Sunday, September 21, 2008

For the Law & Order SVU fans

Hello everyone,
Yes, I am posting at midnight on a Saturday night. I was just finishing up watching another Saturday of college football (including a Vandy victory to stay undefeated) when I stumbled upon yet another episode of Law & Order SVU on USA. I promise I am not just telling you all what I do on the weekends for no good reason. In this particular episode, Robin Williams makes an appearance as a very disturbed individual who believed that everyone in society has become "sheep" following "shepherds," doing as they are told and never questioning the system. As the show progresses, he takes one of the detectives, Olivia Benson, hostage. When her partner arrives, Robin Williams demands that he participate in a "real" version of the Milgram experiment or else Williams will blow up the entire building. He says that the only way he will let them both go is if the detective presses the button to shock his partner. The detective continually refuses to participate and Williams eventually confesses that the button did not actually shock her and that there was no bomb in the building. Williams also thanked the detective for being a "human," because in his past experience, cops and doctors were the ones who most abused the power as "shepherds." Just in case you were wondering how the show ends, Williams does actually blow up the building once the three of them are safely outside, which allowed him to escape their custody.

I thought it was interesting to see the Milgram experiment show up in a current, very popular television show and wanted to share my viewing experience with all of you. I hope everyone is having a great weekend and I will see you all on Wednesday.

1 comment:

  1. In analyzing the situation above as it were real, the personal relationship between Benson and her partner could have certainly thwarted the press of the shock button. The abrupt command administered by Williams, "Press the button to shock your partner!" is not a gradual buildup of tension experienced by individuals when placed in a seemingly harmless encounter, as demonstrated by Milgram. These willing individuals were deceived/framed into a situation where the student seemed to be at fault when he/she answered incorrectly. Thus, there presented a valid reason to inflict punishment when the student was wrong, other than as an order issued by Milgram. Upon initial entrance to the experiment room, the participants did not feel the stress of imminent threat. Interestingly, they flipped the shock switches across the board, consciously injuring strangers they have never met. And perhaps, the situation of a sudden attack on the mind of Benson's partner in this modern reenactment conjures up valiance and other qualities that add a twist to the dimension of Milgram's results, indicating that we may be as kind as we may be cruel. After all, isn't it contextual?


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