Behind the mask..

So a few weeks ago Derren Brown, the King of misdirection, showmanship, suggestion and illusion, did a programme called ‘The Gameshow’, which was one of a four part series called ‘The Experiments’.

Imagine a packed house, and an audience that think they are on a ‘gameshow’. Derren is the host, and he asks that the audience wear masks for the duration of the show. They are also given a remote control, which Derren explains will be used during the show. The shows premise is that there is a guy, a normal guy, who will have his fate decided by the audience. The guy’s friends are part of the ‘experiment’, there are also actors, which will become clearer later.

So masks on, remotes in hand, the audience watch a big screen where our guy is sitting in a pub, at the bar with two mates. At this point, the barman, a couple, and a woman at the bar are all wearing earpieces, awaiting instruction.

The first choice for our audience is;

  1. The guy gets chatted up by woman at the bar
  2. The woman who’s part of the couple accuses guy of ‘touching her up’.

The audience vote, using their remotes, and I think about 60 odd percent went for option 2. We then have the woman shouting, our guy apologising for something he hasn’t done, and the woman’s partner threatening violence. When it all looks real enough Derren asks that everything calm down.

The second choice is that;

  1. Guy will get free drinks
  2. Guy will be accused by barman of not paying for previous drinks.

Again, the audience vote and option 2 is chosen. So after a bemused argument with the barman, our guy and his mates decide to give up and go home..

Our guy’s mistake at this point was going into a shop to buy Scooby snacks, whereby option 2 was ‘get accused of shoplifting’.

The choices that the audience were given became increasingly more horrible, yet the majority always went for the bad option, not the good. The culmination of which was kidnap. Our guy is thrown into the back of a van, but eventually escapes, runs away and gets hit, very hard, by a car.. He does not move..

We are brought back to the studio, where the audience are obviously shocked and dismayed. Derren is seen trying to deal with a situation that has gone terribly wrong. People start to take off masks and there is much confusion.

My favourite part, was one woman who after taking off her mask, suddenly realised that she was identifiable, and uttered “do you think it’s appropriate to still be filming?” (What she was thinking is clearly just my opinion, btw)

Yes it was appropriate.. Because you guys, the audience, were the experiment!

It was all about ‘Deindividuation’, pack mentality, mob mentality etc. The majority of these people chose option 2 every time, I am assuming because they could not be identified, saw the group voting a certain way, and the voting was anonymous.

There was a line, as far as I’m concerned and the majority didn’t just step over it, they leapt. We didn’t know how individuals voted but I’m certain I could see it in their faces. They looked like they had just been told “Think about what you’ve done!” Which is something I suppose..

Before you keel over, I should say that AFTER the escape was all staged.. A stunt man was brought in to be hit by the car, very hard. Whilst our guy was probably at home eating his Scooby snacks! Hope he got a years supply from Derren! Eventually the audience were told about the staged part, and the fact that they were the experiment..

The way the most of the audience behaved reminds me of the ‘trolls’ on the internet who write mean stuff to other people from behind a screen.. Mask/screen same difference? Derren probably linked the internet with his experiment, but if he did I missed it, because I was thinking.. About the experiment!

If I had been part of this ‘gameshow’, I know that I would have wanted nice things to happen, mask or not. I like to be different! What would you have done??

Behind the mask..

4 thoughts on “Behind the mask..

    1. RayKay57 says:

      So true, but do those people have empathy? Or can they switch it on and off at will? I think most of us are guided by how we would feel if something was done to us, but obviously not all!


  1. This post made me squirm!! These social psychology experiments have been going on for years since the Holocaust because people wanted to learn how/why we humans could have been a part of a tragedy of such a large scale. All we’ve learned is that mob mentality and anonymity will make seemingly normal, good people do bad things.

    It helps to recognize this pattern and change our responses on an individual level. Oftentimes it takes just one person to speak up to break the spell of the mob. If everyone aims to be that person, I think good change can happen. 🙂


    1. RayKay57 says:

      You have much wisdom Gilly! I think the sticking point though is people only considering what’s good for them. We maybe would have zero murders if the murderer considered how his/her own mother would feel if the boot was on the other foot.


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