For Killing the Man in the Booth, You've Won ...
The creepiest arts story of the week doubles nicely as a potent argument for bringing back scripted television shows. Fascinating though it is to discover that our fellow human beings are willing to kill in the service of reality TV, the contemporary confirmation of Stanley Milgram's famous shock-box study is a little disconcerting.
"Eighty people who thought they were participating in the shooting of a pilot for a French reality series were willing to deliver potentially lethal electric shocks to a contestant who had incorrectly answered knowledge questions, according to the documentary, 'The Game of Death,'" Lisa de Moraes writes in a Washington Post column, which also notes several American reality-TV-related deaths.
As Eleanor Beardsley reports on NPR, the setup included "a beautiful and well-known hostess" and "a chanting audience," whose members did not know that "the man in the electric chair was an actor who wasn't really being shocked." Neither, of course, did the would-be contestants, whose main motivation evidently wasn't cash. "As it was only a trial, they were told they wouldn't win anything, but they were given a nominal €40 fee," the BBC explains in a story that includes this disturbing audio clip: