Running Diary of “A Quiet Rage”

For class, we were assigned with watching  “A Quiet Rage”, which is a documentary about Phil Zimbardo’s classic/infamous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. With a study this important, and a video so dated, how could I not keep a running diary (I know, cliche at this point) of my experience watching this?

1:50: The bell tone to kick off this great synth intro music lets you know that, yes indeed, this was not made in the last 15 years.

4:00: Nice hair, everyone. Hello 70s.

4:15: They so one-taked this part.

5:21: All laughs now from the guards in the guard orientation, but we all know where this is going.

5:54: Surprise nudity!

6:30: Music has been fantastic. Also…that guy looked pretty happy to get fake-arrested.

7:25: I wonder how difficult it was to explain to the unwitting neighbors that you didn’t really get arrested?

9:00: “To interact with the prisoners and establish control” And also abuse them.

10:17: Barricading yourselves in the cells, huh? That’s not exactly a brilliant rebellion by the prisoners.

11:05: Yelling “It’s a simulated experiment” didn’t seem to work out too great for that guy.

11:56: “One guard came up with the idea of using psychological tactics” And that guy was a big jerk.

12:35: Mustache!

13:45: Nice…you had the ex-con ridicule the subject racially. Was there an IRB in the 70s?

14:40: I guess there wasn’t a “leave at any time” part of the experiment. That seems like that won’t fly anymore, but it does simulate the prison experience more accurately.

15:45: Wow, the prisoner turned himself crazy, now that’s a twist. A chilling one.

16:30: Zimbardo, you would make a hell of a prison superintendent. Messing with the parents’ visit, tricking them into thinking the prison was a nice place to be. Clever.

18:51: There are much less funny things to say about this the further you go into the video.

21:16: What? Did they actually hire lawyers? They really worked hard on the external validity of this experiment.

22:16: I’m hoping for some more Zimbardo reflection on his role in this. How complicit does he think he is?

24:39: One of those prisoners is really cranking out the pushups, he’d be the guy who lives in the prison workout yard.

25:44: And the fourth type of guards, “guards with awesome beards.”

27:05: The prisoner was referring to himself in the third person…as his prisoner number. Wow.

29:20: I’m half-expecting “Your name…is…TOBY!” at this point, especially with Blonde Sunglasses guard’s obviously fake Southern accent.

30:45: Did Blonde Sunglasses guard adopt a completely different accent? Also, how many bad prison movies did he watch before this experiment?

32:31: And there’s the reflective parts. Good job compassionate graduate student!

33:04: Now we get the complicit-in-suffering-by-accepting-it-as-reality list: parents, priest, the random public defender, the ex-con turned fake parole officer, guards, prisoners, and of course, the experimenters.

35:38: They really couldn’t drum up fake crimes that they got arrested for?

36:18: That guy genuinely thought he could manage being in prison?

39:06: That former guard is sitting way too close to the former prisoner subject in the conversation. They might either hug or fight.

40:37: That’s a pretty twisted mini-experiment by the guard, he is BS-ing real hard to not look like a jerk in front of the camera.

46:00 “It was unethical.” Yup, Zimbardo, you nailed it. He’s actually spot on, which was that he gave himself too much of an in-character role in the experiment.

48:00 Zimbardo talks about the power of the situation, but he’s actually noting a lot of individual differences in how the prisoners and guards handled it.

49:00: And…heavy synth credits music, naturally.

Despite running an unethical study, Zimbardo is not a completely limited thinker. Just so you don’t think he is all bad, I’ll link to a video of his research that isn’t about prisons at all:



Welcome to my blog! It’s really a blog for my PSYC224 class, Social Psychology, but if all goes well, other people might be reading it to, so all are welcome. If you’re curious about the name, “The Crowd Mind”, it comes from the textbook for the class, which mentions that social psychology has its roots in ancient philosophers like Plato, who specifically pondered the idea of “the crowd mind.” I quite like that phrase, so I adopted it for this blog. My posts here will be on various aspects of social psychology, usually reactions to what we are reading or discussing in class, but I’ll give myself the occasional liberty to run with a topic. So I hope you enjoy!