Friday, January 06, 2006

The Heist: Derren Brown

Yikes, that was pretty freaky. Sorry to be late commenting but I was indulging last night and have only just had chance to read either the Guardian review or Anna's comment piece (the one contains the other - you can work out which way round that will be....[of course give her time and our Anna will no doubt be the culture writer for the Guardian, but let her finish her degree first!] And, ***KEY POINT THIS*** you may need to scroll the post to read it: blogger was fibbling again).

Anyway, The Heist was seriously freaky TV. I am not sure what was worse about watching the re-enactment of The Milgram Experiment: (1) that the participants were so ill-read and culturally unaware they did not know about the original and well-known experiment, or (2) that one WAS aware and went ahead with most of it anyway!!!

People are able to be manipulated. I think I would just as rather prefer that we knew that rather than see it demonstrated...


Rob said...

In fairness, Lisa, it's not so much a question of being "well-read" as being "well-read in psychology" - not the same thing. In the same way, if you say to a lawyer "Donaghue v Stevenson" they will know exactly what you mean because it's a famous leading case, but you probably don't recognise it. (Google it and have fun though: it's delightfully icky!) I studied both Donaghue v Stevenson and Milgram when doing my MBA, which was rather neat.

Anonymous said...

your comment about the Milgram experiment with respect to the individual who already was aware of it is idiotic. His knowledge meant that he was aware that no real person was suffering, so that his participation was without moral issue. Indeed, a brighter person would have fun with the so called experiment, perhaps enthusiastically moving the 'voltage' to lethal, and then demanding more 'powerful' shock devices to continue the session.

The REAL 'Milgram Experiment' was the show itself, with the viewers being the subject. The fact that Brown demonstrates how easily a monster like Tony Blair can use these methods to achieve his genocidal ends as witnessed in his growing wars across the Globe, and that your only comment is a desire to suppress this truth is the whole point.

Darren Brown sought to demonstrate that theories of mind control well discussed since the 1950's are not fantasies of deluded minds lost in a loony world of conspiracy theories, but practical effective tools used daily by those with the power to control what we see and hear.

That you admit to reading the Guardian, Blair's main pro-war, anti-Muslim propaganda outlet, speaks volumes. In the real world, YOU are the unwitting victim of the greatest experiment into the human condition, and how far people can be manipulated into supporting or participating in the most horrific moral crimes, all the time thinking themselves morally superior.

In order to attack Iran, an act that will exterminate millions, Blair requires people like you to be every bit as brainwashed as the subjects that Darren Brown was able to work with. Are you bright enough to identify each of the methods Brown used, and recognise the analogues that you are subjected to in your Mass Media newspapers and news programs. "Can YOU feel it"???

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I tend not to reply to anonymous comments, but felt maybe this needed some kind of response.

Firstly though, let me say that despite Rob's remarks, I stand by my comment that given the participants were of executive standing (and judging by their age I would think all had been through HE) I think they probably should have heard of the Milgram experiment. I've not studied psychology but I would think anyone studying at even A level onwards could reasonably encounter the experiment - especially, but not exclusively in the sciences, social sciences, politics and philosophy.

From that let me address more properly Anonymous' remarks. I'm sorry you thought I was being idiotic in expecting the woman who admitted she knew about the experiment to not participate in it. But I'm still not convinced that realising there was no real person suffering removed the moral issue from consideration. Perhaps their deliberate exploitation of viewers morality/attitudes might have provided 'food for thought' for some about the programme, but I'm not entirely convinced by that argument. You may be; I'm not.

I also think you're being somewhat disingenuous to use a post on this type of TV programme in order to make an anti-government, anti-war protest. I say that chiefly because I'm not sure most people WOULD extrapolate that this demonstration of how mind-manipulation works would link in their minds to how media and governments convey their message. When I said "I would just as rather prefer that we knew that rather than see it demonstrated...", I was thinking solely about seeing people being manipulated to act out a violent crime. Now before you leap in and say that the war against Iraq (and following your comments all interventions that cinclude some level of violence) are themselves "violent crimes" I want to say this: I was specifically referring to this type of violent one-to-one crime. Though it may surprise you, I actually do not have a problem with illustrating how messages are conveyed and convince the public of the reasonableness of unreasonable thinking: but I think that Brown's programme was nowhere near the right vehicle to demonstrate that - either in terms of itself or in your comments on it.

For a variety of reasons, I really do not want to get into a long discussion about my standpoint on Iraq, Iran, 'the war on terror', or Bush and Blair - at least not in this post which I think would trivialise such debates - but I would like to question how the Guardian is "Blair's main pro-war, anti-Muslim propaganda outlet." I think the Guardian's standpoint on the war is at best muddled, especially given the commentary of people like Mad-eleine Bunting taking centrestage to their pages. I think that to call them anti-Muslim is also problematic, not because their pages have never carried anti-Muslim sentiments but because their pages have also carried ridiculously fundamentalist and fascistic views masquerading themselves as simply Muslim views.

I want to stop there, partly because I think a relatively flippant and passing comment on a piece of entertainment television is probably not the best arena to debate these more serious issues and some of the views you accuse me of. [I am more than a litle aware of how television is inherently problematic as a medium to present serious issues: I have read "Amusing Ourselves to Death"] I nevertheless DO recognise that the media and all kinds of bodies use a variety of techniques to convince people of things. I don't think that you can read from my passing remarks on this show to read I would support the extermination of millions in Iran.

Anonymous said...

its quite interesting to read some of your comments but find it hard to take much notice when you cant even spell derren browns name?

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I can only assume that this most recent anonymous poster is not the same as the earlier one (who could not spell DB's name correctly: thankfully I spelt it okay!)