ABC has a show called “What would you do?” that can be rather fun to watch, in which some sort of uncomfortable scenario is faked in a public place, and the reactions of the people exposed to it is filmed. At the end, the host of the show and the hidden camera crew comes out of nowhere and does a post-game analysis. Unlike Candid Camera, in which the scenario is typically some sort of silly trickery, this show often deals with social issues.
The show is normally done in the New York area. When I’ve watched it, I’ve thought “Yeah, you’d have to do this in NY, because it would not work in Minnesota.” … In Minnesota, no one would overtly respond to the scenario but every one would get passive-aggressively mad. If gay people were denigrated in a restaurant, for example, Minnesotans would mutter something under their breath but really just audible while on their way out after paying their bill. That’s what counts for “Minnesota Nice.”
Recently, ABC decided to take the show on the road to see how things would go in different communities around the US. Lousy Canuck has written up one of the interesting events, in which gay families in a Texas diner were told that they were evil by the waitress. Interestingly, when this was done in the New York setting, most people ignored the anti-gay server, while in Texas many of the customers reacted and defended the gay families.
I quickly add that the scenarios were not identical in the two runs of this social experiment, so the comparison may not be valid. Nonetheless, Texas seems to have a more tolerant population than New York, based on this limited sample. This is interesting because Texas is one of the US states where it is legal to refuse service to a person in a restaurant because they are gay.
Anyway, see LC’s writeup for more, and for the video: Unscripted public responses to gay-bashing in Texas