this was an ’80s twilight zone episode based on a richard matheson short story
tune in tomorrow for more topical references
Also a Richard Kelly movie that I feel like I enjoyed more than it probably deserved: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362478/?ref_=nm_knf_…
Reminds me of this PFSC http://i.imgur.com/6i8zJzj.png
Carbon credits? Hell, give it to a Malthusianist and it's win-win!
Brought to you by Hypothetical Moral Quandaries, Inc. Ask about our two-for-one offer on Sophie's Choice!
"So, exactly how many mosquito nets and malaria treatments will I be able to afford with this button?"
edit: ah, I see the down votes I got from arguing with some insane gamers five years ago will follow me around basically forever. Thanks, internet!
Maybe if everyone teams up we can upvote this one enough to counter it? Or you could switch to Guest like I do and become LITERALLY UNTRACEABLE. Catch me now, NSA.
thanks for spearheading this! i was going to say, let's upvote this guy to oblivion
I was here when he had a low single digit score, and I thought "You know, this guy right here deserves an upvote". It's fun to see everyone else think the same thing.
WH-WHO SAID THAT
On the one hand, holy crap this was bizarre and delightful to wake up to.
On the other, I was pretty sure my user score was -56p when I posted this, and now it's -60p, so something fascinating's going on over at IntenseDebate headquarters.
Edit: okay, this comment is at -60p too, but Tumblt downstairs there gave me something to riff off and that comment is at 132p. So unless they're big big fans of Charlie Brooker, something fascinating is definitely going on over at IntenseDebate HQ.
To me it says you're on 131p, so maybe something's not refreshing properly at your end? Anyway congrats! You're popular again!
Perhaps you'd consider a…proposition, downtrodden friend. A simple button, which if pressed will offer untold upvote riches beyond imagining, for a point score an entire army of trolls could nary scratch.
However! The price is an IP perma-ban for an anonymous fellow Chainsawsuit commenter! Probably a devoted, earnest fan who upvotes selflessly and only posts to give kudos to others! Or…maybe it's me. I mean actually the odds aren't great, probably not statistically random even.
It's me I bet, dammit. Well you can have my votes then I guess, may they serve you well.
So, you have that unsightly score next to your name because you got into a verbal scuffle with some gamers, and they left a literal scar on your name? That's… Write your story, go on TV.
soon to be adapted into an episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror
For some reason, I thought it was implied that it kills the last person who pushed the button, but I watched the end again and I'm not sure now.
That is exactly what happens, in the TV episode. In the short story, the woman's husband is killed. Either way you get fucked over.
Oooh! that means she really DIDN'T know her husband – gotta go read!
OMG – that's what HE wrote. I've seen Matheson's name on so many Twilight Zones, I don't know why I've never actually read any of his stories.
Thats the point of the story, the man gives the box to another stranger,someone YOU dont know. The box doesnt actually kill at random, it kills the last person who used it because MORALITY
Or cruel irony.
Then clearly, the solution is to know everybody. Better get to friending on MySpace and Facebook. Tila Tequila would be rich and practically invulnerable.
I don't think they ever detail the box's stranger-picking algorithm, it's us nerds that assume a fully normal random sorting
it feels like an example of monkey's-paw "way too obtuse on purpose" irony logic. "someone you don't know" != "only the previous/next person to use the box and no one else." of course if he said "the next person to use the button. so they have a high probability of killing you" then you wouldn't do it.
at least the original story had the wordplay of "someone you don't know," but even that was too close!! goddammit let these desperate people get paid
But that's "wordplay" is the whole point of it, and not really wordplay.
If you're okay with the death of some stranger for your benefit, then you're supposed to consider how you're just "some stranger" to somebody else.
It's a convoluted setup, but it doesn't really rely on trickery or a dishonest premise.
Statistically it's very likely more than one person might die somewhere during the button push, so any guilt or moral quandary on my part would require a detailed presentation with convincing evidence and probably a diorama. Otherwise I've probably indirectly killed more people than that through fractal butterfly effects, or just buying marked up stuff made in brutal Orwellian sweatshops like everyone else. With money I could buy a Shanghai electronics plant, and afford to take a profit hit preventing employee suicide. Probably get some techs to backwards engineer that box and remove the murder components.
The button/box thing is big in game theory, though this is kind of the Milton Bradley version with taking turns (and the back of the box had juice spilled on it so you don't know the key rules. The #1 worst 'twist' trope).
But when two or more have to start thinking about whether the other will push the button and risk killing you both, then it gets interesting. There's the classic Prisoner's Dilemma that was played out in The Dark Knight, but there are also lots of real life game studies that involve buttons, money and threats of death or violence. And the infamous Milgram experiment showed people will press the electrocution button for free, as long as an authority figure says they should.
