English mentalist Derren Brown has returned with a new show meant to test the limits of our social compliance; our ability to follow the crowd, to obey authority figures, which according to Brown “can also push people to commit terrible acts“.
Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge, which premiered last night at 9 p.m on Channel 4, saw unsuspecting participants subliminally influenced into compliance and follows Brown’s usual formula of meticulously planned and executed scenarios, all culminating in the big finale of whether or not participants would push a man off a roof.
The hour long episode sees unknowing test subject Chris Kingston embroiled in a series of staged events in which he hides the dead body of a rich benefactor and impersonates said benefactor, all while Brown slowly turns up the heat until he is eventually forced to make a choice of whether to push a man off a roof; which, to his credit, he doesn’t (and was the only participant not to do so).
Brown is well known for his elaborate and psychologically manipulative experiments, with shows in the past entailing everything from a fake zombie apocalypse to convincing old age pensioners to commit art theft, but viewers have criticized his latest stunt as being “uncomfortable” and “disgusting“.
I wonder how Derren Brown managed to gain ethical approval for Pushed to the Edge when I struggled for an observation study #DerrenBrown
— Meg Broadley (@meggy449) January 13, 2016
There are many who are skeptical of Brown’s experiments, but this time even some of his fans seemed taken aback by the extent of his latest ploy.
I'm usually a Derren Brown fan but this programme is just cruel #DerrenBrown
— Jemma (@JemRutter) January 12, 2016