The other night, a French network aired something called “Le Jeu de la Mort” or “Game of Death,” a documentary on how far some people would go if invested with absolute power and in order to achieve fame. Under the pretense of shooting a pilot for a new reality show, producers wanted to see how people would react in what could only be described as extraordinary circumstances, the Independent says.
So, they came up with the idea of a fake competition: in order to win it, contestants had to push a button that delivered electrical shocks to a man on a chair. Motivated by the desire to win, 64 of the contestants (an overwhelming 80 percent) pushed the button and “killed” the man, no matter how hard he screamed, pled or cried. What the people on the show did not know was that the man was an actor, there was no electrical current in his chair and they had just been tested to see how low they’d scoop for a shot at fame and, presumably, a prize in cash.
As expected, the documentary did not fail to cause a storm. “Critics, however, lambasted the documentary for using precisely the same brainwashing and televisual distorting techniques it claimed to expose. The experiment, they pointed out, was based on an approach first used by the American social psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1963. In an attempt to comprehend the behavior of genocidal Nazi death camp guards, Mr. Milgram created a bogus authority which ordered volunteers to administer electric shocks of increasing severity to an unseen person who answered questions wrongly. Two thirds of the volunteers obeyed orders to deliver the potentially fatal doses,” the Independent writes.
“Critics said that last night’s documentary – although it conceded its debt to the Mr. Milgram experiments – suggested that television was somehow uniquely capable of brainwashing people into committing murder. The original experiments, which are often replicated, suggested that the real problem was something deeply rooted in the human psyche: the incapacity of a large majority of people to resist authority or to refuse to follow a crowd or mob. The program, shown on the France 2, the main state-owned channel, was made by Christophe Nick, a celebrated French filmmaker of shock or investigative TV documentaries. The narrator made it clear that the principal target was mass television culture,” the publication further informs.
The conclusion of the documentary was that television had been using humiliation and violence as a means to attract audiences for many years, so perhaps concluding that it won’t be long until we have murder in prime time is not that far-fetched. Critics, as also noted above, strongly disagree.
Other NEWS relating this :
Fake TV Game Show ‘Tortures’ Man, Shocks France
France is reeling from a documentary about a psychological experiment disguised as a game show. Researchers staged a fictitious reality show to see how far people would go in obeying authority, especially if television reinforces that authority.
The documentary Game of Death, broadcast Wednesday in France, shows participants in a game show obeying orders to deliver increasingly powerful electric shocks to a man until he appears to die. The reality show was actually a fiction and the man an actor (Laurent Le Doyen), but the contestants and audience didn’t know
The disturbing results have alarmed the French.
The fictitious game show had all the trappings of a real TV quiz show, including a beautiful and well-known hostess, and a raucous audience. A group of contestants posed questions to a man sitting inside a box in front of them in an electric chair.
The hostess and a chanting audience urged the players — who had levers in front of them — to send jolts of electricity into the man in the box when he gave an incorrect answer.
Even when the player screamed out in pain for them to stop, 80 percent of the contestants kept zapping him. In reality, the man in the electric chair was an actor who wasn’t really being shocked — but the players and the audience did not know that.
The documentary makers say reality television relies increasingly on violent, humiliating and cruel acts to boost ratings. They say they simply wanted to see if we would go so far as to kill someone for entertainment.
Christophe Nick produced the documentary, The Game of Death, with a group of scientists and researchers.
“Most of us think we have free thinking and so we are responsible for our acts,” Nick says. “This experience shows that in certain circumstances, a power — the TV in this case — is able to make you do something you don’t want to do.”
The idea that something deeply rooted in the human psyche makes most of us unable to resist authority is not new. The French documentary was based on an American experiment carried out in the 1960s by psychologist Stanley Milgram.
Milgram had participants delivering what they believed were electric shocks to a man every time he answered a question incorrectly. In that experiment, 60 percent of participants obeyed the sadistic orders until the end.
The French documentary, which was broadcast in France on Wednesday night, included footage of the Milgram experiment.
Sociologist Jean Claude Kaufmann says the French version combines Milgram’s use of authority with the power of live television. He says the result in the French experiment — a higher percentage of participants willing to shock the subject — shows that the manipulative power of television further increases people’s willingness to obey.
Television talk shows ruminated over the documentary Thursday. Comparisons are being drawn to the manipulation of the masses in Nazi Germany. One of the game show participants, Jerome Pasanau, said in an interview that he was still haunted by the experience.
“I wanted to stop the whole time, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t have the will to do it. And that goes against my nature,” he said. “I haven’t really figured out why I did it.”
Pasanau told the TV host that he felt intimidated and isolated on the fictitious game show set, and that the crowd was overbearing. The host countered by pulling up footage of Pasanau pumping 460 volts of electricity until the actor pretending to be electrocuted seems to keel over dead.
In the footage, the game show hostess yells: “And you’ve won!”
Video : More about ‘The Game of Death’