Primetime: What Would You Do? I stayed in on Friday night and stumbled upon the show and it certainly got me thinking. I had a lot of reactions to what I was watching. At first I was outraged (in fact, I still harbor some outrage, but I’m not so sure for the right reasons). If you follow me on twitter than you might know that I called it hypocritical and voyeuristic. I don‘t think hypocritical is really the word I was looking for, but I’ll definitely stick with voyeuristic.
If you haven’t seen the show, it’s a basic hidden camera show that sets up unknowing people in situations being led by actors. A few situations I saw on Friday were a baby left alone in a hot car, a black woman being accosted by salespeople at a boutique, including being frisked and told that their “type” is always the problem, a gay couple with their children being asked to leave a restaurant they were dining in solely because they are gay.
I have to say I was incredibly moved many times during the episode. And I’m not sure why. Or maybe I should say I’m not sure I want to admit why.
It was a combination of pride and admiration for those that stood up and spoke out about the injustice; shame and judgment against those that did nothing; and fear that I would do the same.
My problem with the show is it’s quite presumptuous that the people running the show would always do and know the right thing. In fact, they all seem quite judgmental. It’s easy to say that you’d stick up for what’s right when you don’t actually have to do it. And proceed to look down your nose at those who do not. I’m looking at you, John Quinones.
The best parts are when strangers do something incredible: they stick up for other strangers. One of the most moving moments was when a middle-aged man spoke up for the two lesbian partners with their children. He was articulate and kind and said all of the things I would never think of saying in the heat of the moment. Only to be outdone when he found out it wasn’t real and refused to call what he did heroic because the only person he wants to be a hero to is his son. Furthermore, his parents were Holocaust survivors and he said something like that only happens because strangers don’t speak up. Picture me in a puddle of tears.
It’s amazing to see humanity at its best.
My fear is that I wouldn’t do the same. A lot of people did nothing and in the post-interview threw around the phrase “it’s none of my business.” And, interestingly enough, a large percentage of the people shown speaking up were not American. I wonder if the keep-to-yourself culture we’ve created for ourselves has rendered us inhumane.
I certainly hope not.