I speak for all printers when I say "Ouch!"
"And the spinning... always the spinning. Let's see you do
(hurls laptop through the air)
Simultaneously showing the passage of time and the impact of events by showing newspaper headlines. For added effect, the papers emblazoned with these headlines spin towards the camera before pausing briefly and fading out. It is usually also accompanied by a trumpet sound effect.
The Spinning Paper
usually takes place against a black background but often fades in footage of people in animated conversation, using telephones or reading newspapers. It is also common to show the Spinning Paper
as an overlay on footage of printing presses. It is usually prefaced with either a newspaper boy yelling "Extra! Extra!"
or a shot of a stack of newspapers being delivered.
The Spinning Paper
is more commonly used in movies rather than TV shows and is such an over-used cliché
that these days it is usually used not for dramatic, but for comedic value, as in The Simpsons
Back in the days before this device had been done to death, some B Movies
would—as an alternative to printing up a custom faux-newspaper—apparently use certain stock layouts, with everything below the massive main headline cut-and-pasted from previous fake front pages. This is why certain news articles, like "New Petitions Against Tax"
, appear on completely unrelated front pages with such frequency. Which does lead one to wonder
why, with the main headline proclaiming Armageddon
, some papers consider "Building Code Under Fire" to be newsworthy
A Spinning Paper
will often display the Worst News Judgment Ever
. See also News Monopoly
Compare Spinning Clock Hands
, Exploding Calendar
to show the passage of time.
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- Parodied in a TV advertisement for Yogo, with the last paper of the montage saying 'Newspaper Readers Get Dizzy'.
Anime and Manga
- Played straight in Suzumiya Haruhi with a tabloid press newspaper, showing what would happen if Haruhi was to spread the picture of the computer club president groping Mikuru.
- A similar trope was used by Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940), where papers coming off the press are used in the same way. This later became a popular Film Noir trope.
- The definitive parody of the Spinning Paper trope is in The Last Remake Of Beau Geste when a spinning newspaper is delivered to the Geste family's doorstep, and the paper continues spinning even as butler Spike Milligan attempts to pick it up. He has to keep circling around the spinning newspaper so that he can read the headline.
- There's a running gag involving the butler and several similar tropes, including a scene with the Exploding Calendar, where the butler is desperately trying to stop the pages from flying off the calendar.
- The film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey ends with a minutes-long comic headline sequence where various real-world publications detail the band's rise to fame and the resulting steps towards world peace.
- Airplane uses spinning newspaper headlines as a stock gag. The first two are about the plane that is doomed to crash, and a third is about a child who ate his own foot. In the next shot, there's a spinning TV which cuts to a news broadcast. The sequel recycles the joke, with the third one being about a man who undergoes sex change surgery and marries him-(her?)-self.
- In the film Strange Brew, there is a spinning newspaper, but when it stops, it is revealed to have the wrong side up and a hand quickly reaches out to flip the paper over to show the intended side.
- The movie version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix features a series of dynamic and quite visually impressive Spinning Paper-esque headline montages, as well as using the moving pictures in the paper (Magic, people!) to transition smoothly from scene to scene.
- Used in The Incredibles, in conjunction with Practical Voiceover and fake news footage, to explain the Super Relocation Act.
- In Star Wreck 6, a very popular Finnish hobbyist-produced sci-fi parody film, newspapers headlines following P-Fleet's conquest of the world are shown in this manner within an old-style propaganda film within the show.
- Played straight in Talk of the Town, when it's used repeatedly for transitions, exposition, and montage. Spinning papers appear when Leopold Dilg (wrongfully accused of arson and murder) escapes, after he's caught, and when he's freed.
- Played straight in Hoodlum.
- Played straight, but without spinning, in the first Spider-Man movie.
- And shows up in the second, as J. Jonah Jameson yells "I WAAANT SPIIIDEERMAAAAAAANNNN!!!", a spinning newspaper announces: "He's Back!".
- Scenes from the first two films are re-enacted by children in a play for the music video to Snow Patrol's song 'Signal Fire' (which is part of the soundtrack to the third film), and features a live action spinning paper detailing Spidey's heroics.
- Played straight in The Godfather Part III.
