Eclipse Of Venus – 5 (12 Angry Men-2)

Let me now go back to movie. I will try to re-interpret it my way, using my artless-tic freedom. I am not a psychologist, trained or untrained, and hence my interpretations might go exactly opposite to their. I will only try to interpret the way I understood, with my biases and prejudices fully at action here.

Within three minutes from start, which included major credit, the judge had recused the two standby jurors, told the rest, the twelve of them, that they are to give a unanimous verdict in either way, and then asked the court officer to take them to the room and lock them up till they are ready with it. With a look at the defendant, by them and by the audience, they are hoarded in the designated room and locked.

The important aspect for a fair judgement should be the constitution of the jury, it should take representations from various walks of life. Unfortunately, we, the audience have not been provided with the curriculum vitae cards of these twelve. In fact, we weren’t even told the names of most of them. Probably by oversight (!), only two person’s name have been mentioned in the whole episode, Davis (Henry Fonda) and McCardle (Joseph Sweeny) and that too in last few seconds, when they exchange their names while saying good bye outside the court, seconds before the closing credits started.

Is it important? Definitely it is.

Not the names of course, but we should know the back ground. Leave alone such a critical thing as pronouncing capital punishment, now even the sports have become more of mental game than individual skill. The football coach of these days would not only study in minute details the strengths and the style of Messi and Neymar, but down to the rival goalkeeper and make their team strategy accordingly. The other coach too is naturally going to do it, and the final result would be a clash of these strategies, and how much the individual player’s brilliance could avoid being stifled by the opponent coach’s strategy. In fact, these over-strategising sometimes bring unexpected result. May be Messi, Suarez and Neymar all the three had been shackled to impotence, but in that effort, some unknown person is left unmarked, to come over and score the all-important goal. Not only team game, even in individual games, people study the opponents, boxing, tennis, badminton etc. of course need it, but you would see it happening even in routines like gymnastics, as a counter measure to impress the judges.

When we hold board meetings, we know approximately the mental makeup of all our members and that helps us in convincing them to fall in line. But there would be occasions when the prejudices and bias of individuals that were not known by us, would create strange unexpected situations.

This is an extreme case where we simply don’t know anything about them, background, social status, family, upbringing, education… each of them could play vital role in the decision-making process. Not only us, they themselves are unaware, except of one-self of course, that too, if people are aware of their prejudices. We rarely are clearly aware, since they live in subconscious. This hence could be a brilliant study in management, how to turn enemies into friends, even without knowing why they are against us.

I would try to analyze the professions and mentality of the angry persons to my understanding. Some were quite strong in their conviction and some were ambivalent, or I should say unsure. Though even these people considered the defendant guilty initially, but the behavior pattern in the beginning itself indicated that they could switch sides, and in fact they did too, and a few multiple times flip-flopping over the net and switching over courts multiple times. The reason of each could be guessed from their psychological-makeup and/or their profession.

I should start with the head of the table, foreman of the Jury. Since all are without names, I have to go either by their off-screen names, or simply by the numbers, the foreman being #1.

Once the people were locked inside, they loitered around chatting. Not about the case, as far as they were concerned, the case was closed and they knew the verdict. A few of them were first timer, and a few had already had experience of being jury earlier. Some were thoughtful, some fidgety but almost none looked to have much doubt about the verdict, ‘Guilty”.

The strength of this movie are its actors. Whether managed by the director or due to their natural instincts, from the character’s behavior, one could guess a lot about them. Had the acting been even average, this movie would have been a dud. The whole essence of the movie is behavioral study of the protagonists. Each had their agenda, or I should say prejudices, due to which they were pronouncing the ‘Guilty’ sentence. The basis has to come out from their dialogues and behavior. What made the movie even better was that the behavior spoke much more than words.

The foreman called the meeting to order, and asked all to sit down around the table. Instead of haphazardly sitting down, he asked them to sit in the order of their number, starting with #2 on his left and then clockwise all the way round to #12 on his right.

The person, Martin Balsam (real life, in the movie no name) looked authoritative or almost autocratic, disciplinarian and bossy. When in between some clashes and chaos took place, he almost threw his towel off “I don’t want to be the head of this unruly group” and sulked on his chair looking the other way. He has to be a boss somewhere, but the sulking didn’t signify that he would be head of an organisation, at least a successful one. There would be infighting and if he sulked “Do whatever you want, I don’t want to be a part of it”, then definitely the organisation is doomed.

However, if instead of fighting, they discuss, he was ready to listen and accept suggestions from his team. Indecisiveness didn’t sway him and he was not ready to change his opinions on that count. A few “Could have been” didn’t make him change his stand when there were stronger arguments on the contrary.

