Illusionist Derren Brown swears there's psychological gain to his latest mind game. That may just be the amusement in watching on man sweat himself into a puddle, but we'll know when The Push drops on Netflix later this week.
Over the years, Brown has become the UK's answer to David Blaine by convincing crowds of unsuspecting bystanders that the world is coming to an end (2012's Apocalypse) and tricking a group of old folks into stealing a priceless painting (2013's The Great Art Robbery). His latest special, The Push, imported by the streaming service and set for a February 27 release, finds the master manipulator tricking a single man into committing murder. The first trailer for the show hints at the setup: a high-end auction, an ill-timed heart attack, a ticking clock, and a 10-story drop that could solve all of his problems.
According to Brown, the experiment, "exposes the psychological secrets of obedience and social compliance. He expertly lifts the lid on the terrifying truth that, when confronted with authority, our natural instinct is to unflinchingly obey without question – to such an extent that even the most moral people can be made to commit the most horrendous acts, simply because they are told to do so."
Yes, someone will yell "Give him one big push!" at the poor guy. Science!
In the vein of Stanley Milgram and the Stanford prison experiment, The Push hopes to expose humanity's darkest impulses through equally fucked up conditions. But we wonder this: what does it say about people who actually want to watch Brown's target suffer the existential consequences of his decision? Who watches the binge-watchers?