Honestly pressing or not pressing the button should rely EXACTLY on what happens if you don't press the button.
If I don't press the button, who does the next button pusher kill? Is it me or is it the previous person to have pushed the button? Or does it do a random murder, elsewhere?
If the person on the chopping block next is me anyways, I might as well press the button because I'm at the mercy of the next guy's morality either way. If he chooses to press at least I get to live a wealthy life for my short remaining time. When I die I will at least kinda deserve it for killing that last guy. If he chooses not to press I'm off scot-free. Sorry previous guy if you didn't push the button but that's what you get for being a wuss.
If the person on the chopping block is random when the previous owner did not push, then I would consider this:
If the previous owner pushed the button I'm killing someone who understood the risks or was too foolish to care. I'm okay with that. If the next owner presses the button then I'm sparing the random guy who would have died when he pressed it by knowingly accepting my fate. If the next owner doesn't press I get to live and be rich.
If the previous owner didn't push then I just smoked some random for a ton of money which I'll only feel bad about if the next owner doesn't press it.
If the previous button pusher is on the block then I'm guaranteed to die if I push it, so I would hold on to the box for a long time, rack up a ton of debt, make my peace with my loved ones, then press the button and go to town knowing the button is guaranteed to kill me eventually, in a race with the next push. Or I'd just skip out of the whole issue.
If it always kills a complete and total random then I'd push it for the reasons in the comic
So what if you were to push the button twice in a row? It couldn't kill you because you're not someone you've never met. Would it resurrect the previous button-pusher in order to kill them again?
Haha! Just noticed, You've even got Serling's omnipresent cigarette!
Hell, that could almost be a tag line for the show – Twilight Zone: No One Learned Anything, usually because they're dead, or mule-headed 50's people.
The Teachable Moment Zone
Weirdly, Badass Digest posted an article about the movie just last week, so it's been on my mind a bit lately and it was a little spooky to see it pop up here as well.
That link also contains video of the moment where Cameron Diaz completely spoils the twist near the end at Comic Con. I'm usually not much for schadenfreude, but it's sort mesmerizing to see what is generally such a polished, controlled event go so completely off the rails. Also interesting (and noted in that article) that all three versions of this story have completely different twists.
That's an unstable equilibrium, though-though it's best for society if at Some Point a person stops pushing the button, nobody will want to make that choice.
But at some point, the pool of people will becomes so small – that everyone will know each other. I guess the button would stop working.
Plot twist: mysterious man is actually offering the same choice to every person on earth simultaneously
Won't the button-carrier just… run out of money at some point?
If he just generates the money out of thin air, then inflation is quickly going to make his deal less appealing.
Once again economics triumphs over ethics.
So is it killing some random human? Or the last person that pressed the button?
If pushing the button kills the LAST person that pushed it (isn't that the premise?) then it seems to present a different quandary for me. I just can't decide WHY it feels different.
I guess I would reason that tens of thousands of random people die every day anyway (150,000 or so). Of those, 100,000 or so die of old age. The other 50,000 are accident, illness, etc. So does it really matter if it is 50,001 today because I pressed a button? Who's to say that person might not have died today anyway? Or get hit by a bus tomorrow even if I didn't push the button?
But if it kills the last person that pushed the button, then we are talking about killing a SPECIFIC person I don't know. Now it feels like murder? Wait…is the last person that pushed the button really old, or suffering from a terminal illness?
Chainsawsuit: making you question your ethics since 2008. Conclusion? I am a terrible human being.
On further reflection, replacing 'human' with 'kitten' now makes it not ok to push the button either way. I'm a worse person than I thought.
When it's killing a random person, they're dehumanized. It's easy to argue against the abstract. You can simply assume it's one of many people you think deserve to die (terrorists, criminals, people who don't use turn signals), rather than do a specific calculation about it. I suppose if you wanted to really weigh it out, you'd have to decide whether you believe the majority of people are good or evil, or more specifically whether the majority of people deserve to die randomly, but that's large enough we don't feel an emotional impact.
When it's a specific button presser, you can imagine them concretely. Maybe it's someone exactly like you, because after all you are in their exact position now. It's very easy to feel empathy for them, rather than random human 3,243,564,901. If you believe you have an altruistic reason for killing them, then don't you in turn deserve to be killed altruistically by the next person in line? I actually really like this version of the dilemma much better, because it causes us to examine our failures of empathy directly.
But man, if it was Chad who pressed the button last, I'd have no hesitation. Fuck Chad.
