WHERE: “The Game of Death” on French public television
WHAT: The government-run France-2 TV channel stirred national angst with a fake game show where trusting participants obeyed orders to deliver increasingly powerful electric shocks to an unseen man — who was really an actor — until he appeared to die. More than four in five “players,” whose identities were hidden, gave the maximum voltage.
WHY: The stunt was based on a classic 1960s Yale University experiment that found most ordinary people — if encouraged by an authority figure— would obey orders to inflict supposedly dangerous electric shocks. On the show, the host was a well-liked TV weatherwoman and the studio audience loudly cheered for more pain.
EUROPEAN SHOCK TV: A real 2007 Netherlands game show gave a kidney transplant as the top prize. Critics denounced it as gross, but at least in the next month three times more kidney donors than usual signed up.