High School Fascism Redux
December 28, 2008 2:57 AM Subscribe
posted by mediocre (46 comments total)
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In 1981, ABC aired a program in daytime that, while pre-dating the After School Special
format, was a moralist tale aimed at children. "The Wave"
was based on the classroom experiments of Ron Jones
, which at the time went largely undocumented and were primarily anecdotal. The Third Wave
as he called it, fooled the children of his class into creating a fascististic movement within the school complete with symbolism and salutes.
Like "The Day After"
before it [previously]
, The Wave
[the whole 45 minute feature hosted at Google Video] became a piece of oft-compulsory viewing for many high school students. Ron Jones
became infamous for his experiment, often coming under fire for playing with the minds of teenagers in such potentially harmful ways. And to many, it was just as disturbing in different ways. Proving how easy it is to manipulate young people into herd mentality and fascist thinking, the movie and experiment has proven timeless. A book
based on the special was written, stage productions have been mounted, various other schools have attempted to re-create the experiment with varying degrees of success. Recently, a German production based on Jones' writings and experiment, "Die Welle
" was released in March of this year and follows much the same plot. Though with the added intrigue of them being German students who don't believe that anyone could fall into such thinking in this day and age, they quickly fall into line with Die Welle and their salutes and marches. To this day it remains a frightening study in the potential of mass human cruelty.