He is quite systematic and goes by the rule-book “Though we are certain of our verdict”, a pre-assumption by the head of the groupBut we have to sit down and take a roll call (preliminary voting), and if the result is 12-0, we go out and tell the judge, but if there is any dissent (he seemed to be sure there won’t be) we discuss

How do we handle him?

His background officially came out, when he casually mentioned (by then three fourth of the movie was over, and it wasn’t important anymore) that he was assistant coach of a high-school football team. When you are a coach with a football team, of course you have to be authoritative and disciplinarian, and that partially explained his behavior.

Probably he has never encountered this type of unruly team who don’t listen and so he doesn’t know what do. He sulked “I can’t have anything to do with players like you, I resign”. If he is good, he could afford to sulk, the students would then massage his ego and calm him down. The systemically placing the players at the designated positions too was explained.

Handling students, some naturally unruly, he has to be tough as far as discipline and misdemeanors are concerned. In colleges, we see more often of “Being made an example of” students, so that the college discipline is maintained. With so much of the proofs being presented at the disciplinary committee hearing, obviously, he was certain of the guilt.

We must consider the fact, that the teachers think that the boys of a certain age are naturally naughty (and hence guilty), and more so the boys who don’t bother to go to school and rather loiter on the road.

How to make him to switch to our side? It would be difficult. Academicians, even those associated with academics, will have their prejudices. One most prominent could be that, the boys that bunk classes, and in this case the schooling itself, are bad boys. This prejudice can’t be made to work for us, since the boy was all that, and the police register showed he was in fact bad too.

But there is one leeway. He is a sports teacher, and they sometimes have liking for bad boys. In addition, being in sports, especially football, he must be aware that many times, people feign and get penalty awarded in favor, when actually none were called for. If somehow it is proved that the opposite camp was doing an unsporting foul on him, it might work. The boy might be bad, but he doesn’t bite ears. But it won’t be easy.

He was the ninth one to vote not guilty, just before the three highly prejudiced persons.

Davis (Henry Fonda) is the main protagonist, and unfortunately, this character is too complex, or I will say too balanced, for me, and I am unable to make an assumption about him.

  • He is a thinking type and of thoughtful disposition.
  • Specializes in seemingly unconnected but actually related dots.
  • Doesn’t believe in the way the things are presented and looks out on his own to check the veracity (knife episode).
  • He isn’t too easily scared, when the knife was trained on him by the juror who was in fact baying for his blood, he didn’t flinch.
  • I would have thought him to be in his usual role, the cowboy/ marshal but he is too ‘Thinking’ type.
  • He isn’t from the knife user’s club, since he didn’t know the way to use the switch-knife till someone else told him. A Cowboy or a Marshall should be aware of it. Similarly, some other observations came from elsewhere, but he was the one who connected the dots, or created circumstances where the others brought out things from their subconscious.

The situations were not deliberately created. Due to his questioning the presentation, people recalled things they had noticed. In fact the same things several people had, but overlooked them as irrelevant. These things, for example the physical condition of the old man or the dressing-up of the woman etc may not look to be relevant, but they were. 

I can imagine myself in his shoes’ might indicate a litterateur, stage-person or a psychologist, though not mandatory. Unconnected to either, I too sometime try it. The thoughtfulness could indicate the probability of the three in diminishing way (literature most probable).

He is the first, and in fact the only person of the twelve to vote “Not Guilty” on round one of voting. Since his vote is in my favor, I don’t have to convert him. But had I been on the other side, the CEO yes. The reason of his turning down the proposal, even if I am on his opposite camp, I would welcome.

It wasn’t actually a “Not Guilty” but “I am not too sure about it”. More important and welcome for me is “This is a major decision we are making, to put a boy on chair. It won’t be proper if we don’t have a thorough discussion among us first

He is however ready to go with others, and count his vote with the other 11, if the team still find the defendant guilty. That would be despite his being uncertain, of either side of the verdicts. He is an asset to any management team. He has doubts and uncertainties, but even after a thorough discussions,  if he remains the only one with doubts, he won’t stand in the way. But there should be only one or may be two of this type in a team. If everyone is has doubts, the team can’t work.

This team was made up of an ideal combination.

  • Some people were too, I will say vocal to the point of belligerency, for a cause,
  • Some were uncertain (and personally unsure of themselves), and hence found it would be less trouble to go along with the stream.
  • Some had hidden complexes and hence went in a particular way.
  • For some these complexes were festering wounds. When someone scratched them, they rebounded.

Fortunately, in the team, except for the first type, whose mind were closed, most of others were ready to listen to logics and make their decision.