- And as a result spoofed in Mafia!. One of the headlines is "A spinning paper appears over a cathedral"
- Used in the Genre Throwback movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), along with a Practical Voiceover, to show that the robot attack on New York is part of a worldwide phenomenon. The short film version had the paper spin, the 2004 movie just had a pan across newspaper headlines from across the world.
- Used and played straight in Tim Burton's Batman
- Happens in the "The Meek Shall Inherit" number from the film version of the musical Little Shop of Horrors.
- In Chicago, just as Roxie's verdict is about to be announced, a paper with the headline "Roxie Hart Innocent" is shown. It's also revealed that the newspapers printed up some "Roxie Hart Guilty" issues, just in case.
- Done humorously in the Shirley MacLaine film What A Way To Go!, when successive spinning Variety headlines become more and more tongue-twisting and ridiculous, some having every word start with the same letter.
- Occurs in the film Fatal Instinct.
- The film Revenge of the Creature features this trope after the creature's escape.
- The Incredible Mr Limpet. After Henry Limpet destroys the attacking U-boat wolf pack, a series of spinning newspaper headlines list the final events of World War 2 until victory.
- The ending of Dumbo, after Dumbo has become a celebrity.
- The prologue to the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express features a montage of Spinning Papers chronicling the kidnapping, and eventual murder, of Baby Daisy Armstrong.
- Although not spinning, each of the Indians' Miracle Rally montages in the first two Major League movies (as well as their near-collapse in the ALCS of the second) give us newspaper headlines of big moments, which have as a picture the last frame of the previous scene.
- Appears twice in Bugsy Malone, once with a shot of a paper press.
- Happens towards the end of Chaplin (1992).
- Played straight in The Toxic Avenger.
- In Muppets Most Wanted, there are sequences that start with the spinning, blurred newspaper, but instead of ending with a shot of the front page, they end by cutting to a shot of a 1970s-style console TV, with the Muppet Newsman giving a report.
- A montage of glossy covers of popular real-life magazines when Michael Dorsey starts becoming famous as Dorothy Michaels, in Tootsie.
- Used in The Mighty Ducks to cover the Ducks' series of victories.
Live Action TV
- Used in the opening credits of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. to tell the pilot's back story of Brisco's dad getting killed, millionaires hiring his son, and Lord Bowler as a competitive bounty hunter.
- Siskel & Ebert: Used as the title logo screen.
- Married... with Children: During the baseball strike in 1994, one spinning headline reads, "Baseball Player Spinning Papers", before showing someone (the baseball player) doing just that.
- Lois and Clark has spinning newspapers from across the world reacting to Superman's debut in the pilot. They do it again when he leaves Earth in the last episode of Season 3. On both occasions the trope is dealt with more or less straight... until the final paper is a supermarket tabloid with a ridiculous headline.
- They also did it when Lex Luthor was exposed for the criminal he was and plunged to death to avoid life in prison. The last headline said he and Elvis Presley opened a shop in Hawaii.
- In the Doctor Who 2008 episode The Unicorn and The Wasp, three newspaper front pages telling about Agatha Christie's disappearance are shown in this manner.
- Lampshaded to death in British children's comedy series Roger And The Rottentrolls. When a new Rottentroll Prime Minister is elected, the newspapers are nailed to a wall and Yockenthwaite is seen spinning them by hand.
- In an episode of Scrubs, the Janitor puts his newsletter The Janitorial on a stick and spins it to get this effect.
- Parodied in an episode of The Facts of Life where Tootie fails her driving test.
- Parodied in a couple of sketches in The Kids in the Hall, one with headlines telling of teenager Bobby's below-average poetry and songwriting, and another with Simon & Hecubus ("Simon Eats Soup In A Fit Of Rage")
- Parodied in Police Squad!! where a paper reading "Chump KO's Champ in Bar Fight" is followed immediately by another reading "Champ OK's Chump for Title Fight".
- Given this trope's popularity in old B Movies, it should come as no surprise that it shows up many times in various episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, often with a Proportional Article Importance joke about the new petitions against tax, as seen in the link above.
Servo: Audience baffled by free-floating headlines! Trite headline device used to enhance plot! Producers hope to work in calendar-flipping before the end of the film!...Trite headline device still ineffective! Buildings still large!
