France in uproar over fake game show electrocutions – 4 out 5 contestants opt to kill based on ‘following orders’

A state-run TV channel is stirring controversy with a documentary about a fake game show in which credulous participants obey orders to deliver increasingly powerful electric shocks to a man, who is really an actor, until he appears to die. The producers of “The Game of Death,” broadcast Wednesday night, wanted to examine both what they call TV’s mind-numbing power to suspend morality, and the striking human willingness to obey orders. “Television is a power. We know it, but it’s theoretical,” producer Christophe Nick told the daily Le Parisien. “I wondered: Is it so important that it can turn us into potential executioners?” In the end, more than four in five “players” gave the maximum jolt. While “Le Jeu de la Mort” (The Game of Death) is mainly an indictment of television’s alleged power over society, Nick also takes issue with viewers who let themselves get taken in by today’s TV universe ā€” such as with talk shows. The experiment was based on the work of late psychologist Stanley Milgram, who carried out a now-classic experiment at Yale University in the 1960s. It found that most ordinary people ā€” if encouraged by an authoritative-seeming scientist ā€” would administer ostensibly dangerous electric shocks to others. France-2 billed the fake game show as the subject of a sociological and psychological documentary, and added a warning: “What we are going to watch is extremely tough. But it’s only television.”


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