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:

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