Contestants turn torturers in French TV experiment
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
Posted: March 25th, 2010
"The Game of Death" has all the trappings of a traditional television quiz show, with a roaring crowd and a glamorous and well-known hostess urging the players on under gaudy studio lights. But the contestants did not know they were taking part in an experiment to find out whether television could push them to outrageous lengths, and which has prompted comparisons with the atrocities of Nazi Germany. "We were amazed to find that 81 percent of the participants obeyed" the sadistic orders of the television presenter, said Christophe Nick, the maker of the documentary for the state-owned France 2 channel. "They are not equipped to disobey," he added. The game: posing questions to another "player" and punishing him with up to 460 volts of electricity when he gets them wrong -- even until his cries of "Let me go!" fall silent and he appears to have died. Not knowing that the screaming victim is really an actor, the apparently reluctant contestants yield to the orders of the presenter and chants of "Punishment!" from a studio audience who also believed the game was real. Nick said 80 percent of the contestants went all the way, zapping the victim with the maximum 460 volts until he appeared to die. Out of 80 players, just 16 walked out. "When it decides to abuse its power, television can do anything to anybody," said Nick. "It has an absolutely terrifying power."
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