|How did this guy become famous!?|
Below are some short summaries followed by some thoughts:
1) The first show was a made-for-TV documentary called "Inside a Crackhouse." The premise for this documentary was simple: Police outfit a crackhouse with hidden cameras; viewers get to see the inner-workings of a crackhouse. While much of the documentary focuses on the organization and eventual demise of a Chicago-area drug-dealing ring called the "Titanic Stones," there are also small snippets of the film that show how the fall of this drug gang has impacted family members and friends of dealers. For example, one interview features the mother of the gang's leader talking about her own personal addiction to crack and how she feels guilty and responsible for her son's prison sentence.
|A crackhouse in disrepair|
|A Suh family portrait|
--After watching this, I began to think about a great Sociology course I took as an undergraduate at Berkeley. In my 3rd or 4th year, I took an elective course taught by Pulitzer-Prize winning author/Sociologist, Robert Ofshe. The course, which was titled "Thought Reform and Social Control" had one big take-away for me: Individuals, under the right circumstances, are capable of doing unspeakable and crazy acts that they might find morally repugnant in everyday life. For instance, Ofshe showed us videos of false confessions obtained during police interrogations. I distinctly remember him beginning a lecuter by asking, "How many of you would falsely confess to killing someone?" Only a few of the brave raised their hands. Ofshe then responded, "You might be surprised how easy it is to convince a person that they are a murderer." The House of Suh sort of leaps off from this idea: You might be surprised how easy it is to convince someone to murder on your behalf. What do you all think?
|Caught before the act: Chris Hanson interrogating a would-be pedophile|
--This show always reminds me of a famous essay by Erving Goffman, who is one of my favorite sociologists. In a classic essay, "Cooling the Mark Out," Goffman talks about how con artists control the emotional fall-out that a con victim experiences once they've been had. To do this, con artists often employ someone whose main role is to "cool" victims--or more precisely, to get them to smoothly accept the fact that they've fallen for a scheme. I think this is what makes To Catch a Predator so entertaining and painfully awkward to watch. There is no cooling out here. After learning that the jig is up, pedophiles are made to believe that they are entirely free to go. Before exiting, some even thank Chris Hanson and swear that they will never do this again. Then, as they take their first steps out of the sting, pedophiles are abruptly greeted by a swarm of police officers, who tackle the mark onto the ground. Ultimately, there is very little variation in how this all plays out--and yet, it's still endlessly entertaining to watch.
Anyways, that's it from here. If any of you have good recommendations on other reality TV, documentaries, or shows about crime and deviance, I would be interested in hearing from you!