ABC’s Primetime TV Show What Would You Do?

30 07 2010

http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/

My friends mentioned this show to me a few weeks back and I’d never heard of it.  Since then, I’ve caught two episodes and I cannot decide if I like it or not.  They set up scenarios played out by actors and watch the public’s reactions.  

Some examples:

Confused older man looking for his car to drive – They did this with him alone and then with his two small granddaughters scared to get in the car with him.
Shoplifters
Discriminating Realtor
Teenagers destroying someone’s car in the park
Three guys beating up another guy on the street
15-year-old girl in a restaurant obviously being forced into a polygamist marriage
Cell phone etiquette in a restaurant
Child predator at a playground

I enjoy hidden camera shows and pranks.  Shows like Girls Behaving Badly and Candid Camera crack me up but those shows are focused on the laughs.  Not everyone’s sense of humor is on the same level, I know.  Some jokes may be a little crude for some people.  But more often than not, no one is going to be emotionally challenged or severely offended.  That’s where the show on ABC’s Primetime is certainly different.

Some of the scenarios I’ve watched have created strong emotional reactions from those either getting involved or just witnessing the acts.

I appreciate facts and the truth of human behavior, I do.  I realize there’s probably no better way to gauge our reactions other than to do studies like these, but I cannot help but wonder if it’s truly necessary.

I think most people can agree that no matter how far we’ve come as a society there are still prejudices in our lives.  Not to mention new types of people trying to live their lives that we can now discriminate against.

It was really no surprise to me that people were more willing to act when the African-American boys were vandalizing the vehicle than when the Caucasian boys were doing the same exact thing.  We haven’t really come as far as we’d like to think about equality and judging others on the color of their skin or the accent in their voice.  I don’t believe I would have intervened in either instance, but I do know that I would have called the cops.  Speaking of, I was completely APPALLED at the unbelievably insane 911 call on the African-American boys that were sleeping in their car.  The caller said they thought the boys were going to rob someone!  (WTH?) 

In most of these scenarios, I know I would be the type of person to call the police or tell the authority figure present.  I’m not much of a “put myself in the middle physically” due to too many Law & Order, Bones, and CSI’s I’ve watched.  But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be someone who would turn a blind eye completely if someone was breaking the law.

I think the cell phone etiquette, the shoplifters and the confused older man getting into his car were more on the tame side of their scenarios but they still produced shaken up witnesses.  The ones that really rub me the wrong way were the discriminating realtor, the man being beaten by 3 guys, the child predator on the playground and the 15-year-old being forced into polygamy.  These scenes were hard enough to watch on TV and know they are not real.  I kept imagining being there and not knowing.  The instincts would kick in to protect the children and your heart would break hearing the terrible comments being made to another human being for just being from a different place or being a different color.  Can you imagine?  Some of the people who they interview were crying afterwards.  They were emotionally touched and ready to physically react.  I don’t really agree with this part of the show.

I wonder if they make an effort to locate ALL the people that passed by?  Taking on that fear and uneasy feelings, parents would be afraid to take their children to their neighborhood playground, individuals would be too afraid to walk down that particular Street in fear of abuse and an overall terrible experience could be etched in their minds.  These are some serious scenarios playing out in front of all to see.  Do the producers ensure the well-being of all – including the children – witnessing these acts?  I find that hard to believe.  In the instance of the 3 men beating another, they would have had to stop every single car that passed in order to tell them what they saw was not real.

In writing this post, I believe I’ve answered my own question.  I think this show goes a little too far for my comfort level and I’m not sure I’ll be watching again.

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