This Prison Torture Used To Be An "Experiment" On Reality TV

Jail cell
Zain Murdock
June 4, 2021

There have been many approaches to reality TV, but the 2006 show “Solitary” somehow slipped under the radar of national conversation. Some called it “torture.” The creators called it “an intense psychological experiment.” 

But, for incarcerated people? It’s not just TV – it’s actual reality.

The premise of the show, which ended in 2010, was to confine contestants to small “pods,” meant to resemble solitary confinement cells, for 12 days. On top of that, they underwent varying levels of torture “tasks,” including being ball-gagged in torture chairs and lying on a bed of nails.

One contestant described surviving the reality TV torture as “making the best” of a situation. “How sad can you be on death row?” Well, that’s exactly the problem with this show.

It refuses to mention the words “prisons,” “cells,” or “torture.” But, in New York, for example, 58% of people in actual solitary confinement are Black. Cells are less than 10 by 10 feet. The torture lasts at least 22.5 hours a day.

They’re not there for fun, and there’s no prize at the end!

Although “Solitary” is no longer on the air, the media often still makes the brutality of prisons and policing a spectacle for people to enjoy. “Copaganda" is still very much alive.

We must be vigilant about what media we consume – and decide how we think about these systems for ourselves.

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