Mind Games: what do you think?

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Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby jb » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:55 am

http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-arc ... mind-games

I remember when I first saw the video this episode mentions, and being like "not cool". I felt so bad for that band. It turned me off of Improv Everywhere basically.

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Re: Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby Jerkatorium » Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:25 pm

The disappointment voiced by the band is the most anti-Zen reaction imaginable. The band's genuine enjoyment was not merely lessened but somehow poisoned in retrospect due to the crowd's (at least partial) insincerity? The experience was fun for everyone involved and the intent was not malicious, so the only disappointment one could feel would be based on whatever emotional baggage they'd attached to the experience propping up too much of their ego. Would they have preferred it if the band members had outnumbered their unenthusiastic audience (which is what would have been the case if the IE crew hadn't attended)?

Charlie Todd was trying to create a fun and inexplicable experience and he succeeded. When the band found out what had happened, they decided to feel awful and victimized, when it would have been easier and better to just take it for what it was: a great gig that increased their visibility and increased their audience. Ghosts of Pasha is still capitalizing on the incident, and they should have just focused on the positive aspects from day 1 instead of being miserable and paranoid. Come to think of it, if they'd just focused on the positive aspects from the start then there wouldn't have been any negative aspects.

But then again I'm the sort of guy who will probably love the upcoming Florence Foster Jenkins movie.
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Re: Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby jb » Sat Jun 11, 2016 2:31 pm

I think you are approaching this as if they were a cover band only happy to see whoever appeared that night. That's not the case.

At the start of the segment they discuss that yes, they were kind of glad they the show would be empty because they were tired and just wanted to play and go home.

As a band on tour, these guys were actively seeking an audience, so the enjoyment of that night, which was great, was only part of it-- they thought they had found an audience, that people were connecting with their original music, only to discover after the fact that it was a lie. And for a rock band, authenticity is a key ingredient.

You say they should have focused on the positive-- but for this story they were asked how they felt, so their emotions are legitimate. In public they did as you suggest and worked the moment to their benefit, even as they felt betrayed and hurt inside.

You say it would have been easier to feel some other way? I don't understand that. They felt how they felt, and it wasn't a choice but a reaction to having the rug pulled out from under them. Somebody loves our music! Oh wait they were only kidding. Intent doesn't matter here- they weren't in on the joke, so it's as if the prettiest girl asked the nerd to the prom then revealed it was just a joke.

Then the attention after the fact, much of it negative, was another blow, especially to a guitarist whose identity had been formed around guitar as a way to protect himself from the world.

So I think that the Improv guys had a moment of severe lack of empathy for this band, thinking that the only thing that mattered was the moment, when really the goal was something other than that.

It's fine to be a fan of Improv Everywhere, but they're not perfect and in the two stories in this show, I think they made those mistakes because of a lack of understanding the impact of their prank.

Something like the little league game is a different thing, and really fun, and I still like that particular prank.

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Re: Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby Jerkatorium » Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:31 pm

jb wrote:I think you are approaching this as if they were a cover band only happy to see whoever appeared that night. That's not the case.


No, I get that, but they're a new band and I'm assuming they would be happy to have people in the audience listening to the music. It wasn't a closed rehearsal, it was a public performance; why else would they be performing?

jb wrote:At the start of the segment they discuss that yes, they were kind of glad they the show would be empty because they were tired and just wanted to play and go home.


Okay they were tired, and they suggested that they would have felt perfectly fine if nobody had attended the show, but they were going to play whether that crowd showed up or not. At worst, the crowd delayed their bedtime by one or two encores. I don't see how that should make a big difference in anybody's opinion of the event. (Also I have my doubts about the sincerity of their claim that they would have preferred a dead show, to me that sounds more like a reassessment after the fact to help them feel more justified in their anger - but that's neither here nor there.)

jb wrote:You say they should have focused on the positive-- but for this story they were asked how they felt, so their emotions are legitimate. In public they did as you suggest and worked the moment to their benefit, even as they felt betrayed and hurt inside.

You say it would have been easier to feel some other way? I don't understand that. They felt how they felt, and it wasn't a choice but a reaction to having the rug pulled out from under them. Somebody loves our music! Oh wait they were only kidding. Intent doesn't matter here- they weren't in on the joke, so it's as if the prettiest girl asked the nerd to the prom then revealed it was just a joke.


Yes their emotions are as legitimate as anyone else's. But the disappointment was based on some pretty specific expectations, and when you really think about it, those expectations are unjustified. As for the 'choice' aspect, I don't think anyone should be a hopeless slave to their emotions regardless of the initial reaction. If I'm angered by something that I have no reason to be angered by (casino commercials, capri pants on men, Xmas decorations in September) then I am able to dismiss that emotion because I'm an adult and because I have some perspective.

The band is also unnecessarily dismissing what they felt during the show. It is not like if the prettiest girl asked the nerd to the prom and then revealed it was a big joke. It is as if the prettiest girl asked the nerd to the prom, then they went to the prom together and had a great time together, and then the nerd got to 2nd base with the prettiest girl, and then three days after the prom it was revealed to be a big joke, and then the nerd was all the more popular for it and got the sympathy and attention of the school, the press, NPR, Showtime, etc. In the purest objective terms they lost nothing and only benefited from the experience. The 'bad press' [no such thing] they got was based on their own negative reactions. The tone of this story would have been much different (and, yes, probably not as interesting) if the band had been great sports and had a positive attitude about the whole thing.

jb wrote:So I think that the Improv guys had a moment of severe lack of empathy for this band, thinking that the only thing that mattered was the moment, when really the goal was something other than that.


I disagree with your 'severe lack of empathy' label. The origin of the prank had to have been rooted in empathy. They found a show that was doomed to be poorly attended and they made it the "Best Gig Ever". The title is not ironic, it's literal. It was essentially intended as a random, bewildering gift, and IMO the band could have accepted and appreciated it as a gift instead of seeing themselves as hapless, wounded victims.
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Re: Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby iVeg » Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:53 pm

I'm trying to think how I would have responded. It's not like the prettiest girl going to prom with you. But it was a lot of fun, and everyone had a good time.

I wonder if the outrage was exaggerated. If they had just quietly enjoyed it, they wouldn't have gotten as much attention. Nobody would have recorded a radio show about them.

Playing a show for 3 people who weren't into it would have been much more draining.
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Re: Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby jb » Sun Jun 12, 2016 6:07 am

It's possible to feel empathy but the wrong empathy. I guess I'm putting myself in their place, because this is very much like my band right now. And if I had a giant crowd come out one night, what would that make me think? I'd think "the work is paying off, people are getting it!" Then later I'd discover that "no, it's not".

Whether or not I made hay with it afterward, I think I'd be sad at the least and angry at having that rug pulled out from under me. Plus, not being in on a joke sucks big time. Like the guy in the birthday segment-- what a nerve wracking experience that sounded like, while around you these people who are all in on the joke are having a blast.
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Re: Mind Games: what do you think?

Postby Jerkatorium » Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:52 pm

You're not wrong. I'd like to think that I would react differently if I were in Ghosts of Pasha, but if I'm being completely honest with myself then I'm not certain that I would.
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