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    The oppression of authority: see 'The Stanford Prison Experiment' at Village 8
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    The psychology of authority is an interesting thing – and more than a little troubling. We grow up learning to respect authority: obey your parents; obey your teachers; obey your boss; obey the law and its enforcers. Studies and insights into the phenomenon of authority are at the same time fascinating and terrifying. Any high school student, for example, knows about the experiments of Stanley Milgram, in which the individuals being tested believed they were administering higher and higher doses to electricity to screaming victims, all because a man in a lab coat told them to. Outside the realm of science, many probably remember the Mount Washington McDonald’s incident from several years ago, wherein a female employee was made to strip and perform sexual acts, all because a man on the phone who she never actually saw convinced her that he was a law enforcement officer and she was afraid to disobey.

    There is also, of course, the Stanford Prison Experiment held in 1971 by Philip Zimbardo, professor of psychology. In this experiment, Zimbardo divided his students into two groups – guards and prisoners – for a prison simulation. It didn’t take long at all for the students to eerily settle into their roles, with some startling and frightening results. The experiment was, naturally, highly controversial, but we learned a lot.

    The story of this experiment has been adapted into a film, fittingly titled The Stanford Prison Experiment, starring Billy Crudup as Zimbardo, written by Tim Talbott, and directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. Zimbardo himself actually consulted on the film, so hopes for accuracy are high. The Stanford Prison Experiment opens today, Friday, July 31, at Village 8 Theater as part of the Louisville Exclusives series. Village 8 is located at 4014 Dutchmans Lane. See the theater website for showtimes.

    (Side note: for a fascinating and disturbing film adaptation of the McDonald’s incident, check out Craig Zobel’s Compliance, available on Netflix.)

    Image: IMDB

    Allan Day's picture

    About Allan Day

    There are legitimate theories that the Big Bang originated from the collapse of a black hole in a fourth-dimensional universe. This stuff fascinates me, and I love reading about it. I love reading about science. And about anything, for that matter, provided it's interesting - and everything is potentially interesting, so I'm fascinated by a lot of things. I also read a lot of fiction (Kurt Vonnegut deserves deification) and watch a lot of movies (Charlie Chaplin also deserves deification). I've made a few short films myself. I'm also a writer of everything - I'm close to a Bachelor's in English at IUS. My life consists of reading, writing, bartending, and taking care of my daughter full-time. Life is busy and life is stressful, but that's why there's music and art and other forms of relaxation.

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