Lawful Evil Movie Scenes?
September 22, 2007 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Video clips that demonstrate the difference between rules and morals/ethics?

A friend of mine is teaching a lecture soon on the difference between rules and ethics, specifically underscoring situations in which one can follow the rules perfectly and yet still be engaged in unethical behavior.

For illustration/class dissection, he wants suggestions for film clips that he can show, so I thought I'd pick your brain. Obvious examples are those who turned over Jews to the Nazis or named names to HUAC in the '50s, but rather than whole films or genres, he's looking for specific scenes that will make for good illustration and discussion. Ideas?
posted by middleclasstool to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Clips of the Milgram experiment are on Youtube. That's a pretty clear example of the difference.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:34 PM on September 22, 2007

This is the film we watched in my class on the Milgram experiment. Some of the YouTube videos are re-enactments.
posted by ALongDecember at 2:54 PM on September 22, 2007

Unfortunately, the last two segments of the Milgram experiment have been removed from Youtube. Good stuff, though. Thanks for posting. (Can anyone point me in the direction where I can get the full video?)
posted by wafaa at 4:06 PM on September 22, 2007

I can't think of specific scenes, but Judgement at Nuremberg with Spencer Tracy is about just this: it's a dramatization of the trials of German judges, who were obviously following the law when they allowed the Nazi regime to carry out its evil, evil plans (because all this stuff was made legal), but that its being legal wasn't really good enough. The whole movie turns on this dilemma, I'm sure you could find countless examples of characters arguing the point.
posted by SoftRain at 5:00 PM on September 22, 2007

In a cheesier vein, the judgement scene in Scent of a Woman has the perennial issue of whether it is right to snitch on friends. Or, in this case, "friends". Fun to see Al Pacino tear up the scenery
posted by IndigoJones at 5:13 PM on September 22, 2007

You may find some "appropriate" videos in looking at civil rights related films. Scenes from "Roots" for example would show people acting legally, but not morally.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:51 PM on September 22, 2007

OMG! I'm watching House. Practically every episode is just about divided into its beats by ethical choices.

This episode just featured a mandate from House to his subordinates not to disclose tests being done on a girlfriend whose parter is in process to donate her liver to her, because the donor is not House's patient, and it would be a breach of client patient privilege, plus it would influence her not to donate, at the patient's peril.

This show seems like a video demonstration of the difference, a tableau.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:07 PM on September 22, 2007

Does your friend need the distinction to be made from this perspective specifically? Hollywood loves to tell stories about the ethical nobility of rule-breaking, if you're interested in those...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:32 AM on September 23, 2007

Response by poster: Sure, go ahead and throw those suggestions in too, he may use 'em.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:09 PM on September 23, 2007

I'm thinking Eyes Wide Shut might be something like what you're looking for. Anything else with highly ritualized evil cults would also work. Not that they're the same thing, but movies involving hazing would also qualify.
posted by ontic at 1:50 PM on September 27, 2007

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