[Ads-l] Origin and evolution of "crisis actor"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 20 07:48:37 EDT 2017

Fascinating, Bonnie.


On Sat, Jun 17, 2017 at 3:57 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake <
b.taylorblake at gmail.com> wrote:

> In a thread from early 2013 on uses of "staged," Jonathan Lighter picked up
> on the use of "crisis actor."
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2013-January/124705.html
> That's an interesting one, I think. Am I missing a good review of how
> "crisis actor" came to be?
> Municipalities, county governments, and the like have long looked for and
> used volunteers from the community to portray victims in mock disasters
> (e.g., as victims in an airplane crash) to test response times and skills
> of first-responders (paramedics, police, firefighters, etc.).  While the
> concept of a volunteer, non-professional "actor" in these drills has long
> existed, I can't find that there ever was or has been an accepted name for
> this kind of drill participant.
> "Crisis actor" would be a nice shorthand for such a volunteer, but at
> present the term seems entirely negative and nefarious.
> Current usage seems to be applied to persons involved in a tragedy who are,
> as the conspiracy-theorists would tell us, only actors and not true victims
> of said tragedies (not actual gunshot victims, not grieving parents, not
> horrified witnesses, etc.); further, these actors are not participating in
> a true tragedy, but instead are players in a conspiracy, usually organized
> by the government, to fake a tragedy, the ultimate goal of which is, for
> example, only known to the organizer (for example, to remove or limit the
> citizenry's access to firearms).  See also Wikipedia's description,
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_actor.
> The term seemed to blossom after the Sandy Hook Massacre, which took place
> on 14 December 2012.
> The earliest usage of "crisis actor" I've found in the mainstream press
> comes from an article in the 25 December 2012 issue of The Washington [DC]
> Examiner
> ---------------------------
> With thousands or even millions of people questioning the inconsistencies
> of the event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it appears
> that nobody is looking at possible motives for the murder of Nancy Lanza.
> [...]
> Here is a partial list of interesting questions being raised all over the
> internet:
> [...]
> [bullet point] Was the school part of the shooting spree an emergency
> response exercise using paid crisis actors funded by a grant from our
> federal government?
> [From "The Only Plausible Motive: the Murder of Nancy Lanza," accessed via
> Newsbank's America's News database.]
> ---------------------------
> In January, 2013, the term really took off, in part because it was
> popularized by James Tracy, then a professor at Florida Atlantic
> University, who had apparently been using it for some time; presumably it
> had also been in use on internet discussion boards and similar.
> ---------------------------
> Moreover, James Tracy asserts in radio interviews and on his [
> memoryholeblog.com] that trained "crisis actors" may have been employed by
> the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of
> the event's true purpose: gun control.
> [From Mike Clary, "Prof. doubts Sandy Hook massacre," The South Florida Sun
> Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), 8 January 2013, p. A1.]
> ---------------------------
> As far as I can tell, the term "crisis actor" derives from an effort
> reported at, well, crisisactors.org (see
> https://web.archive.org/web/20121223001335/http://crisisactors.org/; this
> page was captured on 23 December 2012), a site registered on 17 August 2012
> and last updated on 16 September 2016. (I also found this press release via
> Newsbank's America's News database; it's presented in full far below.)
>  @crisisactors first tweeted on 19 August 2012.
> Notably, the press release mentions that "Crisis Actors is a project of the
> Colorado Safety Task Force established by Colorado State Senator Steve
> King," which perhaps was organized in response to the 20 July 2012 shooting
> massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
> I suspect, then, that "crisis actors" was coined during the development of
> this project, later acquiring its more sinister meaning a few months later,
> post-Sandy Hook. This link to an effort of the State of Colorado perhaps
> explains a suspicion that the "crisis actor" is involved on behalf of the
> government or even "funded by a grant from our federal government."
> I'd be happy to hear from anyone else who has looked into the origin and
> evolution of this term.  Anything before the Aurora shooting in July,
> 2012?  I should note the older usage of "crisis actor" within the
> international-affairs/political-science communities to describe
> participants (e.g., superpowers or countries) in international crises
> (e.g., an escalation to war), but I find no evidence that this particular
> usage led to today's more common and disturbing meaning.
> -- Bonnie
> Active Shooter Crisis Actors Target Mall Shootings via Visionbox
> Market Wire (USA) - October 31, 2012
> A new group of actors is now available nationwide for active shooter drills
> and mall shooting full-scale exercises, announced Visionbox, Denver's
> leading professional actors studio.
> Visionbox Crisis Actors are trained in criminal and victim behavior, and
> bring intense realism to simulated mass casualty incidents in public
> places.
> The actors' stage acting experience, ranging from Shakespeare to
> contemporary American theater, enables them to "stay in character"
> throughout an exercise, and improvise scenes of extreme stress while
> strictly following official exercise scenarios.
> The actors regularly rehearse scenarios involving the Incident Command
> System and crisis communications, and appear in interactive training films
> produced in both 2D and stereoscopic 3D.
> Producers Jennifer McCray-Rincon and John Simmons formed the group to
> demonstrate emerging security technologies, help first responders visualize
> life-saving procedures, and assist trainers in delivering superior hands-on
> crisis response training.
> For example, with a large shopping center, the producers review all
> security camera views and design dramatic scenes specifically for existing
> camera angles, robotic camera sweeps, and manually-controlled camera moves.
> The producers then work with the trainers to create a "prompt book" for the
> actors so that key scenario developments can be triggered throughout the
> mall shooting simulation, and caught on tape.
> The actors can play the part of the shooters, mall employees, shoppers in
> the mall, shoppers who continue to arrive at the mall, media reporters and
> others rushing to the mall, and persons in motor vehicles around the mall.
> Visionbox Crisis Actors can also play the role of citizens calling 911 or
> mall management, or posting comments on social media websites.
> During the exercise, the producers use two-way radio to co-direct the
> Crisis Actors team from the mall dispatch center and at actors' locations.
> Within this framework, the exercise can test the mall's monitoring and
> communications systems, the mall's safety plan including lockdown and
> evacuation procedures, the ability of first responders and the mall to
> coordinate an effective response, and their joint ability to respond to the
> media and information posted on the Internet.
> Security camera footage is edited for after-action reports and future
> training.
> For more information visit www.Visionbox.org and www.CrisisActors.org.
> Visionbox is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center.
> Crisis Actors is a project of the Colorado Safety Task Force established by
> Colorado State Senator Steve King.
> Contact:
> Nathan Bock
> Amanda Brown
> (720) 810-1641
> Email Contact
> SOURCE: Visionbox
> http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/emailprcntct?id=92D2E5BC3DC45ED5
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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