Follow TV Tropes


Vox Pops

Go To

"News networks giving a greater voice to viewers because the social web is so popular are like a chef on the Titanic who, seeing the looming iceberg and fleeing customers, figures ice is the future and starts making snow cones."

A contraction of Vox Populi (Latin for "voice of the people"), vox pops refers to a series of clips of people, presumably random people met on a street, voicing their spontaneous opinions on a given subject. Frequently seen on the news, and often used in parodies of same, as in Monty Python's Flying Circus and a number of late-night talk shows. Also known as a "man on the street" interview.

Refreshingly, or perhaps alarmingly, major news outlets are beginning to rely more and more on Twitter for this kind of "content". Usually they'll have a newscaster (who presumably pissed somebody off to get that job) standing next to a screen the size of a man that's streaming incoming tweets as they happen. Well, that's what they claim. In reality, they're probably picking and choosing ones that neither a) consist entirely of the word "fuck" nor b) express an opinion more extreme than the news media think the average person has.

Compare Confused Bystander Interview. Super-Trope of Selective Stupidity, cherry-picking a survey's responses to make a certain demographic look stupid.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the final chapter of GTO: The Early Years, many supporting characters, and even some former antagonists, give their thoughts on the supposedly dead Oni-Baku duo.

    Comic Books 
  • One Batman story by Neil Gaiman had a reporter interview various Gotham citizens on what they think of Batman's Rogues Gallery. The responses ranged from "They scare me" to "The death penalty is the only language these animals will understand!" to "Dude, I'm behind on my mortgage and the garbage strike is in its third week. You think I've got time to worry about that crap?".
  • There are also "man on the street" interviews in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. In two placed side by side, a liberal hypocrite decries Batman's brutal methods but doesn't live in the city because of the crime, while a conservative bigot cheers Batman on and says "Sure hope he goes after the homos next."
  • Chip Zdarsky's Peter Parker: The Spectactular Spider-Man run ended with a filmmaker making a documentary about Spider-Man, based around vox pop footage to show the good Spidey does apart from beating up Doctor Octopus. The bulk of the story went to a woman who's son was in a gang, and who Spidey tried to help, rather than just leaving him for the cops, interspersed with lighter moments such as the hot dog vendor who promised him free hot dogs for life, and regrets it, because he won't shut up while he's there. The final interviewee shown is Peter Parker, who says he feels like he has a conflict of interest, since he's worked with Spider-Man in several roles, before explaining what he thinks Spider-Man is all about.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is constantly having trouble with his relationship with Annie. Seeing a random couples in the street, he asks them their secrets to a good relationship. The joke is that they not only answer, but give him impossibly specific and detailed advice about his individual relationship.
  • Done at the end of The Boondock Saints, when reporters find that the opinions of the people on the street are divided with respect to the titular vigilantes.
  • Used twice in Mean Girls. Once talking about Regina, the other referring to Cady.
  • Used in Spider-Man, when people give their opinion about the title character.
  • District 9 includes vox pops of South Africans speaking their opinions about the prawns. The filmmakers got realistic performances by asking real people about their opinions on immigrants.
  • Occurs at the end of The Avengers, after the Battle of New York, to foreshadow the public opinion of superheroes in Phase One: most people are supportive and thankful, but some are wondering about the damage the city sustained and the fact that the Avengers themselves aren't answering to anyone.
  • Wrong is Right. After President Lockwood admits to having ordered the assassination of King Awad after he acquired Weapons of Mass Destruction, WTN surveys the American public on whether he was right to do so. Two men say he was right, a woman says he was wrong, while another woman replies, "King who?"

