mob mentality

If you enjoy this post, check out more from Linoge over at Walls Of The City. If you’re not already following his site, I highly recommend you add it to your daily gun blog rotation.

Personally, I find this video fascinating:

But not for the obvious reasons.

Oh, sure, it was a masterpiece of advertising, and I love a bit of spontaneity as much as the next guy, but watch it again, only this time pay attention to the crowd and not the players.

I can understand everyone just standing around and watching while the ambulance rolls up and clumsily tries to load… whoever the hell that was. Ambulance-calls are typically indicative that something unfortunate has happened, but “the authorities” are already on-scene and apparently handling the situation (however ineffectively they might be), so what are you left to do but watch?

But around 0:48 into the video, a bicyclist runs into the open door of the ambulance, falls over, and starts bodily assaulting one of the paramedics, who responds, in short, by spin-kicking the cyclist into the side of the ambulance. Flashy and well-choreographed, but how do the onlookers know it is still part of the “drama”? Does anyone think to call the cops, or intervene, on the basis of an apparent beating taking place in front of them? So far as we are shown, no. People look incredulous, concerned, repulsed, scared, but never really do anything.

The hot chick wearing nothing but lingerie riding by on a motorcycle might account for the inactivity of the males, at least, I suppose…

It gets worse… about 1:03 a matte-black suburban roars into the square with an apparent police van in hot pursuit of it and a SWAT van boxing it in, and as the vehicles screech to a halt, men dive out of them and begin to exchange gunfire, complete with fairly gratuitous blood splatter for the fictional victim (visible at 1:14). Ignore, for a second, the rather flagrant violations of pretty much all of the Four Rules when it comes to staging a complete-with-blanks shoot-out in the middle of a crowded European square, and instead focus on the audience.

People flinch. People cower. People look around to see what other people are doing. Hell, one of the button-pushers looks like she wants to hide behind the ridiculously-too-small-to-hide-behind stand for the button. But, so far as I can see in the commercial (which means “so far as TNT wants to show us” since they are the ones who held the editing scissors), no one ran, no one actually sought cover (even those people downrange of the shooters), and there was no mass panic.
Which seems strange to me.

I like to think that if what I believed to be were shots being exchanged right in front of me, I would be, at the very least, kissing concrete or getting the hell out of dodge. But aside from a few steps back, hardly anyone in the commercial moved. Maybe this was all announced in advance, so people knew mostly what to expect… which would rather destroy the “drama” of the situation, much less the surprise of it. Maybe the whole thing – from the players all the way down through the audience – was 100% staged with full awareness of what all would be happening going on… which would be a rather misleading ploy on TNT’s part.

Or maybe the average person’s “flight or fight” response has been successfully suppressed by societal training. In fairness, this whole bit of stagecraft was executed “on an average Flemmish square of an average Flemmish town”, but before we go too far down the rabbit hole of “disarmed Europeans”, do you really think the average American’s response would be a whole lot different? When bad / strange / unusual things start happening around people, I guarantee you one of their first – if not their actual first – reactions is to look around and see what everyone else is doing, and if no one is appreciably reacting in any way, neither will they; on the other hand, mobs are called “mobs” for a reason. We have been conditioned to place our own physical safety beneath our social standing, to the point that we will, apparently, simply stand there and observe a gun fight transpiring not 20 feet from us, with firearms pointed at us, rather than be “embarrassed” at understandably fleeing from the scene.

Yeah. That seems like a beneficial adaptation.

So what would you do in a similar situation? Have you thought about what you would do in a similar situation? How would you know if it was “all part of the show” or something else entirely? How would you know it was not a show-within-a-show, with criminals exploiting your belief that it is “just a show” to pull off something worse? How do you know they will not try something like that now? In any case, to bastardize an old military saying, you do not rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your preparedness.

Me, I would have whacked the crap out of that button – big red buttons exist to be pushed – but I sure as hell would not have been in a position to see the cute little banner being unfurled from the building.

If you enjoyed this post, check out more from Linoge over at Walls Of The City. If you’re not already following his site, I highly recommend you add it to your daily gun blog rotation.

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