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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Indie Film “Compliance” stirring controversy

Nickie Phillips

Crime and pop culture converge again in the new indie film “Compliance,” inspired by the true crime events of a young woman working at a fast food restaurant who was sexually assaulted when her boss strip-searched her based on the demands of a man on the phone impersonating a police officer.

The story, though inspired by true events, may at first seem to strain credibility. However, this Courier-Journal article points out the obvious link between compliance of the workers and the Stanley Milgram obedience studies of the 1960s.

Ultimately, the victim was awarded millions in a lawsuit settlement. David Stewart was arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer, soliciting sodomy, and soliciting sexual abuse. He was later acquitted.

The film is sparking some controversy and, according to this Village Voice article, prompted one movie-goer to cry out “Rape is not entertainment!”

Time ran the headline "Sundance Torture Porn" in their review of the film, comparing the director Craig Zobel to Michael Haneke, a director most known for getting under the skin of the viewers with films such as Funny Games and Cache.

While it may seem an odd topic for a feature-length film, it's probably no more bizarre than the “pizza bomber” feature film, also inspired by true crime events, released last year.

Read interview with "Compliance" director, "On uncomfortable Art and the Cops' Approval," here.

The film "Compliance" is now showing in limited release.