The justice gene—I’ve got it. I swear I was born fully clothed in a bright-colored, monogrammed leotard with a cape tied around my neck. It’s no surprise that I love the TV show What Would You Do? hosted by John Quiñones. If you haven’t seen it, Quiñones sets up a controversial scenario using actors and then films to see what passersby will do. My eleven-year-old took an interest as well, and it’s become our Friday night family ritual, complete with black-and-white cookies, tea, and discussion period afterward (and sometimes during, as we get heated up by what happens or doesn’t happen on screen.) For example:
When attempting to steal a bicycle by sawing through the chain or cutting through the lock, please note:
- If you are a white guy, no one will pay you much notice
- If you are a black guy, an angry mob will surround you
- If you are a blonde woman, you will have instant male accomplices
This isn’t my opinion. These are the facts from a recent show that completely shocked me. The racial bit wasn’t surprising, unfortunately. What astounded me was the number of men willing to help that pretty, blonde woman after she admitted she was stealing the bicycle. And then, though they could have requested to have their faces blocked in the edited episode, they didn’t. They were proud of helping her steal the bike. These must be the same sort of men who find themselves tied to the posts of a hotel bed while the hot chick leaves with their clothes, jewelry, and wallet.
Another fascinating fact: In the potentially dangerous scenarios (e.g., an older teenaged male pushing around his girlfriend), it is often a little woman with a lioness’s roar who comes to the aid of the victim, while a strapping guy in the background shuffles around trying to decide if he wants to get involved or not. I would bet that most of these women are mothers.
Then there are the episodes in which the apathy is downright scary. In one, a group of men at a bar laugh as they watch a woman slip a drug into her date’s drink. In reverse, they would have jumped to the aid of a woman being drugged unknowingly, but when it was a guy, it was funny. Is it that elbow-in-the-ribs, wink-wink machismo that prevents them from helping out one of their own? Did they assume she had sexual intentions and not murderous ones? And that it would be okay or cool for a woman to take advantage of a man? I have no answers, but I suspect it’s this same elbow-in-the-ribs, wink-wink machismo that decides it would be fun to get a bunch of fraternity pledges near-dead drunk and then pile them into a car trunk. Just saying.
I wonder how people can walk by another in need and not stop to help. On a bright note, I’ve noticed that as more shows air, the response from onlookers is better. Perhaps more people are watching and waking up to the idea that we share a responsibility to take care of our fellow man. We’re not all brave enough to step into the middle of the action, and many times that isn’t advisable anyway, but how about calling the police when necessary? We can all do that.
At the end of the show, Quiñones interviews the people who stepped forward to assist. In 100% of the cases, they deny they’re heroes. They are simply human beings doing the right thing. Amen to that.
Tomorrow night (Tuesday) is a different type of show based on ideas submitted by viewers, and it takes you behind the scenes. They’ve decided to air this one at 10 PM, perhaps due to the subject matter of one of the set-ups. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll let the wee one watch this time. I hope this special edition lives up to the regular weekly show. Regardless, I’ll have fun watching my friend Peter D Michael as one of the undercover actors. Go Petie!