If you’ve heard of the Milgram experiment, you can guess where this is going. If you haven’t heard of the Milgram experiment, you’re about to learn something that you’d really rather not know.
In Japan, of course, this would be a real game and not a simulation.
Milgram found that 62.5% of his subjects could be encouraged, browbeaten or intimidated into seeing the test through to its conclusion by delivering scores of shocks of increasing intensity to the maximum of 450 volts. In Game of Death, 81% of contestants went all the way by administering more than 20 shocks up to a maximum of 460 volts. Only 16 of the 80 subjects recruited for the fake game show refused the verbal prodding from the host – and pressure from the audience to keep dishing out the torture like a good sport – though most expressed misgivings or tried to pull out before being convinced otherwise…
“For the past 10 years, most commercial channels have used humiliation, violence and cruelty to create increasingly extreme programs,” Nick says in one of his voice-overs. “[Future] television can – without possible opposition – organize the death of a person as entertainment, and eight out of 10 people will submit to that.”
Says one media critic, “The Milgram experiment showed that people will submit to authority no matter what its form: military, political, medical, a boss – or now a television host.” The original experiment is almost 50 years old, which led some to wonder if the results were an artifact of their time or whether this response is more constant in human psychology. That question was answered last year in a lab setting, but evidently having a TV camera stuck in your face while you turn the dial up doesn’t do much to change the result.