Six part documentary series Why We Hate will screen on Discovery from October.
The series from Alex Gibney and Steven Spielberg dives deep into the evolutionary basis of hatred and unpacks the anthropology behind it.
Gibney and Spielberg said in a joint statement, “Getting to the root of the human condition is something not only fascinating, but necessary in understanding who we are. This is not a series that just documents something that’s happening; it’s an inquiry – an attempt to understand why we hate, through the science, and through an understanding of our common humanity. Hate is in our DNA. If we understand why we act the way we do, we can change the way we act. That is what we are uniquely capable of as human beings.”
Throughout history, hate and conflict have been part of the human experience. From horrific extremes such as the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide, when hate has fuelled mass destruction, to everyday incidents like playground bullying or malicious trolling on social media, hate shapes our lives in myriad ways. And while all humans have the capacity to hate, few understand what sparks it and transforms it into a destructive force.
Executive produced by filmmaking heavyweights Alex Gibney and Steven Spielberg and directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard (Emmy® winners for “When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts”), Why We Hate explores one of humanity’s most primal and destructive emotions – hate. At the heart of this timely series is the notion that if people begin to understand their own minds, they can find ways to work against hate and keep it from spreading. The six-part series launches in Australia Sunday 20 October at 8:30pm on Discovery Channel.
Drawing on cutting-edge journalism, deep historical investigations and ground-breaking research in psychology, biology, and neuroscience, Why We Hate traces the evolutionary basis of hatred and its powerful impact on individuals and societies throughout human history. The science behind the behaviour is a powerful tool to help us understand what drives conflict, enabling people to have real, tough conversations about these issues and behaviours.
Helping to unpack these complex issues in each episode are experts including cognitive scientist Laurie Santos, evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare, journalist and author Jelani Cobb, extremism expert Sasha Havlicek, international criminal lawyer Patricia Viseur Sellers, and neuroscientist Emile Bruneau.
Why We Hate works to contextualise the many instances of hate in everyday life: the violent rivalries that erupt at sports matches, the hateful rhetoric that runs rampant on social media, and the heated disagreements that flare up over political partisanship, race, religion, and social beliefs. The series follows brave individuals seeking to quell violent conflict and correct misperceptions, hears from former terrorists and architects of genocide, and allows viewers to consider lessons from some of the most brutal and enduring examples of hate throughout the world.
Among ideas explored include how group-based thinking shapes people’s perceptions and their behaviours. The area that illustrates this the most is sports, where deep loyalties are based on a few different factors such as regional identity. A deep love for one team often leads to a hatred for its rival, which can spill into detesting opposing fans. As Santos explains, “…soccer fans tend to be the most tribal…not just about the soccer players that they care about, but also about the other fans. And that’s interesting because it suggests that it’s not just about the competition.” Santos goes on to draw parallels to today’s political environment: “Political partisanship is getting more and more tribal every day. The distance between the us and them in [the United States] is getting bigger, and it’s developing more of the uglier sides of tribalism.”
Why We Hate also highlights the personal stories of those who have lived a life of hatred, including a lifelong member of a hate group whose childhood memories “are of standing on a picket line telling people they were going to hell.” The series encounters people whose beliefs led them to commit acts of hate so severe they ended up in jail, but who managed, finally, to disengage from those ideologies.
Along the way, Why We Hate reveals contemporary links to ancient and evolutionary behaviours and uses science as a basis for unlocking the truth about hatred and human nature.
Why We Hate will be supported by Discovery Education, the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms. The more than 5 million educators and 51 million students worldwide using the recently launched Discovery Education Experience and other award-winning digital services will shortly receive access to a variety of exclusive Why We Hate videos, classroom activities, lesson plans, a take-home parent viewing guide, and more. Through these thought-provoking resources, teachers, students, and their families will be empowered to explore the human condition for hatred and change the narrative.
Why We Hate is an Amblin Television and Jigsaw Productions in association with Escape Artists for Discovery Channel. Directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard. The series is executive produced by Alex Gibney, Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Stacey Offman, Richard Perello, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, David McKillop, Jon Bardin, Yael Melamede, and Erica Sashin. For Escape Artists: executive producer, Steve Tisch; For Discovery Channel: executive producers, Nancy Daniels and Howard Swartz.
Sunday 20 October at 8:30pm on Discovery Channel.