  • Discworld:
    • Parodied in Making Money, where the "Vox Pops" section of a newspaper is summed up as "people in the street who didn't know anything told other people what they knew."
    • In The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day, a character reads the "Vox Populari" column in The Ankh-Morpork Times, and reflects that beginning a statement with "I reckon..." is a good sign that an opinion has been formed without the involvement of actual thought.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie regularly used parodies of these to break up 'proper' sketches:
    Hugh: See this? (holds up a plate) You could eat your dinner off this.
  • Used frequently on The Daily Show, when the Best Fucking News Team Ever goes out onto the streets to survey people.
  • Spoofed in The Day Today as "Speak Your Brains".
  • Dollhouse did this during the imaginatively-titled episode "Man On The Street", asking them about the In-Universe Urban Legend that the Dollhouse exists.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus loved to spoof this. In one, the reporters decided to "ask the man on the street what he thinks"; the camera then shows a French lady ("I am not a man, you silly billy."), then a guy working on a rooftop ("I'm not on the street, you fairy!"), then a guy standing in the middle of a road (a literal "man on the street"), who gets run over before he can answer the question.
  • Used in the first two seasons of Sex and the City, in regards to each episode's question.
  • The "Jay Walking" segments in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
    • The earliest version of The Tonight Show, when Steve Allen was hosting, had spoofs of Vox Pops with members of the show's comedy troupe as the interviewees.
  • Wonder Showzen did this with the regular segment "Clarence's Movies," with the pretense of wanting answers to questions... but really, the only objective was to mock and piss off the people on the street until they started making death threats.
  • Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe deconstructed this, as well as everything else about television, in showing that the process behind Vox Pops is much more complicated than it seems. note 
  • Studio 3 uses this regarding various kid-related topics. A roving camera ensures that kids get the chance to share what they like best, whether it's performing a new BMX trick, introducing their pets or showing off their town.
  • A funny case of this was when The BBC was looking for people to talk about the 1967 Liverpool Derby, only to end up running into Tommy Lawrence, who played the goalkeeper in that match.
  • Back in the 80s and 90s when it was a single station in Toronto, City TV had a show revolving around this called Speaker's Corner. People could walk up to the corner of CityTV's studios in Toronto where there was a booth; people could enter the booth and record short videos of themselves to be broadcast (money from activating the camera would be donated to charity). Here's a typical episode from 1991. The approach was later replicated at other TV stations across Canada; but the new owners of CityTV, Rogers, put an end to the original in 2008 (citing YouTube and the internet as essentially superseding the show's purpose).
  • The game show Street Smarts was built around contestants determining the outcome of man-on-the-street interviews.

  • The music video for Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" consists of people on the street listening to the song on headphones and giving their opinions of it.


    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • The song "So They Say" in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is mostly composed of musical versions of this, as the populace comment on Captain Hammer.
  • The Onion has a regular feature called "American Voices" that is a parody of this trope. Part of the joke is that it always has the same group of pictures of supposedly-average Americans.
  • The Professor Brothers' Future Thoughts takes the form of this.

    Western Animation 
  • Creature Comforts, the Oscar-winning Aardman short, was made up of interviews with ordinary people, which were then animated as zoo animals. Led to a successful TV show, followed by a not-so-successful American version.
    • Tangential but interesting: Aardman was careful to keep the animators away from the interviewees, and even the interviewers. They wanted the animals chosen to be inspired by the Vox Pops alone.
  • The first episode of the third season of Gargoyles did this on the subject of muggles discovering the Gargoyles' existence. The comics redo the scene when retelling the episode.
  • In an episode of South Park, a news broadcast ran down how people felt about a proposal due to be voted on this way
    Reporter: Opinion is quite split on the measure, with 43% of respondents supporting the measure, 42% opposing it, and 15% saying that, if given the chance, they would punch rock musician Jon Bon Jovi square in the balls.
    Guy 1: I think it is a good idea.
    Guy 2: I am opposed to the idea.
    Lady 1: I support the idea.
    Guy 3: Oh yeah, right square in the balls.
  • House of Mouse sometimes features a "mouse on the street" segment where Mickey interviews various Disney characters about a particular subject.

INTERVIEWER: So what do you think of this page?
AVERAGE TROPER #1: I think it's awesome. Lots of great examples.
AVERAGE TROPER #2: I think it sucks!
AVERAGE TROPER #3: I think Vox Pops features are really stupid and don't reflect the opinions of average tropers at all.
AVERAGE TROPER #4: I wish average tropers wouldn't add silly self-demonstrating stingers to pages like this one.
AVERAGE TROPER #5: I hate average tropers! They're so stupid!
AVERAGE TROPER #6: I think most average tropers are way too negative and complain about things too much.
AVERAGE TROPER #7: TV Tropes? What's that?

Alternative Title(s): Man On The Street Interview