What Would You Do?
What would you do?
It’s always nice to hear that isn’t it. I get a bit tingly when a friend or The Man tells me about a situation they have going on and they ask me
“What would you do?”
So Saturday night, I had a rare Saturday off, the chicklets were heavily into whatever fodder the Disney channel was churning out,
(Fodder that has Kev saying ‘scandalous’ at the drop of hat)
So I was looking new viewing pleasures online.
To be honest I have scraped the very bottom of the barrel a few times, I’ve been known to scrape the sludge from the very pit of the ancient barrel and I thought Saturday was going to be a sludge scraping night, my expectations were low, I wasn’t looking for much, my motherly work for the day was done, I had a good book waiting for me, I was simply looking for a an hour of mindless viewing before I took myself off to my book.
And I found “What Would You Do?”
The promo mentioned hidden cameras and I immediately thought it would be a chance for me to be my usual judgmental, intolerant, self. Hidden cameras showing idiots being idiots. Perfect pre-bed viewing.
How wrong can a girl be?
As a sort of social experiment, actors set up scenarios in public and hidden cameras filmed people’s reactions to them, basically looking at who would step up and ‘do the right thing’.
The scenarios covered some hot topics like racism, public breastfeeding, gay/lesbian rights, drink driving, domestic violence etc. Many of them taken from cases in the news, where a bad end had come to someone and it’s later revealed that people saw or knew something but said nothing.
They also switched around the actors, dressing them up/down, changing races, and sexes etc to see if this changed people’s reactions.
After each little segment they had experts on the topics or psychologists talking about why people did or didn’t get involved.
Factors like degree of ambiguity in the situation, whether or not the people viewing the situation had had any kind of contact with the ‘victim’, who the viewers were with at the time; all played a part in whether or not people stood up.
They also interviewed both people who did intervene and people who didn’t and asked them why. I should point out here that at no time are people who failed to respond ridiculed or chastised in any way.
In some cases people who had experienced the situation were also involved.
One scene had a white teenager in a park trying to cut through a bicycle lock to steal a bike. He makes it clear the bike is not his and he intends to steal it. Most people walk on by, one man stops to help him; eventually an older couple confronts him.
Next scene, an African American teenager doing the same thing, some people walk by, some people confront him, and several people call the police.
3rd scene, a gorgeous woman is stealing the bike. LOADS of men offer to help her, one guy even ignores his wife, who repeatedly says ‘but she’s stealing it, we should call the police’, he leaps over there and cuts the lock for her!!
Some of the hot topic scenes were quite powerful and emotional,
And it was interesting and comforting to see that there is a sense of ‘we’ out there, the number of people who stepped up and afterwards said ‘we’re all in this together’.
Reminded me of ‘if not me, who? If not now, when?’
There was one particularly powerful scene where the waiter (the actor) was rude and abusive to a lesbian family, asking them to leave the restaurant. So many customers just looked away and interviewed afterwards said,
‘I didn’t want to get involved’
‘It had nothing to do with me’
‘It wasn’t my business.’
Watching it I was reminded of the famous quote by Martin Neimoller
“When they came first for the communists
And I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a communist……”
In two days of playing out the lesbian family scenario over 100 people witnessed the scene and only 6 people spoke up.
It isn’t an exact science and doesn’t claim to be but it is very interesting and makes you wonder because I think we all like to think we’d do the right thing that we’d step up in a flash if a wrong was being committed, if we saw injustice, but would we, when push comes to shove? All those people who did nothing on the programme think of themselves as people who would step up.
The hot topic ones of course I like to think I’d be up in a flash, when it’s clear that there is blatant racism/sexism/violence going on, but in some of the more ambiguous cases, where human nature lets us look around and see if someone else is going to do something, where it appears a terrible wrong is happening but there is margin for error? I just hope I don’t get tested anytime soon.