I listened to the Radiolab episode which was not an easy thing given their infuriating gimmick of never letting anyone speak more than six words in a row. I was disappointed that they didn’t explore the legal angle. What sort of releases did they have for the early radio and TV shows? I know today’s complicated system of getting signed releases from every passerby is a relatively recent thing. What did a 1950s Candid Camera victim sign before their segment aired? How much power did they have to say “no”?
I was reminded of a YouTube video from some years back. It was a segment from a Japanese hidden camera show. A guy is sitting in a sauna. Suddenly the back wall drops away and his chair turns into a sled that sends him barreling down a snowy hillside backward, naked, and apparently scared out of his wits. Did a production assistant amble up after the ride ended with a pen and a waiver?
I wouldn’t be surprised to find that prank shows beginning with Candid Microphone have contributed to the common attitude that everything is a big game, so fuck all of you. Someone, knowing it’s bullshit, fabricates a story about a child sex ring run out of a pizza restaurant. Gullible people buy into it, spread it, amplify and shape it, and before long you have QAnon and Donald Trump. Somewhere the original perps are probably splitting their sides over how their priceless gag paid off.