- They even used Spinning Paper during a sketch in which Servo parodied Tony Travis' rise to stardom in The Beatniks. Naturally this was done in the No Budget style of the show, with each headline on the end of a long pole that Joel twirled manually in front of Cambot while vocalizing the musical effect.
- Used as part of the autobiographical musical Bret and Jemaine perform in the final episode of Flight of the Conchords - because it's a stage performance, they just turn down the lights and have a black-clad Dave slowly walk towards the front of the stage while twirling the paper.
- In November of 1988, when Wheel of Fortune did its first ever road show in New York City, a paper from the "Anytown Times" spins in and says, "Wheel of Fortune in New York!"
- A Superman themed Saturday Night Live sketch ended with the newspaper headline "Earth Destroyed! All that's left, printing press, guys to run it."
- Also appears in the very first SNL episode, as part of a short film by Albert Brooks.
- And in a later sketch about a citywide wave of uncontrollable vomiting. The paper stops spinning, and the camera pans right to show the guy who's been cranking the turntable it's on — and who is now retching violently.
- Used often in Corner Gas with the local Howler. Parodied in "Wedding Card":
Lacey: I made a complete fool of myself... I hope they don't write about this in "The Howler"...
Spinning Paper: NEW BYLAW PROPOSED
Wanda: Nah, the big story's the new bylaw.
- Psych: Parodied; the camera zooms out to reveal that the headline is on Gus's iPad, which Shawn is spinning on a desk.
- Used in the 1970s Ellery Queen TV series. It is very prominent in the pilot episode "Too Many Suspects" but also used in other episodes. Undoubtedly a deliberate choice to help invoke the feeling of the 1940s when the series is set.
- The JAG episode "Contemptuous Words" opens with a printing press spinning, however, the relevant content is read in the following scence.
- Spoofed in Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's failed pilot The Weekenders, where Vic's character spots a newspaper ad saying 'Meat Festival' and mimics this effect by spinning the whole table he's reading from like the Wheel of Fortune.
- Styx used this in both "Paradise Theater" tours. The first, in 1980, was part of the animated "opening credits," which displayed the performers doing various old-timey things. The second was at the beginning of the "Return to Paradise" tour: on the VHS release, the graphic now read "PARADISE THEATER RE-OPENS!"
- Used in WHO dunnit to announce the start of each new murder case. If you capture the killer, it's also used to announce your victory and herald the start of multiball.
- Shakespeare's Richard III summarizes an entire civil war with a series of messengers arriving at Richard's headquarters.
- The Solid Gold Cadillac opened its second act on a show curtain showing the tabloid papers putting the government sex scandal in big headlines, and the New York Times ignoring it in favor of financial news. (The movie version averted this trope.)
- The first Destroy All Humans! uses it straight at the end of each stage... if you can call the increasingly implausible cover-ups for the mayhem Crypto has committed "using it straight". You'll also see a Spinning Paper if Crypto gets killed, describing the cover-up used for the capture of his body.
- Shows up at intervals in Day Of The Tentacle; each new headline alludes to Purple Tentacle's progressing plan for world domination.
- Whenever a new feature is unlocked, you enter the playoffs, or you pitch a perfect game, this happens in Backyard Baseball.
- The opening video of Zork: Grand Inquisitor has a couple, in addition to a lot of severely not-funny footage of book-burnings and mass arrests and the like with such hilarious narration that it Crosses the Line Twice.
- Happens when you lose in Theme Hospital, with a front-page scandal about you.
- You get one of these every time a new level begins in The Simpsons: Hit & Run.
- Covert Front has these in the beginning of the first game, starting with one reporting the assassination of the French Prime Minister and ending with one reporting the beginning of World War One.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 the Allies ending there are several newspapers showing the Commanders victory and the Soviet premier defeat in his boxer.
- At the intro of Beaver Power in Fur Fighters a spinning paper is displayed showing that Viggo Industries has bought the dam the hub is centred around. It spins into the hands of a beaver just before Viggo himself shows up.
