I finally had some time yesterday to make my video mashup assignment for ds106. I’ve done a few already as part of the sagas of Jim Groom and Dr. Obilivion, but wanted to do something a little less “ds106ish” this time. Though the recent revelations regarding Camp Oblivion and Martha Burtis will need some digital rehashing!

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This mashup uses two police videos – a dashboard cam which records the tasering of a driver and a helicopter pov cam of a police chase. These are mixed with audio from American Idol audition footage. Also I used some sound effects from freesound.org.

Both police videos and of course the American Idol audition have been broadcast on television and the web. Each recorded moment of embarrassment and/or suffering of the individual(s) is packaged to create an amusing experience for the audience.

The Germans have a word to describe how people derive pleasure from the misfortune of others – Schadenfreude. It’s actually a fairly common feeling – think about how you might respond to the media mogul and conservative, Rupert Murdoch, being grilled by Parliament today, “Now that’s Fair and Balanced dammit!”

Scientists that study schadenfreude described here in the New York Times, that it’s an emotion, however contemptible, “we are programmed to feel.” A couple of illustrative experiments ask subjects to respond to the failings of individuals which have either a certain amount of status or very little. Typically the subjects took pleasure when individuals fell from grace.

So we can’t help but resent those that have more than us at times and  we seem to find a certain amount of glee in their disgrace. (Especially men apparently, so another study shows, described in this NYTimes article.) But the humiliation videos shown on Cops that portray less-fortunate individuals behaving badly or the carnival like atmosphere created on American Idol making a freak-show out of awkward individuals – doesn’t seem as forgivable  a “schadenfreude” response. Yes these individuals have made their own decisions that brought them to these degrading places, but do we have to enjoy it? Is it making me feel glad that I’m not you?