While it is clear at this point that there is no requirement for a review board if an experiment is made to entertain, I believe that doesn’t mean experiments should be free of ethics. While it is impossible to understand the exact impact of an experiment there is always a way to ensure that the intent of the experiment is not malicious. While watching the Push documentary I feel as if the show failed to create an effective experiment and skirted the boundaries of what is ethical.
The worst offense of the documentary for me was the intent and the methodology they used while setting up the experiment. From the get-go, they focused on individuals who already displayed a willingness to follow orders simply because they are told to. In fact, they specifically decline one applicant because she is not as compliant as they hoped for their contestant. This undermines the final point of the show, that most people would be complicit in following orders because they had already chosen people who would demonstrate their outcome. Which could be excused by the fact that it’s a show made to entertain, their premise may be to show that it’s possible to convince at least one person not the majority of the population. What invalidates this is the final scene of the documentary with Derren Brown attempting to make some moral point about how we all have to stay vigilant about ourselves or else we could be convinced to act against our personality as well.
This leaves me with the impression that this was Brown’s attempt at making some grand flashy artistic statement and not to raise some point about human nature. In my opinion, this wasn’t so much of an experiment and more of some form of performance art. Instead of trying to prove that most people are susceptible to social pressure, they succeeded at demonstrating that a few people from a cooperate focused world are susceptible to social pressure.