Sometimes, I’m too lazy even to change channels with the remote control, sad but … well just sad really. Anyway, a couple of nights ago was one such night and the familiar face of TV hypnotist Derren Brown introduced a programme by telling us that by the end of the show he will have made a few unsuspecting joe public volunteers rob a security van.
‘Give me a break’, my brain was telling my remote control hand but to no avail, remote control hand remained motionless. My brain began to switch off and prepared to crawl away towards some quite and peaceful part of my subconcious where it could re-run it’s favourite episodes of
Tomorrow’s World (Benny Hill more like — brain). Afterall, weren’t these just another bunch of nobodies looking for their fifteen nanoseconds of fame and wasn’t the hypnotism just a gimmicky variation in an otherwise thoroughly worn out reality-tv format? … Wasn’t it?
Well actually it wasn’t.
Brain was dragged kicking and screaming back to reality-tv world when Derren Brown began subjecting his subjects to a Milgram experiment in order to see who amongst them was most susceptible to suggestion.
Stanley Milgram was a post WWII American psycholgist who conducted a series of ground-breaking and somewhat disturbing experiments where he showed that under the right circumstances ordinary people could be persuaded to do some fairly ‘evil’ things. Thus going some way towards explaining the mass delusions that can grip any compliant group (or population) and which compels them to accept leaders who butcher, maime and torture, as long as inflation stays low or trains run on time or guarantee them virgins or whatever it take to not rock their blinkered boats.
Well you can imagine how this all fits in with the intent of the TV show and indeed there were a handful of the original subjects who were ‘programmed’ by the careful use of suggestion into actually robbing an armoured van. All of which was staged but the subject’s didn’t know that at the time.
The programme makers were careful not to comment directly regarding society’s current fears about ‘home-grown’ terrorists but clips of Osama bin Laden et al ensured that an inference was easily there to be made. At the end of the show the end credits reassured us that Derren Brown and a team of crack psychologists were on hand to de-programme the erstwhile robbers.
I wonder if Derren Brown’s ever been to Downing Street.