This weekend at GMX I met George Willis, who took part in a reality series called The Colony. The conceit is that a group of people must survive a global catastrophe — in this case, a viral outbreak. They dumped ten people in a Louisiana town near New Orleans that had never been rebuilt and left them to scavenge what they could from the wrecked homes. From time to time the producers sent in other people to steal their precious supplies or, in one case, kidnap one of the core cast.
George had a lot of interesting stories about what it was like to have so little food that he lost forty pounds in two months, or having to build your own forge so you can make machetes. What really caught my attention, though, was his description of how paranoid they all became after having to fight off raids and marauders, and how he and the others are still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “Do you know the Zimbardo experiment?” he said, and it clicked: the Discovery Channel had indeed re-created the Stanford Prison Experiment. It’s nice to know that an experiment that led to new ethical standards for psychological experiments is A-OK for reality TV.
To distract you from how we’re torturing people for entertainment, have some K-Pop. The video for “Can’t Nobody”, by the Korean group 2NE1, mashes up so many pop music trends I can’t stop watching. It’s like a manufactured girl band from the 90s jumped into a Delorean so they could take advantage of Auto-Tuning, crazy costuming, and Ke$ha-like pitch bending. If you’re short on time, skip to 1:28 and watch through about 2:02. That’ll give you a concentrated dose of everything I’m describing, and will let you see dancing Stormtroopers. Culture is weird; culture filtered through someone else’s culture is even weirder.