The Stanford Prison Experiment is a 2015 movie directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. It is based on Philip Zimbardo's 1971 experiment where 20 college-aged subjects were divided into guards and inmates and simulated a prison in an unused campus building. The experiment is famous for exposing how easy it is for healthy individuals to become abusive and violent. While the movie promotes this as Zimbardo's conclusions, the movie also confirms points his critics made about the experiment, namely that Zimbardo's design and execution of the experiment had as much to do with its results as "human nature."
I particularly remember two scenes. The first is Zimbardo's orientation meeting with the guards, where he told them they were better than other people. In the interview process, all prospective subjects had expressed a preference to be an inmate.
CW's Containment Will Make You Scared of ... Brown People!
These comments are based on watching the first two episodes of The CW Network series "Containment."
- Within the first several minutes of the first episode, we learn that an undocumented Syrian had left the hospital with symptoms. I stopped watching and Googled "cw containment syrian illegal alien" to see if anybody besides me found this troubling. That's when I found the xenophobic article below.
- I should preface the remainder of this by emphasizing that I'm not attacking any of the actors who appear in this series. If I was offered a 10 second non-speaking role in a basic cable drama series as a suicide-vest wearing terrorist Arab playboy with a sombrero riding a donkey made up in blackface with a stack of TVs behind me while eating watermelon, I'd jump at the opportunity. I know it's that bad for non-white actors in Hollywood.
- I then searched in Twitter to see if anybody else noticed this. Thankfully, several others found the association of a deadly outbreak with an undocumented immigrant troubling.
- I watched the remainder of episode 1, and I thought other aspects of the show promoted anti-Arab sentiments.
- Khadijah Ennazer reviewed episode 1 of the show, mentioning her fear that the show would promote hostility towards Arabs and immigrants. One of the show's writers, Julie Plec, promises that the series will not go that route.
- I do some ranting against Hollywood, this time for how it employs actors to play "ethnic" roles.
- I started to watch episode 2.
- Here's an attempt to evaluate the show from a public health perspective. Sadly, it leaves out the ethnic, xenophobic bias at the center of the plot.
- I hope you're not going to react to this by thinking, "It's a TV show. Nobody takes this seriously. Chill."
- I've written about ethnic, racial and religious stereotyping in numerous TV shows and movies.
- Finish this by listening to the Public Enemy classic, "Burn, Hollywood, Burn!".