I was born and remained gullible and earnest, a wide-eyed innocent. Tell me something, and chances are I will believe you. It was a lonely state to be in, this extended childhood, and my more street-wise contemporaries laughed at my constant naivete.
But, as I was gleeful to discover, technology is making everyone around me the same stupid. That was what Peter Funt concluded while creating Candid Camera ("Curses, Fooled Again!") He thought technology would make people sharper, less likely to fall for his traps; they are actually now more susceptible to them.
That may seem counterintuitive, but I’m certain it’s true. Much has to do with multitasking. When my dad, Allen Funt, introduced the show over six decades ago, he had to work at distracting people. Nowadays they do it to themselves.
Many people we now encounter are fiddling with cellphones and other devices, tackling routine activities with less-than-full focus. That makes them easier targets for our little experiments, but also more vulnerable to personal mishaps and genuine scams.
I worried briefly that people are now so tech-savvy that some of our props and fake setups wouldn’t be believed. Instead, we found that the omnipresence of technology has reached a point where people will now accept almost anything . . .
I don’t necessarily believe 21st-century Americans are more gullible, but they tend to give that impression by protesting life’s little insults without taking time to fully digest the situation.
People accept because they don't think. Interesting.
I don’t mind the smartphone obsession in our scenes; it’s rather funny. It is a shame, though, that so many people now interrupt real life — in effect hollering “cut” — to record what could be called Act One. In doing so they spoil their own Act Two.
Why must everything be recorded? Chances are, that video file will never be played. It seems so important right then to preserve this hysterical/cute/outrageous moment forever, but it's not. The moment is being ruined by holding up that smartphone and tapping.
Much hasn’t changed over the years. For example, I expected to encounter more profanity in everyday conversation, but it’s really not there. I also wondered whether young people would be less spontaneous and engaged when caught in our scenarios, yet there’s no hint of that whatsoever. I thought in these litigious times fewer people would sign a waiver to appear on our show, but the percentages have stayed about the same over the years.
I do note that today more people step out in public looking a bit disheveled and unkempt and are then hesitant to sign because they’re not happy with their appearance.
Hey, that's why it's always important to look good. You never know when a film crew will have you in their sights.