When it's a specific button presser, the risk you take in pushing the button increases significantly, making the choice much less attractive.
I thought about that too. But even in the circumstance that I do not know the previous button-pusher, it still feels 'worse' than the random person option to me. Although if I don't know them at all, it might as well be a random person, right?
I think you are onto something, though….just the fact that the act is now tied to a specific individual (the button pusher) rather than being a possible pick from a random mass pool makes it more of a 'person' to my chimp-brain, I think.
This, however, doesn't explain why my brain says 'no' to a kitten in either scenario. But I suspect this is because kittens aren't typically a-holes.
I dunno, I reason that the last person to push a button to kill someone kind of had it coming.
I think the concept of it killing the last person who pushed the button has less to do with knowing who it will kill, and more to do with not knowing that it works that way and that you are unknowingly signing your own death sentance when the next person pushes the button in an hour or however long it is.
That also means no one would have time to spend the money, without realizing it. So you think you are making a questionable moral decision in exchange for money, when really you are being punished with death for doing so.
Context matters, even when it shouldn't.
If the button-box looked like a detonator, or if the box was big enough to hold a person and the "button" was more of a syringe plunger, would that change your decision?
what if it was "here's your random person, tied to a chair. A million bucks to strangle them while I watch"?
It's not actually a different decision, but the context matters because we can tell ourselves "this box isn't the immediate cause of death. This box communicates with something else, which begins some other process, which ends with a death. I can shift a lot of the blame off on that process."
Yeah….changing the scenario to direct action (strangling or the plunger box) suddenly makes it not matter to me if the person dying is the previous button pusher or a random person. My brain now says it is murder either way. Again, it changes it to be about an individual. This makes me curious what is going on here psychologically.
Are we hard wired to place more value on an individual alone than on random members of a large crowd, even though in reality those people are also individuals? There has to be some research out there on this type of thing.
Seems like a reverse type of mob mentality or something.
The other option was to press the button a bunch of times until you are super rich and no one but your friends and family are left alive. That or use your riches to make a world wide announcement introducing yourself to everyone on earth. That way you wouldn't be a stranger to anyone.
I'm not exactly a god-fearing man. But that offer just leaves my mind to wander, and it always arrives at the same place; if I'm to be judged at the end of my existence, I don't want my evaluation card to read "Sent a soul to die for cash". I would, however, take that creepy bastard's hat. That's a sweet hat.
Best damn webcomic since Angry Asian Chix.
I saved this one to post ironically on 4chan.
Is the joke that you're some sort of webcomic hipster?
Actual Twilight Zone ending:
The man appears with a few dozen other individuals on a mountain of money, surrounded by billions of corpses each holding one of the magic boxes.
Sounds like the ending of Guillermo del Toro's guest episode of the impressively budgeted 2015 reboot, "Zōn". Theme music by Bear McCreary and Brandon Small. But then it's on SyFy, so…
The dude with the button specifically says that the next person to be given the button will be someone you don't know. It seems obvious to me that the person who dies is the last person who pushed the button. Serial killers, man.
Right, ok, so I had a version of this in a book of short stories when I was a kid that was a game show and the protagonist was pushed and pushed to press the button (at one point by being DROWNED IN SPIDERS jeez that stuck with me) and then he caved and pressed it and watched the person die on a little screen – a random man in a white suit, waiting for his flight.
Fade to black, next thing you know, he's got all the money and is going on holiday with his family. Somewhere warm, so he's wearing a white linen suit. And he's waiting for his flight when he realises he knows this airport… OMG IT WAS TOTES HIM, HE KILLED HIMSELF then he has a heart attack and dies. Actually, the person who "died" on the screen was an actor and it was somehow some kind of lethal Candid Camera thing. I forget why. I assume "Dystopian future lolz", because apparently they're a big thing when we're all scrapping around for resources on a broken Earth.
If the option that "nobody pushes the button" is never considered, it will be because of COMICS LIKE THIS.
Ignorantin (is that the opposite of learnin?) on a wish
Give it a watch. They went in a interesting direction.
If the button truly kills the last person who pushed it before you, then clearly the winning strategy is to push the button and then immediately destroy it so it can't be used again.
-the button-box can be destroyed
-the button-box is unique
-the button-box contains within itself the mechanism by which a person is killed and you get paid
So unless creepyface mcbox up there is willing to honestly answer a whole slew of questions about the exact method by which the death-for-dollars transaction occurs, you're not really eliminating the risk.
No chapter of Broodhollow has made me feel as strongly as the pity I felt for the nonplussed Rod Serling in the last panel. You hit me right in the emotions, Straub.