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Turn Off the Camera

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"Hey, you nutcase. Put that camera down and get this lady to a hospital! TV news... sheesh!"

A Stock Phrase. Comes in three versions:

Something to Hide: The Corrupt Corporate Executive, rock star or other celebrity on a TV show is asked a rather uncomfortable question, and doesn't want to damn himself in front of thousands of witnesses armed with video recorders.

Blocking The Fourth Wall: This covers all the other times, when the person just wants the camera crew to stop sticking a camera in his face.

Have Some Decency: Rarer is when it's an offence to human decency - it's not something that should be filmed and used as entertainment.

In any case, the plea is the same: "Look, turn off the camera". Very much Truth in Television. Compare Film the Hand.


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Something to Hide:

    Comic Books 
  • Played for laughs in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. Rewind wants to make a documentary about the Lost Light crew, but in order to get permission to do so he must agree to let Ultra Magnus edit it before release. Any footage of Magnus doing something embarrassing ends up replaced with a card explaining that it was removed.
  • Robin: A reality TV show host makes the mistake of trying to film Robin taking out some criminals after being told not to. Tim sneakily grabs the tape on his way out and the man doesn't even realize it's gone until later.
  • Cartoon Network Block Party story of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy had Billy having an audition tape for a Japanese extreme game show made with Mandy operating the camera. Billy is getting mauled in the process, and to make things worse, Mandy never removed the camera's lens cap.

    Fan Works 

  • Diary of the Dead. The protagonist are stopped at a National Guard checkpoint and a soldier tells the POV cameraman to turn off his camera in a threatening manner. We then cut to after the soldiers have left, and it's revealed they are Dangerous Deserters who stole some of their supplies.
  • After Velma von Tussle in Hairspray reveals that she stuffed the ballot boxes to make her daughter win, Edna Turnblad pulls her attention to a large film camera that has been capturing her every word. She desperately tries to block the camera and yell at the cameraman to cut the feed before her boss calls her back to fire her.
  • Venom (2018): Big Bad Carlton Drake has his security crew abruptly end an interview when Eddy Brock goes off-script to ask about his Research, Inc. company secretly conducting unethical human experimentation.
  • Predator 2. When Keyes catches shock journalist Pope filming the Predator's latest crime scene, he has one of his mooks confiscate his camera. As Pope is lead off amid loud protests, you can see him secretly brace a smaller handheld camera against the back of the man holding him, getting some shots that he later uses in a report.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 30 Rock Liz Lemon and Tracy Jordan go through gymnastics trying to keep their feuding off Angie's reality show.
  • A variation in NCIS: A news network makes it look like Gibbs is pulling this in response to a question regarding a supermodel's death on a Marine base; in reality, Gibbs was never asked the question, and he only ended the interview because a reporter spilled his coffee.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth. The aliens known as 456 do this at one point, saying they want their conversation "Off the record" (an Ironic Echo of an earlier request for a private conversation).

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: The episode "Fight the Good Fight!" is a Stylistic Suck army recruitment ad, meant to lure people into joining the Red vs Blue simulation war. The narrator stops filming twice, once when Grif asked about the aliens and the Freelancers, and a second time when he asks why they're supposed to hate the Blues again.

    Real Life 
  • Used by the CEO of Little Chef when Heston Blumenthal confronted him about his "nationwide" rollout of Heston's new menu... over three caf├ęs.
  • In the 1987 Four Corners documentary "The Moonlight State" that exposed government and police-protected gambling and prostitution in Queensland, Australia, one alleged underworld figure famously responded to being confronted on camera by ordering his men to; "Break his camera and break his mouth too!"

Blocking the Fourth Wall:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is also used in Mockumentary Blair Witch-type movies, and the cameraman always has some feeble answer, like "People will want to know" or "It keeps me sane," to justify the inevitable payoff of his 1st-person death scene.
  • In the fictional documentary "Under the Hood", part of the Watchmen movie universe, the Comedian says to get the camera out of his face, and the voiceover says he is unavailable for comment.
  • Brock Lovett says it in Titanic, after failing to find the diamond in the safe at the beginning of the film.
  • Played with for a Mind Screw effect in The NIN9S during the "Reality Television" segment, which shows parts of an in-universe documentary series about the creation of a TV show. After having fallen out with Melissa McCarthy over replacing her as the star of his show, writer/show runner Gavin storms out onto the street and tells the camera man that he isn't doing the reality show anymore. The Mind Screw comes in the form of Octavia Spencer looking toward the camera and asking, "Who are you talking to?" Gavin looks at where the camera man had been; the audience still sees him from the camera's perspective, but nobody is there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It was said by Bree in an episode of Desperate Housewives, after she tried decorating a croquembouche on a TV interview and failed miserably. Specifically, she said, "Turn off the damn camera."
  • Appears in Reality Show outtakes when someone is upset. Probably after someone says, "I'm Not Here to Make Friends".
  • On Top Gear's Polar Special, Clarkson tells May to turn off the in-car camera just after they've hit a large ice block and are getting out to look at the damage, presumably to make room for a whole heckuva lot of profanity.

    Western Animation 
  • Meg Griffin from Family Guy says it once she's had her fill of the family's reality show.

Have Some Decency:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Die Hard 2, the reporter pushes the camera down when the McClanes reunite, partly to highlight that she is better than the guy from the first movie.
  • Snake Eyes: When the Secretary of Defense is assassinated at a major boxing event, photographers immediately swarm over the site. Detective Rick Santoro punches out one of them and tells the guards to get the rest removed from the crime scene.
  • The Dead Pool. Dirty Harry destroys a TV camera to stop them filming the grieving girlfriend of a murder victim, but to no avail as it was transmitting a video signal. To avoid a lawsuit, he has to bring the reporter in on the case. However the reporter later tells her cameraman to stop filming a man who wants to set himself on fire as a protest, so Harry is able to start Talking Down the Suicidal.
  • What We Do in the Shadows: Vladislav does this after Petyr dies.
    Vladislav: Our friend has just been killed in a fatal sunlight accident!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Heroes" when Dr. Frasier dies.
  • Done on a season 9 episode of The Office (US) by the sound guy (who got in trouble for it later) when Pam started crying after a big argument with Jim.

    Theme Parks 
  • In the queue video for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios, after Spider-Man sees that a news station is filming him rescuing an injured woman, he tells him to put the camera down and get the lady to a hospital, before promptly webs-out the camera lens.

    Western Animation 
  • Rex from Generator Rex, stops a camera crew from filming a family after he's unable to turn one of them back into a human, arguing that he agreed to be filmed but they did not.

    Real Life 
  • Invoked by Terry Pratchett in a BBC documentary about his Alzheimer disease.
  • Can be heard happening in Real Life when R. Budd Dwyer infamously ended a press conference in 1987 by shooting himself while cameras rolled.


Video Example(s):


Petey's Funhouse

Peter asks Quagmire to cut the camera when the former is being mauled by a puma.

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Main / TurnOffTheCamera

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