Wednesday, August 29, 2012
There is a new film out, but as it's an indie, it will only be playing in the cities and it'll be a few months before I'm able to catch it. But it looks very compelling, and it's based on an incident that happened nearly ten years ago, that I'd never heard about, but it highlights one of those things about humanity that we don't want to believe it's true, and that reflects on our society now more than it has in some time.
The film is called "Compliance", and it's based on an incident that happened at a McDonald's in Kentucky back in 2004; similar hoaxes took place in the preceding years at around 70 other restaurants throughout the country. A man called the McDonald's, and told an assistant manager that he was a police officer that was investigating a theft committed by a co-worker at the restaurant. After some gentle prodding and bullshitting (the 'officer' was held up and could not get to the restaurant right away), the assistant manager agreed to search her employee and her belongings. When she finds nothing, the caller becomes more demanding, and events quickly escalate and spiral out of control for everybody except the caller.
This article that was published shortly after the event happened is probably the best source for the events that happened outside of the movie itself, but I feel that it serves as an example for how easy it is to control people and make someone, even who on the surface you believe is a "good" person, do some pretty monstrous things just because they are instructed to by someone who they deem as an authority figure. Of course, there are other examples throughout history (the "I was just following orders" defense that was popular at the judgment at Nuremberg came immediately to mind for me), but this other article that I read that references the film brings more modern examples to mind.
Take some of the things that our politicians tell us, like Bush the Second telling us "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq or that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or that the planet isn't getting warmer, or that Obama's birth certificate was forged. All of these statements are swallowed up, unremittingly, by countless people without any questioning or investigation. I know that many who are familiar with this case will tell themselves that these managers who consented to the caller and conducted strip searches and acts of a sexual nature lacked common sense and will say, "what do you expect? They managed a McDonald's or an Applebees franchise". But when we speak of the political junkies, who accept the above examples as scripture because they come from the party they like, are they really that different? In both cases, they are furthering someone's agenda because they are being told to, and in the process, seem to be exercising little common sense or independent thought. Of course, please don't take what I'm saying as a statement that denying climate change because Newt Gingrich told you to, is the same as patting down and touching a girl's breasts because a guy on the phone playing cop told someone else to.
Anyway, a little food for thought. I really want to stay and keep talking, but the gym beckons, have not gone in a week or so.