West Side Story: What is something they portrayed correctly?
JB: That we agreed on something.
JM: I think they set up the scenario correctly, like giving each of our perspectives of the election individually. We all came together. The setup was mostly consistent throughout the whole thing. What I anticipated was that they were going to do the group panel first and then cut to our individually segments, kind of like on reality T.V. when they have someone talking to the camera, but they didn’t do that. It was in order of how it was filmed which I was pleased about. Things weren’t taken out of context too much.
AM: They were able to get the view from both sides and they were able to get us to sit down and talk to each other. Usually, I would say I wouldn’t have personally talked to anyone like Mason because we don’t have anything in common, but they were able to bring us together and make us talk.
JB: They made it seem like we wouldn’t ever talk to anyone but I’ve talked to everyone [in the panel] before.
WSS: What is something they portrayed incorrectly?
JM: The drama. It definitely wasn’t half as dramatic as they made it seem.
JM: Things had died down since the election but they told the story as if it was the day after the election when tensions were that high. They made us seem more divided than we are. We’re perfectly capable of having our own discussion, without adults, and they made it seem like we needed them to mediate, you know what I mean?
JB: They were like ‘Oh, yeah, West is one of the most divided schools in Iowa or in the country” and I was like, “Oh yeah, okay.” I mean West is pretty welcoming as it is. They really intensified it.
AM: I think they really portrayed my friend, Jayn, more aggressive than she is. A lot of people commented–and I know comments are not a thing and we shouldn’t care–but it hurts knowing people said stuff like “Oh, she’s mean” when they don’t even know her, don’t know what she’s been through. They don’t know how this election has been for her when she made [a comment about people supporting Trump] and she couldn’t believe them doing such a thing. And we aren’t a school in turmoil. I am totally capable of talking to Mason on my own, but we just don’t have anything in common so we just wouldn’t ever talk. Only if we are debating something as Republicans and Democrats.
WSS: How did you feel before The View came to film?
JM: I was fine then. Before they came, I just treated it as another interview because a lot of people have been asking us what we think about the election before The View came. So I tried to just remain calm and that kind of thing, but it’s sort of difficult when there are cameras in your face. The waiting time we experienced after they filmed it, before releasing it, was when I was most nervous.
JB: I didn’t ever view it as that big of a deal. Most of my family and friends hyped it up to be a lot bigger deal than I did. I just viewed it as a conversation that happened to air on TV, so I wasn’t really concerned before, during or after.
AM: Before I was really nervous. I know they had asked some teachers to participate but they had turned it down just because they didn’t know what they weren’t going to use and what they were going to use and make things more dramatic than they really are. I was kind of nervous because of that but I also had second thoughts because I’ve been told by my parents and my friends to read through the permission slip carefully. It just said they could use the clips however they wanted to and that’s just one of the things that made me a little nervous.
WSS: How did you feel afterward when it came out? Did you have a gut reaction to it at all?
JM: I don’t know, I said this in my post. While I was watching it I was really proud of us that we actually did that. And after it ended and they went on to the next topic I was just felt a mix of emotions on the way we were portrayed. Just like the flow of the conversation seemed off from the way it actually happened, so that part made me uncomfortable, but at the same time I was really proud of us for doing what we did.
JB: My initial reaction was just like “Oh” and then everyone was like “Oh, you guys did so well” and I thought about it and was like “Oh, that’s really cool that we, as a high school, got this opportunity.” But at the same time, I was [shaken by] the way they portrayed us. Otherwise, I felt indifferent about it. It’s kind of weird having people tell you they saw you on TV and you’re just like “Oh, yeah. Cool.”
AM: [Some comments they made] and everything under the video, [made me think] “Okay, whatever,” but some of them I thought, “You don’t even know us, [and you have the] audacity to say that.” Other than the comments, I felt that I was proud of us for doing what we did and being able to voice our opinions and how we felt, but I really disliked how they portrayed our school and how some of my friends had so many things to say, but they didn’t post it. They only had a four minute segment, but they were debating posting the whole [discussion], so I was just wondering if they were going to post the whole thing.
WSS: You guys kind of already spoke to this, but did you receive any feedback from family or friends, or things you saw online?
JB: They only showed a little bit of me, and the thing that they said wasn’t that controversial, so nobody really commented on me on YouTube. Family and friends were like “Oh, you did really well.” Somebody told me that I was brave because they couldn’t ever think about sharing their opinion without people being like “Oh, well I can’t be your friend anymore based on your opinion.” But, A, I’m probably not going to speak to half the people here before I graduate. And B, if somebody is that childish to ruin a friendship about that, I don’t really care. Either way, I was indifferent about it. I feel like people hyped me up way too much, honestly. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me.
JM: A lot of the reactions I’ve gotten from other people, especially through social media–Facebook and stuff–a lot of people were proud of us and understood our frustration, voiced their own frustration about the show was edited, produced and stuff. I haven’t heard of any negative backlash in real life. Notice how I said in real life, because people who are angered the most are the people that won’t say it to your face. I’ve been trying to stay off my phone and stuff and read comments, really any comments, unless someone tags me or something. I try to not look at it because at the end of the day, people are going to have their own perspectives on this. Whether they’re correct or not, it’s out of our hands now.
AM: We got a lot of support from teachers; a lot of teachers were proud of us. They say they are on our side, and a lot of community members were posting on Facebook, too, saying how they were proud of us as well. I did post one comment on YouTube and I got a lot of positive remarks. I just talked about how we should work together and fight hate. That’s what my friends and I were trying to do. We tried to lure it away from the election and Donald Trump [and talk] about how we need to work together as Republicans and Democrats and fight the hate both sides are dealing with. So, I got a lot of positive feedback; people were really happy with that comment.
Reporter’s note: Merriwether, Mohammed and Baker were interviewed together.