- In Jazzpunk, this occurs when you use the newspaper vending machine, complete with appropriate musical sting. If you happen to use a quarter on the Fem Bot prostitute, the next paper you buy may report that you sexually harassed the vending machine.
- The Intro of Bug has this.
- The Sega Genesis version of Ghostbusters uses a variant of this: the newspaper simply fades in, but the effect is the same. The headline is always "GHOST COPS BUST ___ STREET SPOOK."
- Hey Arnold!! had this during a Dream Sequence in the episode "Married".
- In an episode of The Fairly OddParents they did a spinning paper, and then pulled out to show it in the middle of Timmy's room with Cosmo spinning it in midair. Wanda complains that she can't read it, so Cosmo proceedes to spin her along with the paper.
- This trope was used much earlier in "Foul Ball", where Chester, son of the worst Major League baseball player in history, suddenly becomes ridiculously good at the game (thanks to Timmy's wish). Cue not newspapers, but magazines with Chester's face plastered across them (and ending with a picture of Timmy on Pack Mule Monthly)
- Also spoofed on Robot Chicken, with a headline reading to the effect of "Spinning Paper Voted Lamest Cinematic Cliche."
- Another episode has lampshades the trope by having one of the papers be named "The Spinning Times".
- Parodied on The Simpsons; after being played straight with two newspapers announcing plot points, a third one bears the headline "Spinning Newspaper Injures Printer".
- Another is in a Couch Gag: "Couch Gag Thrills Nation".
- The Springfield Shopper announcing Homer's challenge to Gentleman Thief Malloy is stolen by Malloy as soon as it stops spinning.
- One episode featured a spinning newspaper with a headline that related to the main story. One of the sub-headlines read "China invades US".
- After Mayor Quimby quotes Gabbo's "I've been a bad boy" gag, spinning paper shows the main headline "Quimby re-elected in landslide" while smaller corner article reads "Two more bodies surface at harbor"
- "Marge vs. SSCCTG" has the sub-headline "Second Headline Less Important, Studies Show".
- Done several times in the Transformers Animated episode "Three's A Crowd". when Dirt Boss and the Constructicons start taking over gas stations and oil refineries. It's rather obviously metaphorical, since this all seems to take place in a single day (unless the Autobots were spending all week trying to get Lugnut out of that hole). Also it's The Future, they may not even have newspapers.
- Parodied on The Oblongs with the first two having headlines about a "local hero woman" and the third one with a headline about the "unexplained newspaper spinning continuing."
- Played straight in Batman: The Animated Series. Additionally, Fox Kids used to preview the day's episode with ads using a Spinning Paper opener describing a key plot point of the episode.
- The student election episode of Clone High has one of the best spinning paper gags. The main headline is the sensible and plot-relevant "New Polls In: JFK ahead", but below that is "New Poles In: Tetherball Club Ecstatic".
- The animated series Super Dave: Daredevil For Hire featured two spinning newspapers in succession, the second one with the headline "Newspaper Spins!" and a photograph of the first paper.
- Used multiple times (including the Couch Gag) in the Squirrel Boy episode "News It or Lose It".
- In the Futurama episode "Less Than Hero", after Fry, Leela and Bender become superheroes, a Spinning Paper is shown... with the headline "No Action on Rates by FED". "Mysterious Vigilantes Foil Crime" is a title of a small article in the same newspaper.
- Superfriends 1973/74 episode "The Balloon People". "Balloon People land on Earth. Saucer lands in backyard after space trip."
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Used in "Green Isn't Your Color", with magazines featuring Fluttershy's face demonstrating the runaway success of her modeling career.
- Used with the Ponyville school newspaper in "Ponyville Confidential".
- The Critic:
- In "Marathon Mensch," when Jay went missing during the New York marathon and was presumed dead.
- In "Eyes on the Prize," when Jay is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
- An episode of Chilly Beach had two spinning papers covering the local election, and a third announcing that "Small town can support three newspapers!"
- A spinning front page of the Smurf Village newspaper can be seen in The Smurfs episode "All The News That's Fit To Smurf". And this is just right after Reporter got some juicy news from his fellow Smurfs by hiding under a table and listening to them talk secretly to each other!
- Older versions of Windows Movie Maker had a video effect that let you show text as a spinning newspaper.