It is comparable to the decision making process in management too. There too individual decisions are formed, and as new situations emerge during discussion, these are changed or modified, and some time people go back to their original call, when they find that was the right one.

As it happens in management decision making, here too there are no proof, which would force the decision change. In management we don’t know what would be the result of our decision. We only weigh the pros and cons and take the call based on our perceived relative risks. 

The whole case hinged on the two star witnesses, the presentation by say technical team and the marketing team of the management. What if they were wrong? In management, we don’t say that they have deliberately lied or fudged data, here too we won’t. But what if they have assumed too much?

These assumptions may be fully or partially wrong. While saying that we should remember that the assumptions that we think wrong, would be based on our assumptions/data/prejudice/bias which too could be erroneous. If we have some relevant information about their probable wrong assumption, or we find that they have not done enough homework to substantiate the assumption, then we could assume the worst case scenario, that the assumptions are wrong and see whether in such a case the proposal still stands on its legs, or these wrong assumptions would make it fall down flat on its face?

Any good case of course doesn’t depend on single merit factor. The structure has many props and weakening or even removal of one might weaken it, but the others would be strong enough to still let is stand as if unaffected. There are many evidences that were brought out by the team (knife, old man, woman across the road, threatening, unable to recall the movie stars…). Weakening of one assumption, say even the eye-witness, may create some doubt, but won’t be conclusive. In the worst case, the jury may hang, but won’t give a call to hang, or acquit.

The team has to take a call on each and every part of the presentation, look at the merits and assumptions and then take a call on the risks on either side. The danger of a wrong decision is still same, one way an innocent (right call) is put to death, and his blood is on their conscience, on the other side, the murderer (potentially sick company) is let loose in the society, and not only the murdered person’s, but also those who would be in future’s blood will be at the same place.

What happened in the end of the movie isn’t important, but the route it took is.

The biggest strength of this system was, as I said, everyone had their baggage in their back, and it was the job of the others to lighten the baggage. Of course, I couldn’t find the baggage on our main protagonist, #8 (Fonda), except if, he too has undergone similar experience with self, or someone else, where the innocent was sentenced, which too could be the reason behind “I can put myself in his place”. But in that case, he should be a bit stronger in defending. Here he is ambivalent, and only want the justice be met.

This is the Juror #12. When the single dissent came from the Juror # 8 (Fonda) during the preliminary voting, the Foreman behaved as expected.

When the teacher explains something and he finds a student isn’t convinced, what does he do ? He asks the student to explain his reasons, why he doesn’t agree.  Our foreman too did it.

The Juror #12 suggested another method, which was accepted by the foreman (that method too sometimes work in education, especially in sports). The suggestion was, “Instead of asking him why he isn’t certain, why not let others explain the reason why they are certain and convince him?

He seemed to be sure of the ‘Guilty’, but not rigid. If convinced otherwise, he could change his stand. Probably he sails with the majority, in fact when in between votes tied at 6-6, he switched over the side. But since he wasn’t too sure of himself, he could be bullied (he was bullied, and brought back to the original fold, when one more came back, to make it 8-4).

Convincing the unconvinced, not having any rigid stand himself, going with the majority, clearly shows his profession, and he confirmed in between that he was in Advertising/ Marketing.

He isn’t very complicated, and won’t be difficult to handle, since he didn’t bring any personal prejudices. His baggage was the professional one, “The Public/ Majority Opinion can’t be wrong”. We could leave him for the time being and pool up the team behind us in one side or other, he could be counted as an additional by whichever side is heavier.

#9 (Mccardle) is the oldest man of the group, probably in his seventies. Of course we don’t know anything about him, but it would be easy to place him in his place. After the first round voting and some convincing,  unconvinced Fonda recused himself, saying that it the vote is 11-0, he would put his ballot with others.  He took a gamble, and succeeded since the vote was 10-1. This time, McCardle (Sweeny, Juror #9) voted against the verdict.

His change of stand wasn’t because he had been convinced by Fonda, but it is due to his baggage, which is easy to understand.

As said earlier, he is in his seventies, and expects his voice to be heard in his family. But obviously his children, who would be probably in their fifties, or grand children, may be in their twenties or thirties, won’t take the advantage of his “Experience”.  The result is the frustration, that we find among people of these age, especially those who had been respected and listened to when they were younger. They want to involve themselves in the family matters, but the family doesn’t want that, and in fact resent it, and that resentment they resent.

Obviously his wish is to have situations, where people would ask for his advice and opinion, or at least give him his due importance and listen to what he is saying, probably as it used to be a few decades back, at home and at works. When they get the chance and talk and have the audience listening, they get highly irritated when interrupted. All the chips fell in place for him. 

