Derren Brown’s Apocalypse and our Susceptible Perception of Reality

 

One of the UK’s most famous magician/TV personality, Derren Brown has teamed up with Channel 4 to create one of the most entertaining two-part shows I have ever seen, named Derren Brown’s Apocalypse. In this series, Derren and his team led Steven Brosnan to believe that the world is about to end. Steven was fed false information about a meteor that was about to strike the world through tweets, news coverage and TV advertisements- all manufactured by Derren Brown and his team, with the help of Steven’s family (the show reminded me of The Truman Show- trailer below). Steven then rode a bus with his brother- also one of Brown’s accomplice- with the belief that he was going to a gig by The Killers. The bus stopped due to some problems and they witnessed explosion after explosion. After being hypnotized by Brown, Steven woke up in what looked like a hospital room filled with zombies and a young girl named Leona, who was not ‘infected’. You can watch the rest by clicking the links below.

What is Reality?

Regardless of whether the show was faked or not, what happened to Steven actually creates a good platform in which people can discuss what reality really is. Think about it for a minute. Steven was fed false information on every medium possible. When he read his Twitter feed, he saw people including Prof. Brian Cox (whose account was hacked by Brown) tweeting about the meteor strike. When he watched TV, listened to the radio, even when he spoke to the people around him, all they have mentioned was the proposed day of doom. Steven’s situation and surroundings were constructed in a way which leaves very little room for doubt. Everywhere he went, there were information about what Brown wanted him to believe. When he woke up in that forsaken hospital, he was connected to a drip, surrounded by zombie-like creatures.

Steven’s experience made me ask myself, who really decides what is real and what is not? Is it the person who is experiencing the events/ sensations, or is it the observer? Everyone who watched the show knew that Steven’s situation was fake. Everyone involved in the programme knew what was going on, except Steven. Steven thought all of it were real because everything that he perceived confirmed the apocalypse- again, much like The Truman Show. I am aware that our senses trick us all the time. Take visual illusions for instance. What was different in Steven’s case was that it could have affected his whole life. Imagine the psychological scars it may have caused!

This reminded me of the situation that people with schizoprenia and other psychotic conditions may have. Their perceptions of reality is distorted and unjustified in the eyes of an outsider, but yet, they swear that what they see, feel, hear and experience is real. If only there is a magic pill.

Links:

I got the links below from Channel 4’s own Youtube Channel, therefore embedding was disallowed. Nevertheless, you can still click ‘Watch on Youtube’ to enjoy the programme.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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