In film, there’s a principle called the Kuleshov effect, which is that when you place two clips together that appear related, the mind will construct a narrative. This is the foundation of film editing.
This 1999 short film, The Vyrotonin Decision, demonstrates this perfectly. In the section between 2:15 and 2:40, a woman answers a phone, hears a man on the other end of the line threaten suicide, and hangs up on him. We see this as one sequence, but the clips are from multiple films, In fact, pay attention when she hangs up the phone: it’s a different hand and a different phone entirely!
I’ve been thinking about this film a lot since we’ve been following the media coverage of the ongoing situation in Ferguson. It first popped into my head when I read articles about Dorian Johnson’s lawyer confirming Mike Brown was in the surveillance footage at the convenience store. Articles put sentences next to one another saying that police claimed there was a robbery in the store and that Johnson’s lawyer confirmed Brown was in the store. The lawyer didn’t say Brown robbed the store, but if you but those two sentences together, the mind creates a narrative, which is how the narrative as a whole became about a “confessed” robbery in spite of the video showing money in the clerk’s hand and the store owner saying the store didn’t call the police.
When you read things, when you watch things, be careful. Look for what narrative you’re being sold and make sure it matches with the facts being presented.