How does someone become a “Negan”? You know the leather jacket clad guy on the popular AMC TV series The Walking Dead? The one with the totally tricked-out Louisville Slugger? Okay granted, I reeeallllyy don’t know that it’s a Louisville slugger he’s carrying, but it’s the only type of baseball bat I’ve ever heard of, thanks to Carrie Underwood’s song “Before He Cheats”; but I digress. Back on topic, what I mean is, there’s Rick the cop and King Ezekiel the zoo keeper come tiger handler; both leaders too, right? They are all leaders in their own right, and all with their own, er style of leading.
Without getting all wordy on you, let’s see what types of leaders these guys are. And yes, there are lots of in-between leader types, but for arguments sake, and because I’m doing the writing, I picked what I thought were their types.
First, there is the autocratic or authoritarian leader. They hold all authority and responsibility. And make all the decisions, period. Sounds a lot like Negan donncha think?
Then there’s the democratic, or participative leader, who relies on the group to help make decisions. Rick perhaps? At least in the beginning? In other seasons, he kinda jumped into those other “in-between” types, so who knows now?
And, then there is the transformational leader. This person encourages others to pursue innovative and creative ideas and actions. King Ezekiel?
All of these men are good leaders for their respective groups. It seems to work for them. But how does a person like Negan become, well, Negan?
Have you ever heard of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment? No? Well let’s talk a little history. Way back when, for some what would be the dark ages, psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, decided to conduct an experiment on the psychological effects of prison life, and more specifically, the prisoners and guards. Only, the experiment was done at Stanford University, and not at a prison, and … he didn’t use real prisoners and guards, but male college students who volunteered for the study; for pay of course, I mean we are talking college, right?
The twenty-four volunteers, all given testing before being chosen, were divided into two groups by a coin toss; prisoners and guards, and then sent home. Sometime later, don’t ask cuz I don’t know, nine of the “prisoners” were rounded up by real badged policemen, cuffed, read their Maranda rights, and whisked to the police station for printing and booking – the usual “bad-guy protocol”. But then, they were blindfolded and put in a holding cell. I’m sure by that time, they were thinking, “What the heck just happened?” “I thought I was going to go to the college to play a prisoner, collect my $15 and go home!” After a while, the prisoners were driven to the makeshift prison; okay the basement of Stanford's Psychology Department building.
Each prisoner was searched, stripped, and sprayed down with a disinfectant. And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, they were issued a smock with an individual number printed on it; for which they would be referred to, a pair of rubber sandals and a stocking cap made of cut up ladies pantyhose; and no underclothes. Also, each prisoner wore a heavy chain and lock around their ankle, to simulate oppression.
Now, those volunteers who picked what to me would be the winning side of the coin, the guards, had no limits, and were free to do as they pleased to maintain order. Each guard was given a uniform of a khaki shirt and pants, a pair of mirrored glasses, a whistle, and billy club (can you say Negan?)
The experiment, a two-week study, started with nine guards and nine prisoners. The guards worked three eight hours shifts. The prisoners were housed; three to a “cell” in rooms with three cots and room enough to either sit or lie down – no walking room. The doors were fitted with bars in what would otherwise have been a window.
As would be expected, initially, the guards and prisoners didn’t take the experiment too seriously; I mean we are talking about college guys walking around in dresses and flip-flops with a knee high on their heads, right?! However, by day two the prisoners began to “get into character” by causing a rebellion. They blocked the cell doors with their cots, so the guards couldn’t get in, and started cursing and taunting the guards. Apparently, this is when the testosterone kicked in for both sides. In fact, it got so bad, and the guards were losing total control, that the extra guard volunteers were called in. To tame the beasts, the prisoners were sprayed with fire extinguishers (which, by the way, were not part of the study, but had been placed in the facility for fire protection) - remember desperate times call for desperate measures? The prisoners were then stripped of their clothes, and the cots were removed from their cells.
Because the study only called for nine guards; for three guard shifts per day, and nine prisoners, the guards resorted to more psychological tactics instead of physical ones, to keep control.
The guards setup a privilege system. Those prisoners that were less involved in the rebellion received their clothes back and were given a cot, and placed in a special cell, where they received washing and teeth brushing privileges, and giving different meals than the others. The others slept naked on the bare cement floor.
Then, to further mix things up, the guards placed the rebellious prisoners in the special cell and put the good prisoners in the less desirable cells. Needless to say, this totally confused the heck outta the prisoners and they began fighting amongst themselves, giving reason for the guards to up their control and aggression even more. Using the toilet soon became a privilege. Instead buckets were issued, and depending on the prisoner’s demeanor, at times were left uncleaned, again causing even more aggression. Guards forced the prisoners to do menial, repetitive work like cleaning out toilet bowls with bare hands, and doing repetitive push-ups and jumping jacks; sometimes for hours. Remember, this was supposed to be an experiment?
The guards were so into their power positions that the abuse escalated to humiliating pornographic and degrading abuse. Ultimately, the study had to be cut short due to the severe psychological trauma being inflicted upon the prisoners – eh, volunteers, by the inhuman and brutal actions of the power driven guards.
The experiment lasted six days. It only took six days to become Negan.
How long do you think it would take when the poo hits the fan? - Just Sayin'
- Survivor Jane