which he does with a grunt —
Which is how I saved Roosevelt!
- From El Goonish Shive: After a battle involving a superhero, a dragon, and a mysterious cloaked figure, reporter Carol Brown interviews a teenaged bystander. This bystander, identified only as "Heidi," is hyperactive, very animated, and prone to using sound effects and all sorts of Buffy Speak as she describes the battle. Carol even copies some of her odd word choice before catching herself. However, this ultimately turns out to be a subversion. "Heidi" is not actually a bystander, but the superhero she claims to have witnessed. She's also the usually male main character, Elliot, but that is perhaps beside the point.
- The infamous Chk-Chk-Boom Girl from Australia. But Subverted- She wasn't actually there at the scene of the crime, she just wanted to mess around with the nearby news crew.