Russian Roulette live on TV!
July 31, 2003 3:20 AM   Subscribe

Russian Roulette live on TV! On October 26th, Derren Brown is going to play russian roulette live on Britain's Channel 4. Good as he is, is this really responsible?
posted by salmacis (31 comments total)
to be honest if it encourages all the f*ckers out there with guns to play it, I say good.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:30 AM on July 31, 2003

This is going to be very sucessful.

In fact I'd go so far as to say it'll be a surefire hit.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:37 AM on July 31, 2003

News at ten: Magician does trick. World stays exactly same.
posted by seanyboy at 3:40 AM on July 31, 2003

i can't wait.
posted by Spoon at 3:51 AM on July 31, 2003

seanyboy: I think the difference here is that the trick is purely Psychological. If Penn and Teller did this on live TV, there would be no risk involved, as either the bullet would be switched, the gun would be rigged not to fire from a full chamber, or any number of other ways. That's how we normally understand 'magic' on television.

With Derren Brown, I believe the whole setup will be real. He will spend time with the volunteer loading the gun, learning to recognise when the volunteer is lying, or when he is under stress. By forming a personal bond with the volunteer, Brown will use psychology and nothing else.
posted by salmacis at 3:53 AM on July 31, 2003

Derren Brown is the devil.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:03 AM on July 31, 2003

Hrrrmm [Marge Simpson noise]. That's what Brown says he does. Having seen his shows, I don't buy the psychology; it's a good act, but I'm sure he uses multiple techniques.
posted by raygirvan at 4:08 AM on July 31, 2003

Also seen Bronwns show, where he claims and recieves money for losing greyhound racing tickets, guesses peoples pin-numbers, knocks them over from behind without touching them etc.........very impressive stuff

'News at eleven: Man comments on website about Magician doing trick. World stays exactly same.'

I am sure he would not claim to do any more than seek to entertain!
posted by kenaman at 4:35 AM on July 31, 2003

Ehh, still a fairly simple illusion.
posted by mischief at 4:50 AM on July 31, 2003

See Simon Singh on the subject.
posted by raygirvan at 4:52 AM on July 31, 2003

I think Brown does use psychology.

The incident related by kenaman at the greyhound racetrack is a good example.
All he did was band his hand on the side of the booth, and say in an authorative voice, "This is the winning ticket."

The operator then took the ticket that she had just said was not the winning ticket, and paid out on it.

That's not a magic trick.

I'm more sceptical of Simon Singh's explaination, than I am of Derren Brown's methodology.
posted by Blue Stone at 5:04 AM on July 31, 2003

Wanna buy a bridge, Blue?
posted by mischief at 5:20 AM on July 31, 2003

Depends, mischief, you a dentist?
posted by Blue Stone at 5:31 AM on July 31, 2003

I'm sure Brown uses a range of tricks, but there's no doubt many of them involve psychology. That is the basis of his act. Learning the unconsious body language that we can't help, that sort of thing. I'm also sure the explanations that Singh doubts are complete rubbish as well.
posted by salmacis at 5:46 AM on July 31, 2003

This is just a variation on the old Bullet Catch trick.

Not the safest of tricks, by any means.
posted by Cerebus at 5:55 AM on July 31, 2003

"But is he a genius of psychology or merely a skilled magician?"

Er, afraid to say I buy that he's a genius of psychology.
posted by nthdegx at 5:56 AM on July 31, 2003

Heh, I thought you meant the stupid show on the Game Show Network.
posted by piskycritter at 5:58 AM on July 31, 2003

Here's a better link.
posted by Cerebus at 5:59 AM on July 31, 2003

To those who believe it, one thing to remember is that with televised performances, you can't trust the stated conditions of the trick as screened. Remember Blaine's street magic, with real footage of audience reaction to a Balducci Levitation spliced with faked footage of him rising high in the air. Or the frequently-televised disappearing aeroplane - or truck or tank or whatever - trick that hinges on all the supposedly independent observers around the plane being in on the trick. Why would this be any different?
posted by raygirvan at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2003

I can believe the guy is a master of psychology. He says he uses his skills to perform tricks, where, in reality, he uses them to convince his audience that he's not performing tricks, or at least that they aren't magic.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2003

Russian Roulette live on TV!

The page that phrase links to says it'll be pre-recorded.

It also claims it'll be real Russian Roulette, where the chamber is spun before firing. If that's the case, how can any amount of psychological insight help? Or is the whole thing just one big fat hoax from beginning to end?

Cerebus - thanks for the fascinating link(s) to the bullet-catch explanation.
posted by soyjoy at 7:49 AM on July 31, 2003

Wouldn't it be fun to turn the tables and play a trick on him?

*proffers extra bullets to propmaster*

*eyes slowly change back from hazel back to bright crimson, horns reappear*
posted by UncleFes at 7:49 AM on July 31, 2003

Well, I predict a rash of deaths at home by drunk copycats.
posted by konolia at 8:05 AM on July 31, 2003

He sounds like the British version of John Edwards from Crossing Over, at least in spirit. John Edwards claims to be talking to loved ones "on the other side" when in reality he's just running a numbers game.
posted by witchstone at 8:21 AM on July 31, 2003

Speaking of psychic powers, Bush is finally using divination to find those WMDs.
posted by soyjoy at 9:12 AM on July 31, 2003

"I would like at this moment to announce that I will be retiring from this program in two weeks time because of poor ratings. Since this show is the only thing I had going for me in my life, I've decided to kill myself. I'm going to blow my brains out right on this program a week from today. So tune in next Tuesday. That should give the public relations people a week to promote the show. You ought to get a hell of a rating out of that. Fifty share, easy."
--Howard Beale, Network
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:53 AM on July 31, 2003

To make it really interesting they should have a guy sitting across the table from him like in The Deer Hunter, and they keep firing the gun and passing it back and forth until one of them dies.

Also, they should wear headbands and have a crowd around them placing bets on the outcome.
posted by beth at 10:01 AM on July 31, 2003

Nah, it would be really interesting with a semi-automatic.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:22 AM on July 31, 2003

oh, puh-leeze. Brown is first and foremost an entertainer, and who wants reality to get in the way of a good story? You guys must also bitch about space movies where you can hear explosions.

Simon Singh's article neatly disproves itself. He rightly states that Brown's is a magician performing magic tricks, but then proceeds to claim that none of his tricks are psychological in nature. Isn't getting people to believe a bullshit explanation a psychological trick?

However, it is irresponsible for Channel 4 to place Derren Brown in the science section of their webpage.
posted by LimePi at 1:20 PM on July 31, 2003

Apparently, Singh acknowledges it's not there any more.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:51 PM on July 31, 2003

it is irresponsible for Channel 4 to place Derren Brown in the science section of their webpage

But that's Singh's point. Being an entertainer is one thing: claiming and promoting a bogus scientific rationale gets us into Geller territory.
posted by raygirvan at 4:06 AM on August 1, 2003

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