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The “Experimenter”: Understanding Why Shit Happens and How Conformity Kills

The “Experimenter”: Understanding Why Shit Happens and How Conformity Kills

During inclement weather days, late nights, lazy weekends, and when one’s eyes tire of small print or words and images levitating in digital ether, Netflix offers a video library of sorts allowing the viewer to recline, and imbibe knowledge in a relatively easy way.  Many of Netflix’s films consist of documentaries, nonfiction stories originating from books, historical retellings, or fictionalized narratives derived from actual circumstances and people. Two such films, recently viewed by the author of this post, are historical accounts, originated from books, and retold from the perspective of the actual persons who lived the events recounted therein. These two films, currently showing on Netflix, include: “First They Killed My Father” (2017) and “Experimenter” (2015).

The former film is a Netflix Original and based upon the 2000 book, “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers”, written by Loung Ung.  Loung was a five-year-old Cambodian girl living in Phnom Penh when Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge subjugated the city forcing the Ung family to flee into what later became known as the Cambodian Killing Fields.  The latter film retells the story behind the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments which took place at Yale University in 1961.

Loung Ung’s father was a Captain in the military police for the Lon Nol government.  He correctly believed it was wrong for Cambodians to have placed their faith in the resolve of the lying and politically schizophrenic United States Government during the Vietnam War.  Yet, at the same time, he feared the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot and the unification of Cambodia under the Communist Party of Kampuchea.

The Ung family lived a comfortable upper-middle-class existence right up until the Khmer Rouge defeated the Khmer Republic of Lon Nol; and everything changed terribly when the rebels marched into the city of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975.

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