Obviously as happens at that age, and fortunately for one who has good eyesight, a bit rarity, they observe people and their behaviour, with nothing else to do, for the sign of trouble and also their idiosyncrasies. One might have heard the grampa and grannies talking of certain what they though funny behaviour of neighbours, in a gossipy way. 

He most likely lives with the family, and isn’t placed in the old age home. That’s my assumption, since, trying to preach the people who don’t want to be, is a family atmosphere. In the “home”, the staff are trained to listen and be sympathetic. Naturally, when you are with your children and grandchildren, and if you have good eyesight, with nothing else to do, you observe them, ready to spot when they are in trouble, which they  won’t tell you by themselves, and advise them, which they won’t take. This habit one would have seen, especially with generation skip between grandfathers/ mothers and their grandchildren, who till they reach a certain age don’t become gruff and rudely dismissive, and sometime confide and even take advice.

This helped #8, since #9 had pointed out certain features of both the witnesses, the old man below and the woman across. These other jurors, including #8 have noticed, but didn’t find important. The old man could put himself in the shoes of the other oldman and explain why he virtually lied in the witness box, unaware that he was. In fact he had self convinced himself that he was speaking the truth. “At that age and situation, they dream to have at least one chance in their life, when people would listen to them and give the prime importance to what they are saying” Most probably it was his inner voice too.

He is a naturally talkative and should not be interrupted. He should be listened to, and among the long speeches, something of value is very likely to come out. He might by himself not form a opinion, but due to his experience would give observations and inputs, which would help others in analysing the situation, and based on that analysis, along with other members he too would take a stand. But he, at least he thinks, has the  voice the opinion which should be heard. Probably his stand would be independent, which could match with others but need not. 

Listen to him attentively, at least pretend to, and he would be satisfied. Then gently he could be manipulated into your way. But be careful of going against his ‘Age Ego’ and in addition there could be really important points in what he is saying.

This is #2 the person on right of the foreman, and was hence the first one whose job was to try to convince #8 in first round.  The person despite not being Mr (Donald) Meek, was still meek, in personality.  He wasn’t going to pick up a fight or be argumentative, but it also became soon obvious, that he can’t be trampled upon or bulldozed.

He keeps notes of important points in chits (which he brought out during his presentation). A habit of clerk/ stenographer/ lower level- section officers? At least in my area, I would imagine he is. Does he work in a bank? May be (again not important), “I picked up a quarrel with a person I  work with, in a bank“, based on the position and number of comma (,)s, could mean that he works in a bank, or the quarrel was in a bank. Either way, it further strengthen the stand of his being a lower-mid level employee probably clerical. Officers, even in arguments, can’t say “I am going to kill you” which, though he looks meek and almost subservient, accepted to have said to that colleague of him.  

This is the first time he had been on the bench and he was “Convinced from the very first, and didn’t have any reason to change the opinion

This is a common phenomenon, where people enter the room with preformed bias, which has to be removed. He came with the opinion of “Guilty” and unless there was sufficient reason he was not going to stick to it. But he was ready to listen and keep notes, and could be made to change his stand, if the notes on one pocket outweighed other. Several times, when his prejudices are addressed, he might (and did) bring out points in support of his new team. They don’t deliberately suppress facts or figures, but the coloured sunglass has to be at least once removed from their eyes, so that they can see both sides of the spectrum. Till it is done, for them the universe is in a single colour, various shades. After this they can see both the view-points. 

In a bank how, say the loan disbursement officers work? They assume, at least are supposed to, that there is going to be default, and he keeps notes in the margin condemning the loan seeker. Looking for more and more proof, asking for it, so that he is satisfied that he was wrong.

He doesn’t mind being proven wrong, but isn’t going to make an attempt at it. Once he is sure, only then he starts looking at the merits of the proposal, and advocates to his bosses why the loan should be given. Again. these people are working to their conscience, which has said the loan-seeker is a cheat or a gold-mine, and couldn’t be bulldozed once they have assured themselves of the fact, but still they can be convinced sans use of force, with new chits/ entries in the margin. 

ind Like all the other cases, this mindset too isn’t unique for a given walk of life and could be seen at many places. The Marketing man’s mindset didn’t mean that he had to be in marketing or the foreman a football coach. In this case, it helped me in analysing the behaviour patterns, but each of these types are common, as would be the ones coming afterwards. I can see examples of similar personalities, in people I know, from other wakes of life. The old man, #9, is very common on elderly persons, but could be there in capable but meek persons of younger age. The people who know, want to contribute, but are asked to shut-up the moment they open their mouth, since the others don’t value them. I am sure we would find many of such around us, and learn to let them have their say too.

 Obviously I have to continue, I could only cover 5…