Detail View: Rare and Distinctive Collections Moving Image Film and Video: Conformity

Collection Name: 
Rare and Distinctive Collections Moving Image Film and Video
WCAU-TV (Television station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Resource Type: 
Moving Image
television programs
Place Created: 
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Date Issued: 
Date Created: 
Language Term: 
1 film reel (16mm): black and white, sound; 23:17
black-and-white films (visual works)
Form URI:
sound films
Form URI:
Producer, WCAU-TV (Philadelphia). Host, Harry Reasoner. Description from Mountain Plains Film Library Catalogs (1960s-1970s): "Deals with the problem of conformist attitudes in American life and its inherent dangers. Dicusses the advocates of censorship (bookburning), bigots, supporters of the late Senator McCarthy, buck-passing parents, 'yes men,' and group-think educational methods. Depicts the trend toward U.S. homogenization and dehumanization as a parallel to communism and a classless society."
00:00 A clapperboard is shown with information pertaining to the segment; 00:11 Harry Reasoner begins by talking about intellectualism in America. Scenes continue to show similar topics such as a group of men dressed the same and all reading the newspaper. Also, an aerial view of “look alike” houses is shown while Reasoner talks about a culture where families conduct their same daily routines. Reasoner describes it as a form of communism; 01:47 The scene changes to show Reasoner talk about the real dangers with conformity to American suburban neighborhoods. He talks about the need to avoid communism and compares it to Russian police brutality and a classless society; 02:25 Scene changes to show a man named Mr. Stevenson from Illinois who talks about diversity, freedom, and uniformity, as well as the “internal condition of man” or civil war of man; 04:48 Reasoner asks if man possesses diversity. The scene changes to show urban cities across America that all seem the same. Reasoner states, “like the Russians, we believe in the greatest good for the greatest number” and compares his statement to our mass production, jobs, schools, and factories; 08:29 Reasoner continues to make connections to Russian society and states “we, and the Russians, and any other technological society, believe more in the team than the man.” Scenes related to sports such as football and cheering crowds appear; 09:33 The scene changes to show a man at his factory job. Reasoner talks about jobs becoming less important as machines take over most of the work. Reasoner continues to talk about how this leads to group think in our schools and waning identity of individuals; 14:57 Scene changes to show young women dancing to the song “The Twist” by Chubby Checker. Reasoner mentions a study done by the New York Times stating that Jewish adolescents valued personal popularity and athleticism more than academic achievement. Reasoner continues to say society is becoming more suspicious of individual thinkers; 15:45 Reasoner asks a man about his need to sell his house because a Black family moved into the neighborhood. Reasoner asks the man if he is moving because everyone else in the neighborhood is moving too. Reasoner mentions that the group is not always right; 17:40 Reasoner talks about the struggle of being in the minority regarding individual thought. Reasoner talks about when it is appropriate to conform to rules and standards in specific situations or groups; 21:15 Scene changes to show a group of people discussing rules regarding curfews for children. Reasoner mentions this is a group that can only find strength in mass action and states, “here are nobodies taking refuge and being everybody so that none of them will have to be somebody”; 22:40 Reasoner talks about laws, rules, and the inability for people to know the difference between right and wrong. He questions what has happened with society when it must appoint a committee to determine what is ethical; 23:20 Film ends.
Note Type: 
Segment sequence
Collection of origin: Continuing Education and Extension Center papers
Subject Topic: 
Communism and society
Subject Topic: 
Group identity
Subject Topic: 
Thought and thinking
Subject Topic: 
Subject Name: 
Reasoner, Harry, 1923-1991
Subject Geographic: 
United States
Identifier ARK:
Physical Location: 
University of Colorado Boulder Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections
Shelf Locator: 
COU: 2495
Date Captured: 
Internet Media Type: 
Digital Origin: 
reformatted digital
Access Condition: 
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).
Access Condition URI: