Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

scare tactics redux

She isn't living the "Charmed" life any longer, but Shannen Doherty is still involved in scary stuff. The actress returns to weekly TV as host of -- and occasional participant in -- "Scare Tactics," a half-hour series debuting Friday, April 4, on Sci-Fi Channel. The show sets up unwitting people in elaborately staged situations fully intended to panic them, until they find out the joke is on them. In one segment, Doherty supposedly is kidnapped from a hotel room while interviewing a woman to be her new assistant; in another, a man at a firing range accidentally "kills" Doherty's uncle, played by an actor.

Well ... on further consideration, not only do I no longer think that the current lawsuit against "Scare Tactics" is bogus, but I do not even vaguely begin to understand how this show made it past the SciFi/USANetworks/Vivendi Universal lawyers. Surely they were able to see, at first glance, the legal morass this show could be.

SciFi has started heavily promoting Scare Tactics during their other shows. From what I can tell in the promos, they make people think that someone they know is dead, that the person has run someone down with a car accidentally, and that someone has been contaminated by radiation. How each and every one of those has not led to major lawsuits is beyond me. Being a good sport is one thing; being led to think that you have committed murder or are about to die through contamination is something else entirely.

And what sane person would sign the release for those tapes?

Truly, utterly baffling.

Posted by iain at 08:59 PM in category



Like I commented in an earlier article.

I actually hope that one of the people they pull their stunts on carries a weapon & they (Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey) end up w/ some real deaths on their hands. Then these reality shows will hopefully all go bye bye.

Posted by Arthur McHenry at April 2, 2003 02:04 AM

This show goes far beyond any hidden camera prank show. What they are doing to people is sick and disturbing. They are terrorizing unsuspecting people by making them believe that their lives and/or lives of their friends are in mortal danger or that their actions have caused the death of another person. They then use the terrified reactions of these victims to amuse and entertain a TV audience. They're also profiting from the person's misfortune. This seems almost criminal. I'm not a legal expert but I think if you or I were to terrorize another person to point that they believed there life was about to come to an end, we would probably be arrested. By the magic of a signed release, these creeps seem to be free and clear of any wrongdoing.

Another disturbing aspect is that the victim is being set up by their family and/or friends. I just can't figure out why anyone would put someone they care about through such a horrible ordeal and think it was funny and that the person would enjoy it.

I read in an interview with the producer that the show gets as much info about the victim as possible to make sure the joke is appropriate for that person and that he or she could handle the situation and would get a kick out of it. Is he fucking serious? What's appropriate about making a person believe he or she was about to die or that they just witnessed the murder of their friends or that they just killed another person. What normal person would be able to handle these situations and what do they mean by "handle"? Do they mean that the person wouldn't faint or drop dead out of fright. I'm scared to think what they believe a person wouldn't be able to handle. I wonder where they draw the line. Finally, who the hell would get a kick out of going through something as terrifying as these pranks? Apparently they didn't do their homework on one woman who was set up for the alien attack prank. She was traumatized so severely she had to be hospitalized. Gee...I wonder how that could have happened? She was supposed to be able to handle it and get a kick out of it. I wonder what her problem was. She's now suing the show, the SciFi network and her "so called" friends. I hope she's awarded millions. Here are the causes of action listed in the complaint she filed in civil court: negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress; invasion of privacy; violation of Civil Code section 1708.8; violation of Penal Code section 632.2; assault; false imprisonment; fraudulent misrepresentation; fraudulent concealment; unfair business practices. As you might have read, they got her to believe that her friends were being attacked and killed by an alien and that if she didn't flee into a dark canyon she too would be killed. That's some really fun stuff!

Posted by Phil at April 3, 2003 07:19 PM

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