ABC is back at it with their hidden cameras series, “What Would You Do?” They put actors in provocative situations and use hidden cameras to see how people react.
Alan Funt, this aint. “Candid Camera“ was a fun show where people laughed when caught in funny and embarrassing situations. “What Would You Do?” has a clear social agenda where they seek to find and expose people’s racial, sexual and personal prejudices.
I must say this, the reporter, John Quinones is a nice guy. We spent some time on the news set together when he came to Las Vegas while doing a story on a polygamist colony in Arizona. We talked live on air about his segment and then chatted after. You would be hard pressed to find a nicer guy in the business, but he clearly has an agenda here—he is an activist. Fine, it is what it is and that’s how the show is formatted. ABC has chosen which groups to protect and which groups to expose and they will do it in prime time.
Here are some of the recent scenarios where they used actors to get reactions from real people:
A Muslim woman attempts to buy some items from a bakery and a rude and prejudiced cashier makes bigoted comments to her.
Homosexual parents take their children to a restaurant.
Homosexual partners kiss in public.
Racial profiling of Hispanics in a restaurant in Arizona. This segment was done in opposition to Arizona’s Immigration Law (1070) and the scenario they posed would not have been allowed by the law, but not to bother, they did it anyway. They showed the security guard demanding “ID, documentation and papers” without cause. The Arizona law doesn’t allow that and ABC has to know that, but they presented the scenario as permissible under 1070.
The show admits a social agenda, but there is a clear political agenda as well.
Which reminds me, NBC used similar tactics when it sent hidden cameras and “Muslim-looking” men to a NASCAR race to record instances of prejudice after 9/11. I can hear the producers at NBC sitting in a meeting planning that segment, “Hell, those NASCAR fans are a bunch of drunk, fat, white guys who hate anybody who’s not like them, we’ll get some great video!” If they didn’t say it, they thought it. I’ve been in those meetings where similar things have been planned. Like the ABC show, you must first come from the position that the prejudice is there, or why would you set up these scenarios in the first place? Does that not show prejudice also?
Here’s an example, NBC: send a “Muslin-looking” man into your studio yelling “Allah Akbar” with a fake suicide bomber vest a couple minutes before the evening newscast. Let’s see how Brian Williams and the crew react. Tape it and put it on air and see if we find prejudice. Use a Muslim comedian for this and he can tell bomber jokes to the crew afterwards. They’ll love it and we can all enjoy the good laugh together.
On the ABC show, they actually ask for scenario suggestions. John is welcome to use the one above, but if that’s too revealing, try this one:
Go in to the ABC newsroom and tell the reporters and anchors that you have uncovered Barack Obama’s academic records and you have found that he had horrible grades, never attended class, and his Masters thesis was on his love for the Communist Manifesto. Break the news to them that you have evidence showing Obama is not as smart as they thought he was. Make it clear that this information will kill Obama’s chances for re-election. Tell them that they are the only other person who knows this information and see how many of them will join you in keeping the damaging information under wraps.
See how Dianne Sawyer, George Stephanopolus, Robin Roberts and others react and put it all on TV. It would be fun to see what they do. Will they try to stop the story from being aired, will they say you’re making it up, will they break down in tears? After you get their candid reaction you can laugh and say you were just joking. Ratings through the roof! February Book!
Or try this one, do a segment and tie it into Fast and Furious. Have an actor pose as a Federal Agent and Obama Minion. He’s at a restaurant selling guns to another actor who is posing as a drug dealer and gun runner to Mexico. See if people try to stop the deal or if they follow what the Obama administration did and encourage, assist and complete the transaction. The ideas are limitless here.
Or, here’s another suggestion for you. Get actors who look like those polygamists you saw in Colorado City, Arizona and take them to the barrios of East LA (that’s my old homeland) or perhaps South Central LA (where I worked at one of my first jobs.) I love these areas, I can help you with this. Have them try to buy property to set up a polygamist colony and see what happens. Think of the promos! This would be a real hoot! Hey, it’s not too late to get this done for the February ratings period.
Step it up! We could have a lot of fun with this show. What will you do, John Quinones?