Thursday, October 12, 2006
Veronica Mars screws up the Stanford Prison Experiment
I get that there's something kinda weird about complaining about a show when as far as I know, I'm the only one on my blogsphere who watches it. But I have to say that this week's Veronica Mars really screwed up when they tried to do an episode where some of the characters took part in an experiment that roughly mirrored the Stanford Prison Experiment.
If you're not familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment, basically a researchr at Standford put together a "prison" and assigned students randomly to be "gaurds" and "inmates," then watched them interact.
It got out of hand.
It got out of hand SO QUICKLY, in fact, that soon the researcher himself was acting like a warden trying to prevent a prison break. The students BECAME vindictive gaurds and traumatized prisoners in literally hours.
This is a really important experiment, and one that explains everything about how things like Abu Gharib happen and why the individual soldiers there aren't so much at fault as the people higher up who set up the situation the way they did. When Abu Gharib broke, the prison experiment was the first thing I thought of.
And my favorite show on television really screwed it up.
They did a watered down version where one guy turned really mean and one other guy turned really submissive, but everyone else was more or less their own lovable selves. Ironically, the show's setup was even worse with the "prisoners" knowing the address where a bomb had been left and the "gaurds" charged with finding out that information before the bomb went off and people were killed. I can't imagine what would have happened if the real prison experiment had included that element. I get that it's a TV show, but it really irritated me as I want more people to know about the Stanford Prison Experiment and what it meant.
I suspect the intention of the show was to teach people about the experiment, but I suspect the show will have the opposite effect, teaching them that the experiment went fine.
Anyway, if you'd like more information, please check out the link above.