Last night Suzanne and I watched a film called "Compliance". It was disturbing on a few different levels, but I want to write about the social implications I got out of it. The way it’s described on Netflix is… “Based on a true incident, this tense drama unfolds as a prank caller pretends to be a cop and convinces a restaurant manager to interrogate her teenaged employee about a supposed theft from a customer -- a situation that soon spins out of control.”
The “cop” mentioned above uses his authority to get the manager of the fast food joint to do his bidding, by manipulating her into seeing him as a major authority figure. He does the same thing with all the people he speaks with on the phone. Even the girl who is in fact, the victim of this prank becomes (as if hypnotized) convinced by him that she should “comply” with what he wants to happen. This smells of what you see in the USA right now, in regard to the “WAR ON TERROR” and the threat of “MUSHROOM CLOUDS” spoken of repeatedly in the buildup of the military activities in the Mideast. Keep in mind where she is in the power structure of a fast food joint.
There is a boy (peer) who also works at the restaurant who shows enough doubt about the cop’s authority, as to be eliminated from the fiasco altogether, after a little involvement. He represents to me someone who is beginning to question authority, but doesn’t exactly buck the system either. He left it to others. Man, do I know a LOT of people like him! They are unwilling to act when they see something that is obviously wrong to them. These folks are full of fear. Like a big part of the population in America.
The girl allows these restaurant workers to strip search her, and she spends most of the movie naked beneath an apron. To me, her clothes represent a shield, and without them she becomes completely powerless. It’s not unlike what you see in this country, when people have their rights, finances, and safety net taken away. They give up fighting altogether, and give in to the wishes of the people “in charge”. Are you with me so far?
Next we have the fiancé of the manager called into action. He does some very outrageous stuff to the girl, half drunk and confused. He (and all the others) is directed by the cop to call the authority figure “sir”, which he automatically does. When he completes his assigned tasks, he’s obviously ashamed of himself, and hastily exits. What I read into this is the shame and embarrassment many people feel when they realize they have been duped by the media who have been duped by corporate money. They simply stop participating, and stick their heads in the sand.
Finally, the janitor saves the day. He lacks the intelligence needed to allow the cop to continue, and brings the whole thing to a screeching halt. As a janitor you’re usually looked upon as someone who will do what they’re told. The truth is that he had very little to lose by his refusal to participate, as well as some good old common sense. This also sounds like people I know. I have several Facebook “friends” who have little more than a computer, a voice, working fingers, and feet that can get them around. They speak up about injustice with the knowledge that they may be seen as “TERRORISTS” for telling it like it is. I probably fit in with this group the best.
You may think what I’ve described could never really happen. According to the folks who made the flick, it happened 70 times over a 30 day span. That’s not my point. I think it is an excellent example of how people can be used, manipulated, and abused by people they trust to care about them.